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Parklandia: Stretching, Striving To What End?

TuileriesGardens_460Most art museums seem to be stretching for “relevancy” these days, whatever that really means. And so we have, at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, a “community-driven” gallery section named Portlandia to accompany a current traveling exhibit called  The Art of the Tuileries Garden. In collaboration with the Louvre and the Musée Carnavalet Histoire de Paris, Portland, the High Museum and the Toledo Museum of Art developed the exhibit. It contains, according to the press release

…more than 100 sculptures, paintings, photographs, and drawings by some of the most acclaimed European and American artists from the 17th to the 20th centuries, including works by Camille Pissaro, Édouard Manet, and others who have taken inspiration from the iconic Parisian landmark. Visitors will see monumental sculpture by Coysevox and Bosio for the first time in the United States. …

The exhibition features more than 50 rarely exhibited photographs, from a unique full-plate daguerreotype to modern interpretations of the Garden. Vintage French albumen prints document the aftermath of the Paris Commune and Tuileries Palace fire of 1871, while turn-of-the 20th-century views by Eugene Atget, a master photographer and chronicler of Paris’ changing environs, capture the elegant sculptures installed throughout the Garden. Additional works by renowned photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Michael Kenna suggest the peace, beauty, and mystery to be discovered in the heart of Paris.

Pissarro-Place_du_Carrousel_Paris_web705In Portland, however, that was not enough: The museum felt compelled to develop a local angle, Parklandia.

In partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation and the Portland Parks Foundation, the Museum is asking people to share images of their favorite Portland parks on Instagram using the hashtag #captureparklandia. The final space in the exhibition includes a monitor showing these images of Portland’s public spaces along with map detailing the 200 parks in Portland.

So, I invite you to go to that section on Instagram above and to check out the museum’s Instagram feed. Do you see anything as remotely interesting as an Atget photograph? As the Kokoschka at top or the Pissaro below?

Me neither.

So I have to ask: why are museums doing things like this, and why do they think they would get people interested in art?



  1. Note, I am not in Portland, only know about this from this piece and looking at some of the links. As a planner and parks advocate in DC who writes about various aspects of local cultural policy, I don’t agree with your take as it relates to making connection between art about specific park spaces in Paris vs. “parks” in Portland.

    Yes, the photos aren’t comparable to the best of the paintings in the exhibition, but some are really cool. And the events (the “Force of Nature” series on parks planning issues in Portland) aren’t art-related, but it is a way that the Museum can help to spark a more informed discourse about parks planning and the local collection of parks assets.

    Given how many cities and states have made serious cutbacks in parks budgets, or the discussion in your NYC about the big successful parks and their independent funding streams and should the successful parks “pay a tax so to speak” on their revenue stream to help support underfunded parks assets, I think it’s a step forward by the Museum and the local parks community to attempt to make these connections.

    What if they would have done a plein air event, would you like that better? Although I do think that would have been a good event to hold.

    cf. and

  2. Elaine Calder says

    Perhaps art museums (and performing arts organizations as well) do things like this because public and private funders reward community engagement? And/or because they believe community engagement is a worthy end in itself? And/or because things like this use social media and we all know we mustn’t be left behind in the dust?

  3. the nameless eye says

    I think Ms. Calder gets to the root of the problem in her first sentence. The funders are a big driver for this kind of misguided and wasteful project. The exhibition itself is excellent, the local component seems a feel-good adjunct that someone in something like the education department thought would be a good idea. Why not just put on an excellent exhibition and leave it at that, I always wonder.

    • I semi-disagree. I don’t think the funders are always behind initiatives like this. I think many in museum leadership positions believe that this is “outreach” to new audiences and the community. What if anything it has to do with art is immaterial to them.

      • Elaine Calder says

        I did say “perhaps”. I know that not all funders expect or reward this kind of activity. And the suggestion that the education department might have dreamed this up certainly resonates with me. Producing or curating art is no long sufficient for some people in our organizations, but it’s blasphemy to suggest this kind of “outreach” is actually a form of mission creep.

