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Special Project

Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

The Museum of Modern Art

Winner in Cultural Institution


The Museum of Modern Art is home to over 200,000 artworks, comprised of painting and sculpture, drawings and prints, photography, architecture, design, media and performance.

Our core purpose is to bring together art and people to discover the most resonant and innovative modern and contemporary art, explore ideas that shape our culture, fuel creativity, provoke thought and create conversations.

Over the past three years, we have been actively designing and implementing video strategies to deliver on this purpose to our global community of fans on YouTube.

This past year marks the celebration of several exemplary milestones in our community building and engagement initiatives on the platform, which is the reason for our entry.

Strategy and Execution

With more than 1.5 billion users, YouTube is not only the second largest search engine – it is the new television.

For this reason, the Museum rallied in 2014 to enable a new team to oversee the development, production and distribution of video content. YouTube would be our primary video platform in an effort to reach the Museum's target demographic: 18-34 year olds.

Our key performance indicators: subscriber base and subscriber engagement. (We believe these to be stronger signifiers of a more meaningful relationship with our community than, say, views, which can be bought!)


Over the course of two years, we piloted unique serial formats across three tiers: tentpole, hub, and help.

Tentpole content allowed the Museum to announce and celebrate its unique programs.

Hub content compelled audiences to return again and again.

Help content introduced MoMA to new audiences by allowing us to respond to their needs: who is Marcel Duchamp? how can I paint like Rothko?

Each content tier was developed in a serial format for numerous reasons. Serial formats help your audience develop a sense of expectation. It increases fan loyalty. It makes your audience comfortable.

This approach also helped make video a more integral part of the Museum by establishing familiar storytelling approaches amongst staff, and implementing a more transparent pathway for how to take an idea from pitch to screen.

By designing and implementing this tiered strategy, we leveraged YouTube as a strategy, and not just a distribution platform.

Key Features

Although MoMA's visitors are highly educated, most have no formal training in art or art history, and when surveyed, they report that their interest in art far outweighs their self-reported knowledge on the topic. Our video programming serves to meet the interests of this diverse audience.

"How to See" films explore modern art and ideas, and are led by curators, artists and guests alike.

"At the Museum" shows what it takes to run a modern museum, in a refreshed spin on the behind-the-scenes format.

"In the Studio" explores materials and techniques of modern masters hands-on in lessons that are equal part art history and studio.

Live programming, in the form of broadcasts and Q&As, allows us to build more direct relationships with our global community.

What makes our program unique?

- Our films are museum visits designed for the web. Enjoy them from afar, or as a preview before a show, or a deeper dive after.

- We think carefully about how our audiences might be able to experience a show in multiple ways. You can tour East Village's Club 57 with founder Frank Holliday in a "How to See" episode, and then learn how to make Xerox Art with artist Marlene Weisman in our "In the Studio" series.

- We consistently feature other channels' and creators' films in our Artists' Playlists.


As a result of these efforts, MoMA became the fastest growing museum brand on YouTube in 2017.

Our subscriber base more than doubled. 123% y/o/y to be exact, topping 150,000 subs, and resulting in 300% growth since the initiative's launch.

Twice as many subscribers tuned in regularly. In January, only 6% of our subscribers watched content regularly. By year's end, we measured more than 12%, which we credit to our regular beat of programming.

We tripled viewer engagement overall. Our concentrated effort to increase engagement by leading video releases with starter questions, responding to comments more frequently and consistently, and inviting viewers to request videos, paid off incredibly. We debuted new programming to support the increased engagement (e.g. Live Q&A series), which, in turn, rewarded viewers with direct access to their favorite personalities on the channel.

We reached new audiences. International viewership hit 63% in 2017 (up from 53% in 2016), and India entered into our channel's top 5 countries. (We also successfully diversified our viewership in the United States, pulling in more views from New York, California, Texas, Florida and Illinois!)


Video for The Museum of Modern Art

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Museum of Modern Art


Entry Credits