Not only a beautifully condensed cross section of the world's taste in art, but also a compelling portrait of our present day modes of connection and communication.
In 2014 we collaborated with Frye Art Museum on strategy and design for their #SocialMedium exhibition, which allowed Frye’s social media following to act as museum curators for their fall exhibit. The exhibit’s concept and execution took interactive design to a whole new level. Frye Art Museum is one of the few free museums in the nation. The museum was founded in 1953 as a center committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. The museum’s permanent collection was born out of Charles and Emma Frye’s personal holdings of late–19th and early–20th century European paintings.
Charles Frye’s will required that the majority of his personal collection always be on view in “rooms of a certain size” within the museum. The collection has been on permanent display for the last 50 years so everyone in the community that has interest in the museum has already viewed the collection. Our assignment was to shift the community’s perspective of Frye’s permanent collection by presenting individual works that users could like and comment on resulting in an exhibition of the 50 pieces that had the most online engagement.
After deliberation we realized that we could reach a much broader audience by going to where the audience was already engaging. So rather than construct an entirely new platform we instead leveraged social media as the primary channel. Followers voted via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr on which works they would like to see displayed at the exhibit. Each “heart” or “like” counted as one vote. We built a microsite to attract patrons and give them all relevant information on the exhibit. Once the show was on view anyone could go on a virtual tour of the exhibition through the site, this footage was then archived.
The identity was born out of digital symbology, such as emoticons. One of the exhibition’s hero images was a portrait of founder Charles Frye displayed beneath glass bearing the exhibit’s identity to illustrate the converging of the past and the future. In designing the web experience we used internet blue as a color pallet and set the site within its own graphic frame to mimic the frames found in the exhibition. Within the physical exhibition the walls are spot-colored yellow to give a vibrant pop throughout the show. The number of hashtags and comments are featured under each piece, and selected comments from citizen curators from around the world were applied to the walls. At the start of the exhibit you are faced with a list of over four thousand names of the social media handles of citizen curators from around the world. The concept of citizen curation and the channel by which curators were engaging was applied to every inch of the brand.