  4. Judith,

    As I near the end of my second year as Director of Education & Public Programs here at the Portland Art Museum, I find myself more interested than ever in how a museum can connect with its community and its place. Even before I arrived at the Portland Art Museum, the institution was already strongly envisioning itself as a platform for community dialogues, conversation, engagement, and critical thinking in relation to its collection and exhibitions (this certainly was something that drew me out here). And in the past couple of years, the team here at the Portland Art Museum has continued to work with the Portland community in new and unique ways to be a museum of its place, not just a museum in its place.

    The #captureParklandia project you question is part of this ongoing work to engage our broader community. #captureParklandia is designed as a way to spark thinking about parks, gardens, and experiences with green spaces in our own community — in conjunction with the stunning exhibition now on view, “Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden”, which explores the art, design, evolution, and experience of Paris’s most famous garden. Through the #captureParklandia social media photography project, museum visitors and the public community are encouraged to share their park experiences and memories, and also to discover new park spaces and think about them in a new light through the lens of the Tuileries. With art serving as a catalyst, #captureParklandia — alongside our robust series of programming this summer that includes a Plein Air paint out weekend in the park spaces adjacent to the Museum — allows the museum to serve as a platform for public engagement and community dialogue around issues relevant to the life of our city and its region. I firmly stand behind the success of this experimental project in social media and place-based digital engagement, and I am proud of the Museum’s extremely relevant partnerships this summer with Portland Parks and Recreation and the Portland Parks Foundation through this project.

    I would encourage you and your readers to learn more about #captureParklandia by reading this blog post by Kristin Bayans and Justin Meyer, who led the effort to connect with Portland’s Instagram community and developed this exciting project with the support of a cross-departmental team here at the Museum:

    I appreciate your bringing up these questions, as it is always important to have an open dialogue about these issues as we face them in the ever-changing landscape of museums in the 21st century.

    I look forward to further reader comments, and to continuing this important exchange.

    -Mike Murawski
    Director of Education & Public Programs, Portland Art Museum

    • Mike, almost all of this is in the museum’s press release and descriptions, which I posted. I think we understand what you are doing. Trouble is, we find its connection with art and the exhibition tenuous at best. Some posters, as you see, think funders are behind this. I think you are doing this and things like it of your own accord, and I think it’s misguided.

      • Parklandia may not resonate in a big way, but it’s clearly a well-meaning attempt to connect with a broader public. Who can blame the museum for that? I could be off base, but a problem here seems to be the project was planned and executed largely by the education department. Not sure what role marketing or even the curators played, but it seems the idea could have been developed more and partnerships with other local groups strengthened. It would help, for example, if the sponsor, Portland Parks & Rec, listed something about the project on their website. More importantly all great outreach campaigns have at their core a story to tell. It can’t just be a blatant attempt to increase social media posts and followers. That just annoys folks, especially reviewers. A good example is the I Went to MoMa campaign, which started as a simple idea of communicating people’s authentic experience within an art museum.

        • Good point: I wrote about “I Went to MoMA…” which initially didn’t look worthwhile to me but I looked deeper and I ended up approving of it:

        • Gerry – thanks for your thoughts and questions. You raise an interesting issue about how these interpretive projects are planned, and how museums communicate about that process (if at all). This specific project was the result of broad collaboration within the museum (including Curatorial, Marketing, Collections, and Exhibition Design) as well as the broad community partnerships with Portland Parks & Rec, Portland Parks Foundation, and other local partners. Not only has this become rather standard practice for us here at the Portland Art Museum, but this type of collaborative, visitor-centered planning continues to be increasingly common practice for art museums across the board (ie. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Cleveland Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Oakland Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Dallas Museum of Art … just to name a few).

    • Laura Roberts says

      Very well said, Mike. Thank you for such a thoughtful response and, what seems to me, to be a great way to make art more accessible and personally meaningful to a wider audience.

