Museums often face the problem of not having enough room to display their whole collection. Not even the Hermitage, the biggest museum in the world, can show every piece in its archive at the same time. That’s the reason museums have a permanent collection and special exhibitions — displaying some of the works they keep stored, getting some masterpieces lent from other museums, or a combination of both — throughout the year.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, of course, is no exception to the rule. But they have managed to find a great way to keep their collection “exposed” to the public all year long: via SMS, through a service called Send Me SFMOMA.
SFMOMA’s collection is “so large that we can only show about 5% of it in the galleries at any given time,” and if you were to walk past each artwork currently displayed, “you would walk almost seven miles.” Also, the average museum visitor “spends approximately seven seconds in front of any artwork. How much can you really appreciate in seven seconds? And even if you did spend seven seconds in front of each artwork in SFMOMA’s collection, it would take nearly three days to see them all.”
Of course, SFMOMA is not looking to substitute the experience of visiting a museum with some easy surrogate. On the contrary, it’s all about sharing the whole collection with the public.
So, if you want to get a piece of SFMOMA on your mobile, just follow the instructions at their website:
Enter Send Me SFMOMA. Send Me SFMOMA was conceived as a way to bring transparency to the collection while engendering further exploration and discussion among users. Send Me SFMOMA is an SMS service that provides an approachable, personal, and creative method of sharing the breadth of SFMOMA’s collection with the public. Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, a color, or even an emoji and you’ll receive a related artwork image and caption via text message. For example “send me the ocean” might get you Pirkle Jones’ Breaking Wave, Golden Gate; “send me something blue” could result in Éponge (SE180) by Yves Klein; and “send me 💐” might return Yasumasa Morimura’s An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns). Each text message triggers a query to the SFMOMA collection API, which then responds with an artwork matching your request.