Magazine article Art Business News

Sourcing the Crowd: A New Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston Puts Curating in the Public's Hands

Magazine article Art Business News

Sourcing the Crowd: A New Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston Puts Curating in the Public's Hands

Article excerpt

"Crowdsourced" exhibits--museum shows that are partially or completely juried by the public--have jumped in popularity throughout the past several years. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston recently followed the trend with its latest exhibit, "Boston Loves Impressionism." Casting more than 40,000 votes via smart phone and Facebook, the public selected their 30 favorite art pieces out of 50 impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the MFA's collection.

Malcolm Rogers, the MFA's Ann and Graham Gund Director, launched the project to find a temporary home for the museum's impressionist collection during gallery renovation.

"We are thrilled with the overwhelming response of voters," Rogers says. "We're always looking for innovative ways of reaching new audiences and presenting the collection. An important part of our mission is to make art accessible to all. Crowdsourcing and other online initiatives help to break down barriers between the public and the world of fine art, so that everyone feels welcome and can experience our treasures in a variety of ways."

Brooklyn Museum helped spearhead the crowdsourcing movement in 2008 with "Click!" an amateur photography exhibit juried I by online voters. Other museums have followed a similar hands-off approach, like the 2012 "Public Property" exhibit at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which allowed the public to vote on the exhibit's title, theme and artwork.

Community-curated exhibits have been met with mixed reactions from critics. Brooklyn Museum's "Click!" and "GO," a 2012 community-curated open studio project, both received lackluster reviews from The New York Times. …

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