  5. Judith,

    I’m struggling to understand your opposition to this. Museums have always adapted their methods for the media available, whether printed catalogues, postcards and posters, broadcast television, social media and whatever media technology comes next, and the argument about museum as temple and/or forum is decades old. Is there any evidence that it’s a harmful or wasteful activity or do you just not like it? Or perhaps you could unpack what you mean by ‘misguided’?

    Why wouldn’t taking photographs in response to an exhibition theme get people interested in art? Conversely, why wouldn’t seeing the photo stream inspire someone to visit the gallery? #captureParklandia seems a lovely way of linking the gardens captured in artworks with gardens that Portlandians can visit every day.

    I’m sure you’ve seen many galleries encourage people to sketch their artworks. Very few of those sketches would be as ‘remotely interesting’ to an observer as the gorgeous Kokoschka above, but to judge it on that alone misses the point of the activity. And if sketching an artwork is an act with some inherent value for the sketcher, why doesn’t a different form of creative response to the themes of an exhibition also have some inherent value for the creator? Or to put it another way, some sketches and some photographs created in response to art experienced in galleries will be good artworks in their own right, but it doesn’t mean the others don’t also have some value.

    Best regards, Mia

    • I’ve already said I find the connection with art to be tenuous at best — even in the museum’s information about Parklandia. I think it’s off-mission and, here’s something I hadn’t yet said, if you look at the photos, so many are of/about the people taking them, not even about the parks. It’s akin to people going to museums to take selfies in front of famous paintings. It’s not about the art; it’s about them.

      • Judith, thanks for your response. I think I’m failing to understand what you mean by ‘connection with art’, if reflecting on or using the exhibition’s work as a catalyst doesn’t count. Is there a form of audience response you would consider to have a stronger connection to art?

        (And surely most paintings are as much about the painter as the scene they depict?)

        I had a quick look but couldn’t find Portland Art Museum’s founding or current mission online, but their website is full of events like ‘Art & Conversation’ and lines like ‘lively conversations on the nature of contemporary art practices’ and ‘The Portland Art Museum believes in community’, so to me it seems to be in line with their mission.

        Best regards, Mia

        • If the pictures showed signs of reflecting on the exhibition, it would certainly be better. “Catalyst” to take selfies or pix of their kids — not so much.

          • So backing up Mia here and continuing this, you say that if the pictures showed signs of reflecting on the exhibition, that would be “better.” And thus actually connected to the art.

            Therefore, am I correct in saying that your problem with the Portlandia activity isn’t the activity itself, but how visitors responded to it? If the pictures had been, in your opinion, clearly inspired by the exhibition, it would have been OK, but since you have classified most of the pictures as not being inspired by the exhibition, it isn’t?

          • Not quite: I don’t think the Portland museum’s description of the project did much to encourage photographs that had a connection with the art. Read the comment by Mike Murawski below. If the project had been framed in a better way, the results might have been different and, in my opinion, actually related to the exhibition.

  6. I suspect this one may come down to a difference of opinion between you and me about what a museum’s many functions can and should include, and I don’t expect anyone’s mind to be changed here, but I wanted to chime in on two points.

    One is a response to your reply to Mia above where you refer to this project as “off-mission”.

    The Portland Art Museum’s mission statement reads:
    “The Mission of the Portland Art Museum is to engage the public with art and film of enduring quality, to facilitate dialogue with diverse audiences, and to collect, preserve, and educate for the enrichment of present and future generations.” (

    I don’t see how this #captureparklandia project deviates from that.

    Two is an art historical response to your point that most of the #captureparklandia photos say more about the people taking them than the park spaces themselves.

    The Tuileries gardens have, for literal centuries, been one of main public spots for Parisians to stroll, relax, and show themselves off. To see and be seen. Parisian social and art history has a rich tradition of park-goers looking at each other (that’s what Manet’s “Music in the Tuileries”–among others–is all about:,_Londres,_1862).jpg#mediaviewer/File:MANET_-_M%C3%BAsica_en_las_Tuller%C3%ADas_(National_Gallery,_Londres,_1862).jpg).

