Frye Art Museum

I had a long day and had limited energy.  But I was determined to trek up a monster hill (ok not really a monster hill) to get to the Frye Art Museum.

Entering the space I was immediately greeted with the Frye Art Museum’s #SocialMedium exhibit which recently opened on October 4, 2014 and will run until January 4, 2015.  I was being tasked to be a ‘curator’ of the space and I wanted to learn more.

“It’s that thing where you ♥ an image and that painting goes in an exhibition,” is the tag line under which the Frye Art Museum in Seattle crowd-sourced the curation of its exhibition, #SocialMedium, over a two-week period in August, 2014.

People all over the world were invited to vote online for their favorites among 232 paintings via social media networks Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. The voting process was extensively tweeted about and received wide national news coverage.

The challenge, “You are the curator,” went out and was met: 17,601 votes were cast through “Likes” by a diverse community of 4,468 curators. The global network spans Seattle, the US, and beyond, to Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, and Vietnam.

Every painting in the collection received at least one vote, but the clear favorite was Peacock (1907) by Julius Scheuerer (German, 1859-1913), which received 3,525 Likes when it went viral on Tumblr.

International news media picked up the #SocialMedium story and commented on the transformation of the role of curator the project embodies. The Istanbul newspaper Zaman noted that the Frye exhibition is “a critical look at the curator’s function and draws attention to the role of social media in the arts world.”

Paintings loved by the Seattle public since the founding of the Museum in 1952 were in a tight race for the top five favorites:

Die Sünde (Sin) (ca. 1908), Franz von Stuck – 210 votes

View of Königssee (1878), Dániel Somogyi – 208 votes

Moulting Ducks (1900), Alexander Max Koester – 206 votes

Gardeuse de moutons (The Shepherdess) (1881), William-Adolphe Bouguereau – 176 votes

Curators around the world not only voted for their favorite paintings, but also provided commentary and interpretations of many works. #SocialMedium showcases select comments and includes a unique short URL for each of the 41 paintings in the exhibition, enabling visitors to access a Facebook page with all comments on a painting.

Visitors can add new comments to any of the Facebook pages while in the galleries. Posts on Twitter and Instagram using #SocialMedium will appear in a real-time feed on a screen in the galleries.

The names of all 4,468 curators appear on the title wall of #SocialMedium, a collaboration with a team comprising the Frye’s Collections, Curatorial, and Communications departments and external partners Civilization, a Seattle firm devoted to design as a means of social change, and Dylan Neuwirth, an artist and social media consultant.

#SocialMedium is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by 4,468 guest curators. The exhibition is funded by the Frye Foundation with the generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. It is sponsored by Civilization. Seasonal support is provided by 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and ArtsFund. Media sponsorship provided by The Stranger.


The Frye Art Museum is indeed doing some game changing work by stitching in the popularity of social media together with classic and modern art and by asking for audience participation in curating the space.  A truly dynamic interactive way for people to research, study and immerse themselves in art at its core.  Hey, if Beyonce and Jay Z can take a selfie with the Mona Lisa and blow up Twitter,  it’s time we bring our game by ‘hearting’ otherwise not as well know art to the forefront with friends, family and the internet.

The space at the Frye Art Museum is ‘oh so casual’ but cohesive.  Even museum security staff was outfitted in comfy and relaxed jeans and tees.  I instantly felt like I was in a new kind of museum space.  The matching of the relaxed vibe and stunning pieces of art allowed me to shake off the stiff upper life I had been sporting earlier in the day at another well know museum down the hill.

The art will indeed move you at the Frye Art Museum.  Perhaps because I let my defences down I was just able to let go and really look at the art for what it was.  I felt very present.  I had a love affair with Julius Scheuerer ‘Peacock, 1907’.  The splendour of seeing such majesty even without his full plume exposed.  The contemplation in his stance got me thinking of how I stand, what am I putting it out there?  What do people see?  How do people approach and interact with me?

I had never heard of Otto Hierl-Deronco before coming to the Frye Art Museum.  But was entranced by his ‘Spanische Tänzerin’ (Spanish Dancer) piece. I had tweeted that this picture was reminiscent of J. Lo.  I loved the Spanish Dancer’s dress and the cockiness in her portrayal.  She reminded me of a can can dancer but there was a certain posh classiness to her.

My favourite piece had to be from Gustav Majer (also known as Schwabenmajer).  The piece was entitled ‘Stella’, 1989 and was Austrian, 1847–1900. Oil on canvas.    I was drawn to her for the beautifully ornate frame.  But as I stared closer she oozed Venus qualities in all her beauty and porcelain skin.  Stunning and romantic.  I’d love to have her in my home.  I don’t think I’d ever leave the house.

Another added neat element at the Frye Art Museum was the presence of artisans who approved by the museum were painting the works hung on the wall.  It was so neat to see ‘the process’ honoured at the Frye Art Museum.

Indeed the social medium presence is timely to get the word out, but I appreciated as a visitor to the space that the Frye Art Museum is involving our upcoming generations in appreciating art.  The homage to the artist and their talented painstaking work that brings us such joy and inspiration to our lives and work was a beautiful touch.

The Frye Art Museum – indeed was worth the hike up the hill.  A thrilling and interesting space with works that will leave you breathless and looking forward to your next visit.  Don’t forget to take a selfie for posterity and post it to your social media accounts.

Free admission and free parking

704 Terry Avenue

Seattle, Washington 98104

206 622 9250

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