Just like museum curators, we (teens) carefully organize our own social media feeds to present a certain image. I recently sat down with Social Media Manager Kimberly Drew to discuss how she curates The Met's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Ambar: What attracted you to working at The Met?
Kimberly: I decided to apply for the job because I felt like it was a good move for me, career-wise. I was thinking about what it would mean to work full-time as a social media manager, as opposed to working as a communications assistant—the primary difference being that communications assistants handle press, handle social, handle website, can handle any number of tasks. I took this job because I really wanted to be able to focus on social media.
Ambar: What's your typical work day like?
Kimberly: My typical work day is working on our content for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I spend a lot of time working on reports for how we perform on those platforms, specifically in exhibition and campaign reporting. A third of the day is spent meeting with people inside of the Museum: meeting with curatorial departments, being in marketing meetings, meeting with teens visiting in the summer for the teen internship program, or meeting with people outside of the Museum. Sometimes I'll go and have lunch at Facebook, which is pretty fun.
Ambar: How do you choose the artwork featured on The Met's Instagram?
Kimberly: Usually, it's by picking images that are really beautiful. We always try to communicate the beauty of The Met and the beauty of The Met collection. If it's an image of The Temple of Dendur or an image from The Artist Project, we want to think about images that will communicate to people, present spaces in the Museum that people can occupy, and present images of artwork that people may find interesting.
Of the many architects who have worked on The Met, Richard Morris Hunt was among the most prominent. Hunt was the first American architect to study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His legacy at The Met can be seen in the Museum's stately facade, the Grand Staircase leading up to the second floor, and the vast, ceremonial space of the Great Hall. #TheMet #emptymet #RichardMorrisHunt
Ambar: How do you use social media?
Kimberly: I see social media as an opportunity to advocate for the things that I'm interested in. When I first started my blog [Black Contemporary Art] back in 2011, I wanted to create it as a space for educating myself about the artists that I was interested in, and since then, I've been able to build a larger following. But now, I want to be able to leverage my platform for sharing the other things that I've learned.
Ambar: What are some past projects that you've worked on? Do you have any favorites?
Kimberly: This summer, I worked with the Aperture Foundation on their Vision & Justice issue as a social media consultant. I worked directly with Sarah Lewis, who guest-edited the Vision & Justice issue. That's the first issue that Aperture has ever done that relates specifically to black photographers. That was really fun because I got an opportunity to reach out to influencers and share with them, and be able to point to content that specifically related to people that I admired. I also like doing like my own mini-campaigns. Every February, I usually spend a day focusing on a specific individual that I think is an important moment in black history that people should know about.
“Every human being has the potential of great insight.” —Josiah McElheny on Horace Pippin. Click on the link in our profile to hear the artist discuss the uniquely American narratives present in the work of Horace Pippin. Horace Pippin (American, 1888–1946). Self-Portrait II, 1944. #TheMet #MetArtistProject #JosiahMcElheny #HoracePippin
Ambar: Who are your favorite artists?
Kimberly: I love Alma Thomas, who is a painter that has an exhibition up in the Studio Museum right now. She was both an artist and an educator. She did a lot of work in the school systems in Washington, D.C. I'm always interested in artists who do multiple things as part of their practice. I feel like she's a great example of someone like that, who is both generous in her practice as a painter and highly skilled researcher, but also really interested in connecting with people.
Ambar: What activities did you take part in as a teen?
Kimberly: I got my first internship at a museum when I was a teen. I was interested in art, and it was before I really learned that working in museums is a thing for me. My teen years were spent being more of an observer of the arts, and I was able to build a good foundation of curiosity before acting on it. My teen years were kind of like my research and design phase.
Ambar: What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Kimberly: I would definitely tell my teenage self to trust myself more. I was really insecure and really quiet. If I could talk to my teen self, I would definitely tell her to . . . trust her interests and not think so much about trying to change myself to fit into whatever idea of normal I have. Now I realize that there's so much more room for a true self if you're really just looking introspectively as opposed to trying to respond to the world around you. I think with teens now, because you're engaging with so many other people online, it's really important to remember that there's value in yourself and there's value in your ideas.
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Editor's Note: This interview has been edited and condensed from the original.