    Again, I don’t see how #captureparklandia and its social media images of people looking at people in parks differs from the historical usage of the Tuileries gardens themselves.

    • Ah, yes, but museums have been rewriting their missions to include initiatives like this — but I still think it’s not much about the art. Second, of course gardens are for strolling. But the show is about art of the gardens, not use of the gardens. I would be more tolerant of this initiative if the photographs were of a higher artistic quality and less about the person taking them.

      I also agree that no one’s mind here, on either side, is about to be changed.

    • In case anyone wonders about “mission creep” here at the Portland Art Museum, here is a link to a recent project that explores “A History of Engagement” at the Portland Art Museum since 1892. The timeline focuses on Museum engagement that moves outside of standard practice or reaches beyond the museum walls to build relationships, fosters community participation, and makes clear that a museum can be a center of not only cultural engagement, but civic, social, and community activity. The project was a collaboration between the Museum’s 2013–14 Education Department Artist-in-Residence, Jen Delos Reyes, and Sarah Lampen, the Museum’s 2013–14 Samuel H. Kress Foundation Interpretive Fellow, with illustrations from Portland State University student Olivia Serrill.

  7. Mick Orlosky says

    Ms. Dobrzynski, You didn’t wait for an answer to your question “Do you see anything as remotely interesting as an Atget photograph?” You simply assumed my answer was the same as yours. That pretty much sums up your entire criticism.

    If that is the way you wish to approach your fellow viewers, I suppose we could ask if by reading this piece, do we find anything as remotely insightful as a John Ruskin or John Berger commentary? If the answer is no, I suppose we could then ask “to what end” ArtsJournal would include your blog under its aegis.?

    Of course that’s not the way to go about this. You’ve a platform to engage with modern culture. You can dash off blog content and we’re free to engage or not engage no matter how silly we find it. You can write a piece that is the journalistic equivalent of a “selfie” — “Everyone! Play attention to how *I* react to #CaptureParklandia! Am I interested in other views? No, I’ve assumed they’re just like mine”

    Perhaps you can soften your heart and realize that any endeavour to engage “The Public” with “The Art” will result in a dialog in the contemporary vernacular. That is to be cheered in this case, not dismissed as you have done. If we see selfies and kids and people enjoying public spaces, then that is a successful connection between what has come before and where we are now, in the visual language of the day.

    So, to return to my response to your question before attempted to preempt it Yes, I did find some things as remotely interesting as an Atget photograph. And, I applaud #captureparklandia.

    • How odd for you to pick at my answer — readers are still entitled to register theirs; my response does not preclude them. I’m glad you found something artistic on Parklandia; responses to art are subjective after all. I would never ever pretend that a blog post is anything remotely like a Ruskin essay! I disagree that I am not interested in other views — I agreed with several here, and I’ve responded to others that I disagreed with. If I were not interested, I wouldn’t publish any views that I disagreed with, would I? Note that other bloggers on this site DO NOT ALLOW comments.

  8. Stephanie Parrish says

    As Richard Layman’s post suggests, #CaptureParklandia is just one of many points of entry/reflection for visitors to consider in “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuilleries Gardens”. If one looks closely at the universe of exhibition-related public programs, one will find scholars and thinkers on historic French landscape design all weighing in on the specifics of the Tuileries and its place in Paris across time. In tandem, the exhibition has provided an amazing opportunity for the Portland community to reflect on the past, present, and future of its own parks system. In fact, the Portland Art Museum’s front doors open right onto the city’s historic South Park Blocks and are part of the fabric of the Museum experience. We all have a vested interest in understanding how parks reflect and live in our own communities, as well as those farther afield. Parks are social spaces where communities come together. #CaptureParklandia isn’t so different. On August 9 &10, the Portland Art Museum will host a “Paris in the Park Blocks” weekend that will include among other things a “paint out” with some of the region’s finest professional plein air painters, photographers creating portrait tin-types, and a community painting project. We will host a free community screening of the classic film “Gigi” in partnership with our friends at Portland Parks and Recreation. Visitors will flow freely between and among the Tuileries exhibition and the experiences outside in the South Park Blocks. I hope and expect that much of this will be documented and shared via #CaptureParklandia. In my opinion, it’s all good! Stephanie Parrish, Associate Director of Education & Public Programs (Portland Art Museum)

