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LA museums really want you to go catch their Pokémon

Michael Juliano

On Monday, seemingly everyone on the internet took a moment to pry themselves from Pokémon Go to talk about one thing: Pokémon Go.

It's an understatement to say that Pokémon Go has been popular since its release on July 6. The augmented reality app is apparently on track to surpass Twitter in the number of daily active users. Locally, there's an entire subreddit dedicated to catching Pokémon in LA. A legion of hopeful Pokémon trainers swarmed upon the Santa Monica Pier to catch a Pikachu.


But the most curious case of Pokémon Go obsession arrived on Monday as nearly every Los Angeles museum took to social media to use their abundance of wild virtual Pokémon as a sales pitch. World-class institutions like the Getty and LACMA took a break from their social media streams of Rembrandt and Mapplethorpe masterpieces to share screenshots of Rattata and Mankey—we really can't blame the Getty; they do, after all, have five Pokémon Gyms on their campus. Grand Avenue, meanwhile, is seemingly hoarding Pokémon for themselves as the Broad and MOCA's feeds stayed art-focused.

For these museums, it's more than just a playful opportunity to hop aboard the internet zeitgeist. As tour company Museum Hack pointed out, Pokémon Go enables museums to draw in visitors (and specifically millennials) in a way that encourages their guests to engage with the location and artwork. Somewhat less playfully, it's a means to use purchasable in-game "lures"—which cause a specific site to be teeming with catchable Pokémon for a half-hour interval—to attract game participants and thereby visitors. Some will inevitably blast institutions' pay-up participation in Pokémon Go as a shallow marketing ploy, but we're too busy trying to catch a Meowth underneath "Levitated Mass" to care.


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