MPRG creates challenging and comedic TikTok content with Mary McGillivray

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is believed to be the first gallery in Australia to launch a TikTok channel, commissioning Mary McGillivray to make a series of videos that take a deep dive into their permanent collection, which have amassed an engagement level not seen on any other platform.

Mary McGillivray is an Australian TikToker and video essayist making visual culture analysis accessible for the next generation.  After graduating from The University of Melbourne with an award-winning honours thesis in Art History, Mary was accepted into Cambridge to further her studies.

However, the pandemic hit, and she had to stay in Melbourne – so she began making engaging, challenging, and comedic video content for TikTok about visual culture history. Within months, her TikTok channel blew up to over 345,000 followers. She is now getting requests from museums and galleries across Australia to host workshops and participate in debates about classical art history versus contemporary art.

In the MPRG TikTok videos, Mary explores the MPRG collection with a contemporary lens, exploring themes around multi-culturalism, the uncertainty created by COVID-19 and Australian beach culture in short videos.

Mary explains: “I think MPRG has had great success with TikTok because people don’t expect an art gallery to be on it. There’s surprisingly a lot of people making videos about art history, so the interest is clearly there and more galleries should embrace that. TikTok has the ability to reach a far wider and relevant target audience due the intelligence of its algorithms, it knows very quickly what content people like, and directs it to them faster than any other platform. The key to highly engaging videos is having authenticity, videos don’t need to be super professional and polished, they just need to be honest and passionate and they will resonate well.”

Gallery Director, Danny Lacy says, ‘Traditionally the youth audience is very hard to engage. We have an education officer who does programs in the gallery and in schools, however, we saw TikTok as a new avenue to engage youth in what a public gallery does. Mary’s TikTok videos have been a great way to present our collection to a national and international audience and the comments and intellectual engagement on the videos have far surpassed any other engagement we’ve seen on other social media platforms. We see it as a brand-new way to interpret our collection.’

Mary will soon be heading to Brisbane to participate in an art history debate for Masterpieces from the Met. MPRG now has over 2,500 TikTok followers, attracting thousands of views, likes and comments, reaching a wider and younger audience.

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

More information: 5950 1580 or mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au

MPRG’s TikTok channel: MPRG (@mprg_vic) TikTok | Watch MPRG’s Newest TikTok Videos

Mary McGillivray TikTok channel: Mary McGillivray (@_theiconoclass) TikTok | Watch Mary McGillivray’s Newest TikTok Videos