  9. All wonderful. Why weren’t these ideas communicated before the exhibition opened (as in the press release sent to Judith)? Or if that were not possible, communicated in a larger, broader public medium, say, your website or social media efforts which should be in a position to reflect evolution of your programming? If not, you are relegated to correcting people’s assumptions and defending your good work — one site — at — a — time. You talented and clearly passionate staff at the Portland Museum ought to be focusing on your next exhibition right about now, not reputation management of an earnest outreach program in the works. Portlandia is not a new idea. You can’t blame it on the process of experimentation. Earnestness only goes so far.

  10. Justin Meyer says

    Hi Judith and all,

    I was the Portland Art Museum summer intern that worked primarily on the captureParklandia project. I am also a PhD student from the University of Michigan researching the relationships between art museums and cities (my home department is urban planning, but I am also a student in the museum studies program).

    The conversation sparked by Judith’s blog post is an extremely valuable one for anyone who is passionate about museums, and their role in society, to have. I must admit that as a scholar-in-training, it is very exciting that a project I worked on has elicited such passionate responses (both supportive and critical) that implicate museum philosophy!

    Perhaps because I come from a non-traditional educational background (at least with respect to museum studies), I perceive the artistic value of the Louvre’s Tuileries exhibition as not just a demonstration of compelling aesthetic objects, but also as a story of the political and social importance of the Tuileries garden throughout Paris’ history. (For example, the bullet holes in the sculpture Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent and Peyrotte’s The Counsel of Monkeys, or Politics in the Tuileries Garden tell stories of how Tuileries was a site of political struggle and formation; several Kertész photographs convey how the Tuileries is a place where students meet, children play, and individuals relax). We wanted our project, captureParklandia, to give Portlanders a chance to share how parks and public spaces play equally important roles in the life of our city, just as the Tuileries has in Paris. This is the connection that we had in mind between captureParklandia and the Art of the Tuileries exhibition.

    CaptureParklandia has so far produced some wonderful results, in my opinion. By opening up participation using the social media platform, Instagram, people who have never visited a museum or reflected on the art of the Tuileries have done so. People have shared old photos they took on trips to the Tuileries alongside photos taken inside the Tuileries gallery. People have communicated how they now look at Portland park spaces differently and with more historical perspective. There are also many photos of Portland parks that are especially aesthetically compelling (curated on our project’s in-gallery digital display), taken by talented local photographers and artists who use Instagram as a way to share their work with the world.

    Judith, you make an important point that the art museum has a unique identity in preserving and exhibiting objects of formal and technical excellence (at least, that is what I have gleaned from your writing). However, I don’t see how that is in any way threatened by our captureParklandia project. Why can’t the Portland Art Museum, and art museums in general, be an institution that preserves and exhibits ‘great art,’ as well as drawing more locally relevant connections with that art?

    Kind regards,
    Justin Meyer

    • I’m with you much of the way here, Justin — and then you use that word “relevant.” It reminds me of the live broadcast of the opening of the great Leonardo show at the National Gallery in London a few years ago. The TV anchor was asking curators “why is Leonardo relevant today”? How sad, and ridiculous, that someone would ask that question of Leonardo. What makes great — but older — art “relevant”? Must art always have a contemporary angle to me relevant? Must it have a local angle to be relevant? Not to me.

      • If everyone had as much education and social capital as you and posters here then relevance might have less of a role to play. However, as it is, a lot of people feel intimidated by museums and galleries, are worried that they don’t know how to behave in exhibitions, haven’t been taught how to look at or enjoy artworks, or are just plain busy. Making art relevant is just one of the ways museums and galleries encourage people to spend some time taking in works of art.

