Reviewed December 2019
Librarian for the Fine Arts, New York University
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s YouTube Channel hosts video content produced by the Met Museum in relation to its exhibitions, collections, conservation efforts, artists’ interviews, and musical performances. All content is copyrighted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is freely accessible on the open web through the YouTube platform. Due to the encyclopedic nature of the Met’s collections, which span over five thousand years of international art, the video content also covers a wide range of art forms including a section of videos focused on fashion collections at the Met. Collections and activities of the Met Fifth Avenue, the Met Cloisters, and the Met Breuer are all included. Content is generally uploaded on a monthly basis, and users can subscribe to the YouTube channel to receive notifications when new content is available. Video segments range in length with most videos averaging around two or three minutes.
The ease of accessibility makes YouTube a great choice as a platform for this content. If a user is signed in with their Google account, they can save videos to watch later, access their liked videos, and view their watch history. Viewers can also easily share a video via its URL or directly through several social media platforms. There is an opportunity for user engagement through the comments feature, and the Met has the ability to “like” user comments or reply with text as a response. High quality closed captioning is available on all videos as well as options to view them in full screen, miniplayer, and theatre mode. As is true of other YouTube channels, this channel queues up content relevant to what the viewer is watching and plays it automatically when the original video is finished. Users can search by keyword throughout the Met’s video content, however, the search bar is discrete, and users may instinctively type in the search bar at the top of the page, which searches all of YouTube rather than just the Met’s content. The structure of the platform is much more conducive to browsing than known-item searching.
The videos on this platform all have superb production quality. The choice of video format allows for the incorporation of many different types of multimedia including interviews, footage of behind the scenes locations, text overlay, still images, music, and documents. The inclusion of artists and museum professionals in these videos provides credibility that is extremely valuable to researchers. The “Artists on Art” and “Conserving Art at the Met” collections seem to be the most appropriate for academic researchers. Videos found in the “Met Exhibitions” collection seem to have been created more for marketing purposes than as educational tools. In the “Met Collects” section, a new acquisition is highlighted each month, an approach that appeals to both academics and general interest users alike. The captions that accompany all the videos vary in quality with some containing spelling and grammatical errors. Many captions contain links to the Met’s website with more information about the artworks as well as information on who was involved in the production of the video, but the length and helpfulness of this content varies across the platform. Therefore, the audience for this YouTube channel may range from scholars and students to art enthusiasts and amateurs. This content could easily serve as a segue for an educator to discuss the featured content in more detail or to appeal to those who are visual learners.