In most exhibitions, especially in mainstream museums, the curator is an elusive and scholarly figure, applying his or her knowledge and ever refined tastes to meticulously craft a show that will engage and enlighten.#SocialMediumdoes things a bit differently.
For this hyper-contemporary exhibition, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle invited an unusual guest curator to organize the show -- the entire internet. Over a two week period in August, the Frye shared 232 of their collection's paintings on various social media sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. Internet enthusiasts from around the globe transformed into "citizen curators" simply by "liking" an image.
While most museums exhibit contemporary content via traditional means of curation, #SocialMedium turns the equation on its head, organizing classic 19th and 20th century paintings according to the preferences of the global internet user.
In total, 17,601 votes were cast by 4,468 citizen curators around the globe -- from Bangladesh to Canada to Indonesia to Romania. Every painting received at least one vote.
"I think that one of the key aspects of this is that the project is truly global," Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director of the Frye Art Museum, explained to The Huffington Post Arts. "We have very different perspectives on view than we would have had available to us if, for example, I had curated the show. Instead we have the knowledge and perspectives of over 4,000 people from very diverse backgrounds."
The spirit of global connection and communication leads back to the Frye's original mission. "We have a collection that [dates back to] 1893 up until the 1930s. It was put together by a Seattle couple, Charles and Emma Frye. It's a global collection. They were both traveling to Europe and across the states acquiring the work. That spirit of reaching out to afar is something that I also really like about #SocialMedium. It opens up a lot of perspectives that we'd not have access to."
The most popular work was Julius Scheuerer's 1907 piece "The Peacock," which went "viral" on Tumblr with 3,525 Likes. The second most voted artwork, with 210 votes, was Franz von Stuck's "Die Sünde," which Danzker identified as the most important work in the Frye's collection.
Julius Scheuerer. Peacock, 1907. Oil on canvas. 36 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. Frye Art Museum, Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.148