Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia last fall, Dr. Latham (the MuseLab‘s director) wanted to try crowdsourcing an exhibit back home in the MuseLab. This globally-crowdsourced museum crowdsources their exhibits by asking for objects and stories that tell about heartbreak. These objects are displayed in one of the two physical spaces in Zagreb or L.A. and in the museum’s digital collection. For more ideas, we looked at the Museum of Broken Relationships and other crowdsourced museum projects (Click! A Crowd Curated Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008 and the Chicago History Museum’s 2013 project to crowdsource ideas for future exhibitions), and now, we are hosting our own crowdsourced exhibit at the MuseLab this spring.
Crowdsourcing in museums invites individuals to participate in the exhibition process. We invite YOU to write the labels for objects we’ve selected from a collection of museum object replicas from across the world. We want to know what YOU have to say about each of these objects— What do they make you think about? How do they make you feel? Are they familiar? Do they represent something beyond their immediate appearance? Do they inspire you? Have you ever seen the actual one in person? This is your chance to express yourself and help
share what you want to say with MuseLab visitors, through #YourLabel.
As a crowdsourced exhibit, #YourLabel shares some of the curatorial responsibilities that a museum is usually provides. By opening up the interpretation of these museal objects to include many voices, we can challenge the “authority” that museums hold and give voice to the visitor. In a typical scenario, an object is shared in a museum gallery with a single label that may be crafted from a scholarly point of view by a curator or curatorial team. In this exhibition we are interested in seeing what happens when multiple perspectives come together around a single object and we challenge participants to think about the format and content of their labels creatively. We hope for new kinds of labels, poetry, math, stories—whatever is may be that YOU want to say about the object. And we are excited for our visitors to see these labels written by our audiences near and far, and hopefully be inspired to write their own labels in the gallery.
At the beginning and middle of each month, we will sharea new object along with a suggested prompt (which participants can choose to follow or not) in our outreach case next to the library’s front doors. When we move each object up to the MuseLab, we exhibit it along with all of the labels that were submitted. We accept label submissions through our social media links or analog style on paper. We differentiate between the different submission channels by including an icon and a designated color on each label.
The most important part of developing this exhibition on our end was designing a platform that would allow participants to access the information they need to contribute to the exhibit and a clear process for how to share submissions with us. We added a page on our website that fulfills these needs and gets updated with each new object. We also ask for submissions through our social media channels, email, a mailbox posted on our library’s first floor, and in the gallery.
We’re very excited about this exhibit and we’ve already received some great label submissions! These labels are challenging our notions of what a museum label can look like and giving participants a voice in a museal space that is often reserved for a select few. If you’d like to include #YourLabel in our exhibition, visit our website to view the objects and make your submission! And come to the main gallery to see what our label-writers are saying!