More than 4,000 amateur curators voted for their favorites among the 232 oil paintings in the Frye’s founding collection. That nude, called Stella, had never been exhibited before.
  • COURTESY OF FRYE ART MUSEUM
  • More than 4,000 amateur curators voted for their favorites among the 232 oil paintings in the Frye’s founding collection. That nude, called Stella, had never been exhibited before.

We are the people's museum!" PR guru Jeffrey Hirsch exclaimed at the Frye Art Museum last week. This fall's exhibition, #SocialMedium, dethroned the curator and let the people vote on the art. The result is 40 paintings paired with comments posted about them from online participants in lieu of curators' labels. Untranslated comments convey the reach of "the people's museum"—and #SocialMedium drew people from every populous part of the globe.

Their voting booths were Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. On those four platforms, the Frye posted its founding collection in JPEGs and opened voting for 11 days in August. By the end, 4,468 amateur curators had voted for their favorites among the 232 paintings. The museum chose the top 40—Casey Kasem would be so pleased—and selected comments for the wall text. Printed on the walls below each gilt frame, in cheery blue vinyl, are hearts and word bubbles...

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