by Sharon Wolff

Art should be something for everyone to enjoy and simply putting it in a museum isn’t enough anymore.

Mona_Lisa

In my last post, I mentioned putting exhibits online, in whole or in part. This may seem counter-intuitive in terms of getting people to come in to see what your institution has to offer; why put things online where people can view them from the comfort of their homes, when you want them to come in person?

Making things more available does not necessarily mean a drop in attendance.

In fact, when the hit Broadway musical Cats was filmed and made available on video, the show experienced a spike in ticket sales. Much to the surprise of everyone involved in the production, giving people a filmed version of the show reached a wider audience and raised their interest in seeing the show live. If you think about it, this really shouldn’t be that surprising. Just because a band sells a lot of albums does not mean that no one comes to their live shows. Usually, the better the artist’s music sells, the better their concert tickets sell too.

This isn’t just limited to performance art either, famous paintings, sculptures, and architecture around the world have hundreds of visitors every day. The Mona Lisa, Stonehenge, Michelangelo’s David, the Great Wall of China, the Hagia Sophia–the list goes on. All of these things are very popular tourist destinations, and they are also all available for your viewing pleasure online. In fact, the Sistine Chapel has a 360 degree virtual tour option on the internet that I highly recommend.

Hagia_Sophia

My point is that you shouldn’t let concerns that people will stop coming to see your collections keep you from making those items more available online. Think of it as advertising what you have rather than giving it away. Putting artworks up on the internet is a great way of raising awareness and interest in both art and the institution that holds it.

Think of it as advertising what you have rather than giving it away. Putting artworks up on the internet is a great way of raising awareness and interest in both art and the institution that holds it.

Kells

If your institution doesn’t have any artwork, consider programming that relates to it. They could be events planned around certain holidays, like an educational event about the Book of Kells and book illumination on St. Patrick’s Day. Or you could take a page out of my local library’s book and display artworks done by students from their school district that have been entered in shows. If you do host local artworks, consider putting these up on your website as well (with the permission of the artist of course). Art should be something for everyone to enjoy and simply putting it in a museum isn’t enough anymore.

 

scarf2Sharon Wolff is an Archives and Records Administration grad student at University at Albany, SUNY, soon to be entering the work force. She has interned at the Smithsonian Institute American Art/Portrait Gallery Library and has been a Technical Assistant in the University at Albany Theatre Department. She currently works part time at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives on campus.

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