Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Everybody is a curator. That’s the premise behind new initiatives that many museums are taking in exhibition planning, allowing visitors and amateur art enthusiasts to determine what gets hung on the walls, and at times, even to contribute art to be shown.
I understand the draw for museums here – they seem to be saving money by crowdsourcing and the MFA Boston noted gaining 10,000 new email addresses (presumably these people are now potential new visitors or members for them, also gaining money). But personally I think it’s sort of gross to compromise the exhibit quality just for money or crowds.
People are professionals for a reason. Most curators go through a decade or more of schooling to be experts in their fields. While crowds can vote to put what they like on display, what about exhibits that challenge our thinking, challenge what we think art can be, or bring up difficult topics. It’s interesting, as the case with Frye museum notes, that it is not always the seemingly most famous works that get voted to be shown, and this certainly could present an interesting opportunity for lesser known works in these major collections to get viewing space. But curators put more thought into exhibits than which pieces are popular or not. A well curated show has a narrative and ties the works on view together in a way that changes the visitors thinking. I cannot help but feel this will inevitably be lost in these crowdsourced exhibits.
I’m curious what you all think. Has anyone been to a crowdsourced exhibition? Would you like to participate in one?