• Karl Ohiri Family Portrait 2011
    Karl Ohiri Family Portrait 2011

As more of the world has come online, it has become easier to collaborate on creative projects and share them across the globe. As a result there has been an increase in arts institutions welcoming content from the public onto their websites and even into gallery exhibitions and displays.  

When considering artworks short listed to feature in The Family Matters Display, curatorial discussion turned towards the best ways in which to include representations of modern British family life into the collection. Appealing to the public for their photographic interpretations of the family and integrating them among key historic and contemporary works became a key process in our interpretation. This approach has created my food for thought.

How does the inclusion of publicly sourced artwork change the role of the art gallery?

Do you want to contribute content online or in the gallery? Or is the whole point of a museum that it is curated for you? 

We would love to know your thoughts - comment below.


i think is better life, but online makes some works easier to appreciate than travel all arownd the world trying to find what you like. i think both together are the best way to expose an artwork now days.


The museum, like any other cultural institution, is going through a rough period right now. The severe budget cuts in public funding require a more effective strategy to find new (and bigger) audiences in order to earn some extra money. But here's a problem. How do you reach people who are not naturally interested in visiting a museum? I think for that we should look into the possibilities for increasing interaction. The most important threshold for people to visit museums today is the fact that they don't understand contemporary art; they don't know its background story and because of that they don't engage with it. Working together on an artwork, either online or in the gallery itself, makes someone feel to be part of an exhibition, show or just the museum brand in general. Participation is the best way to make the audience understand how the artwork came into being, what is being meant by it and, in the end, why it is art. Because an artist who creates an artwork is interesting, but a group of people who don't know each other but are all together creating a common piece of art, that's truly fascinating. And if art has the function to 'make people evaluate their place underneath the sun', as Ann Goldstein (director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam) claims, then I'd say that only a common artwork can do that. Because it is the only thing that truly mirrors our society and its values, and the only thing that has the power to make people stop and think, as they are part of the artwork itself; they are the art itself. I think in our moment in time producing a publicly sourced artwork is not just the best marketing strategy for a museum, but also the only way to keep the audience's interest in art. And don't worry about its quality. Several thousands of visitors per day together know much more about what interests them in art than just the one curator in charge of the exhibition.

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I think the web, particularly forums and social media really open upon the opportunities for people to discuss art. That discussion has always been the best bit for me. I think the main benefit the web offers is the ability to take the discussion out of the galleries but could also allow for more sharing of personal experiences within them which is why I have taken the time to write today. My specialism professionally is in NFC (near field communication), specifically providing NFC tags. For anyone who hasn't used NFC it is in a rapidly increasing number of mobiles phones (2M+ already) and allows users to instantly link to content online. This has already been used in advertising but I think could really enhance the experience allowing people to link to and share opinions left by other visitors online through forums, social media pages etc. about exhibits or individual pieces of art. The NFC tag could simply be in the the form of a printed sticker next to the artwork or could also be used on out of gallery advertising to draw people into the debate and hopefully the gallery!

If anyone at Tate is interested in exploring this idea I would happily provide the NFC tags for a trial, exhibit etc. without any charge. It would be fantastic to better audiences experience and help them connect with art on show.


E: john@rapidnfc.com

Whilst l feel that showing artworks online is important to reach a wider audience for a museum/art gallery and as John as stated that it opens opportunities to start discussions about art, l however think for one to have a true experience of an artwork, one must come face to face with it. There is an emotional/reactive feeling that one gets one when one is in direct communication with an artwork, he/she can observe the detail, get the feeling posed by the size of the artwork, and if it is 3 dimensional, be able to go around it the appreciate the artist's skills...