The Social Museum: Bridging the Gap Between Institutional Practice and Social Presence

Lightning Talk
Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Frye Art Museum, USA, Jeffrey Hirsch, Frye Art Museum, USA

It’s that thing where a museum invites the public to ♥ paintings in its permanent collection and those paintings end up in an exhibition.

This fall, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, WA, crowd-sourced the curation of its #SocialMedium exhibition (October 4, 2014-January4, 2015), offering the public a voice to bridge the gap between a museum’s social identity and its institutional priorities.

This project disrupted curatorial practice and opened the Museum’s Founding Collection to online commentary. In the interest of increasing access and recontextualizing a collection, social media is a risky way to promote public investment in a museum.

#SocialMedium posted images of the 232 Frye Founding Collection paintings across four prominent social media networks (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr) and created a microsite as a hub for voting. Following one week of marketing there were two weeks of voting: 17,601 votes were cast by the 4,468 voters who crowd-curated through "Likes" and comments.

Examining challenges and opportunities of the #SocialMedium marketing (social, print, microsite), voting, installation, and continued engagement during the exhibition, this talk offers a case study of one Museum letting loose the reins in the wide-open global network. URL to IRL, what happens next you won't believe.

Brooklyn Museum (NY): Click!- June 2008
Walters Art Museum (MD): Public Property – June 2012
The Museum of Photographic Arts (CA): Soapbox! – Oct 2012
Plains Art Museum (ND): You Like This – October 2011
Walker Art Center (MN) : 50/50 – December 2010
Howe, Jeff. Crowdsourcing. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008.
Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody. New York: Penguin Group, 2008.
Sloan, Paul, ed. A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowd Sourcing. London: Kogan Page Limited, 2011.
Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Anchor Books, 2004.