Instagram is vital to art and museum culture, say gallery founders

<span>Moco's owner Kim Logchies-Prins, centre, with the Serbian artist Marina Abramović at its art space in Barcelona in April 2023. </span><span>Photograph: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA</span>
Moco's owner Kim Logchies-Prins, centre, with the Serbian artist Marina Abramović at its art space in Barcelona in April 2023. Photograph: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA

Instagram is now vital to art gallery and museum culture and can be used to bring in younger audiences, according to the founders of a Dutch contemporary art space that is coming to London this summer.

Kim Logchies-Prins and her husband, Lionel, co-founded the Moco museum of modern, contemporary and street art in Amsterdam and are opening a 25,000 sq ft space in London.

Moco is best known for its pop art and street art collection, with the likes of Banksy, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat adorning its walls in Amsterdam. Those “energetic” and “vibrant” artists have proven popular with social media posters, although some in the art world have questioned whether Instagram is killing museum culture.

“Instagram is happening all over other museums,” said Lionel Logchies-Prins. “It’s the new era we’re in. People post on Instagram in every museum and it’s good for us because it brings more people in.”

The gallery, which has another outpost in Barcelona, is targeting 18- to 35-year-olds and is aiming to bring 600,000 visitors in the first year, increasing to 1 million a year by 2026. There will be an entrance fee, a cafe and a membership model.

Moco will join the crowded art world of central London where private galleries such as David Zwirner and Marlborough are dotted throughout Mayfair and sit adjacent to Moo’s new location in Marble Arch.

“It is a gamble but I do think people are willing to pay for a unique experience,” said Kim Logchies-Prins, adding that their gallery was a “gateway” for younger art fans.

She said many of the younger visitors to their museums may be cinema fans or fashion devotees but for many the art world is an unknown quantity. “We have many people who come in and they’ve never heard of a Basquiat or a Haring, and they leave feeling involved in the art world,” she said.

The gallerist said they “see a lot of millennials and gen Zs” at their two galleries and estimate that about 65% of people are first-time museum visitors.

The gallery owners made headlines after they sold a prized Banksy painting (Monkey Poison) for £1.5m to avoid laying off staff during the coronavirus pandemic, only for its new owner to lend it back to Moco. Kim called it a “miracle” at the time.

Moco owns 65-70% of its artwork, with the other 30% of the artworks on display being split between artists and private collectors who lend their pieces. “For us it’s a business model,” she said in 2018. “We’ve rented a very expensive building that we have to fill with attractive things and get people to buy tickets.”

When Moco opened its first site in Amsterdam in 2016, it was part of a wave of new galleries that altered the cultural landscape of the Netherlands.

Other private museums and galleries, including Museum Voorlinden near The Hague, Museum MORE and Museum No Hero have opened since 2016, and according to the Financial Times represent a “sea change in a country where ostentatious displays of wealth are still often frowned upon”.