April 9-12, 2008
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Sessions: Abstract

Getting 'In Your Face': Strategies for Encouraging Creativity, Engagement and Investment When the Museum is Offline   go to paper

Ian Rubenzahl, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Colin Wiginton, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Gillian McIntyre, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Martin Lajoie, Portrait Gallery of Canada, Canada

In 2007 the Art Gallery of Ontario ( closed its doors temporarily to complete the renovation and installation of a new Frank Gehry-designed facility. In the months leading up to this closure, the Gallery experimented with different ways to keep people connected to the institution. One of the most high profile programs to emerge during this time was the exhibition In Your Face that began with a call for submission asking the public to send in postcard-sized portraits.

The response to this project was unprecedented and resulted in the AGO receiving over 17,000 portraits that were initially presented within a gallery space normally reserved for blockbuster exhibitions. The success of this endeavor led the AGO to experiment with various on-line presentations of similar content that further demonstrated that museums can function as catalytic agents when open to experimenting with a combination of innovative programming and on-line access.

The success of In Your Face also attracted the attention of the Portrait Gallery of Canada ( , a public gallery without a permanent home, and resulted in a partnership that made it possible for the exhibition to be re-mounted in Ottawa, and made it accessible to a national audience. Tracing the evolution of In Your Face through its various forms of presentation and partnership, this paper examines issues of significance to museums and galleries as their relationship to the public is forced to evolve in response to changing circumstances, including those times when collections may be inaccessible and the building itself is offline.

Session: User-Generated Content [Social Media]

Keywords: Web 2.0, user generated content, social media, visual art, portraiture, actual/virtual, art museum, participatory, partnership, collaborative, community, creative, personalized, storytelling, exhibition