Museums in British Columbia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Continuing to Engage the Public Online




Gribbon, Eva

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The COVID-19 pandemic forced British Columbia museums to close to the public for a period of time in 2020. As traditional museum engagement takes place in person at museums, many B.C. museums transferred some engagement to be delivered virtually. This research paper explores past literature that has statistically analyzed museums’ use of Instagram as an engagement tool and discusses four surveys of museums’ experiences during the pandemic. Three case studies of B.C. museum professionals’ experience doing online engagement during the pandemic were conducted and found that a key success to online engagement is trying and learning as you go. The quantitative analysis determined that B.C. museums increased the number of Instagram posts published during the pandemic; however, medium/large museums increased their Instagram activity when compared to small museums. Further, in the quantitative analysis types of Instagram posts were analyzed to determine that Call to Action posts gain more engagement than Promotional posts. Call to Action posts were further analyzed through speech act theory to find that these posts require a deeper level of consideration and targeting to have an effective perlocutionary response from the audience. This research concludes that online engagement is important for museums to continue to connect with their audiences and that consideration of the type of Instagram posts published is needed to ensure they foster meaningful engagement.



Museums, Pandemic, Instagram, Engagement, COVID-19, Social Media