Leave it to the museum at the heart of Silicon Valley to conquer the intersection of technology and art.
In 2017, legacy institutions mull over a single question — how do I get hip with those millennials? Yes, the exotic individuals born roughly between 1980 and 2000 continue to befuddle and seduce in equal measure. At 75.4 million strong they make up a sizable portion of the nation’s market share. And everyone wants a slice of the pie.
But, the mysterious cohort of 18-34 year olds are just gosh darn obtuse. What with the Snapchat and the Instagram and the fidget spinners. Organizations from businesses to non-profits throw millions at consultants, specialists and every manner of whispers in the hopes of catching even slightest glimpse into our souls.
The drive to understand the fastest growing segment of the American population is perhaps no more urgent than for the art museum. Already in critical condition after the Boomers and Gen Xers, the Millennials represent the final saviors for the art world — or alternatively, the final nail in the coffin.
SFMOMAs offers up the latest in the parade of millennial pandering known as “Send Me.” Simply type “Send me <insert noun/adjective/emoji here>” and shoot it off to 572-51. Wait a few seconds. Then, with a electronic bang, a shot of world class modern art will arrive in your message queue. Attribution helpfully attached.
Jay Mollica, SFMOMA’s creative technologist (a job title to make any millennial proud), spear headed “Send Me.” He describes the program as a way to grapple with a fatigue face by many a twenty something: “In a world oversaturated with information, we asked ourselves: how can we generate personal connections between a diverse cross section of people and the artworks in our collection?” SFMOMA has over 34,000 artworks in their possession. Even the most dedicated museum goer wouldn’t have time to see them all.
“Send Me” may be a shameless attempt to appeal to millennials, but it is a shameless attempt that works. It’s mobile, digital and spontaneous. As we numbly scroll through feeds and walls, Send Me provides an interactive and unexpected shot of creative genius in your inbox. It’s exciting to see what you’ll get. It’s fun to see what emojis can come into play. It makes you want to go see the life size version of your text message masterpiece, outside of your phone screen, at a museum.
Well played SFMOMA, well played.