        Cheers, Mia

        • That’s today’s orthodoxy, but I don’t entirely believe it. It has been said so many times that everyone does, though.

          • I think that just makes you very lucky! But I think people keep saying it because they’re drawing on research about why some people don’t attend museums and galleries. Presumably there’s something that you’d find a bit intimidating to do for the first time that might serve as a touchpoint? I know I’d feel a bit out of place and worried I’d mess up the etiquette of going to, I dunno, a college football game or a ballet class without someone to show me the ropes.

          • Maybe I am lucky, but I didn’t grow up around art or visiting a lot of museums. And I wonder why these same people, often young, will go out late at night (clubbing?) without fear, will compete in ever riskier sports, will take chances driving, etc. etc. etc. without intimidation, but find a museum intimidating. There’s a first time for everything.

    • Justin, something else just occurred to me. You say “people who have never visited a museum or reflected on the art of the Tuileries have done so.” But one doesn’t have to visit the museum to post a picture on Parklandia, right? How do you know people are visiting the museum because of this? How do you know they’ve reflected on the Tuileries? Couldn’t they just have heard of Parklandia and posted pictures, without any visits or reflections at all?

      • Justin Meyer says

        Judith: the evidence I have for these claims are from conversations with multiple members of InstaPDX — the Instagram social community that helped us jump-start our project — as well as posted conversations and pictures on Instagram. (you can search all of our project’s hashtagged photos and their comments using a web application like and searching for “#captureParklandia”)

        It is possible, and indeed likely, that some people have posted with our project’s hashtag who have and will never visit the museum. It would be unreasonable to expect that captureParklandia have a 100% success rate, or that everyone who posted to our project be reflective of the Tuileries and Portland parks in a meaningful way. But through the course of interacting with the Instagram community, we have discovered the ‘causal linkages’ that our project creates: getting someone who has probably never heard of the Tuileries to visit the exhibition because of their interest in Instagram or Portland’s parks; inspiring that person to share their experience of the exhibition on Instagram; and finally, having that person demonstrate some amount of reflection through their interpretation of Portland parks in their Instagram photos.

        • In other words, anecdotal evidence. That’s an important clarification.

          • Justin Meyer says

            If the question is “has anyone visited the Tuileries because of our project?” or “has anyone reflected on Portland parks in a way influenced by the exhibition?” we have evidence to answer “yes.” It is these questions that we have used to test whether our project was successful.

            If your standard for judging a project like this worthwhile is “how much” it affects the visitation of the exhibition or “how influential” it has been — then yes, we would need more than ‘anecdotal’ evidence. (Because my time limit for this project was 3 months and a budget of $0, I did not have the resources to set up a quantitative survey study to answer these questions).

            Further, our evidence is more than ‘anecdotal.’ Anecdotal evidence only tells someone whether something happened or not. Our evidence tells us *why* people came to the Tuileries, *why* they posted the pictures and comments that they did. This is why case study research is and has been a vital method for answering questions about how or why something happened in the social sciences and even the natural sciences. (For example, the field of medicine uses case study research methodologies all the time because of the financial and practical limits of their studies).

            The question(s) you want to answer in a study (such as asking whether captureParklandia led to new visitors to the Tuileries exhibition and reflection on Portland Parks in a new way), as well as your financial and practical limitations, dictate what methods and evidence your use. We used a case study, qualitative method to assess whether our project was successful, because we wanted to know whether our project led to the outcomes we set as goals, and how our project achieved them.

          • Can you share the evidence you have that someone (more than one, actually, even though you can’t quantify it) visited the museum because of your project? And how you gathered that information?

  11. Justin Meyer says

    I think based on your last comment, the conversation seems to be winding down. Thanks for initiating a discussion that has certainly been fun and rewarding for me.

    Kind regards,
    Justin Meyer

    • Yes, I agree — enough said. Unless you can share methodology/evidence.

      • Michelle Moon says

        It’s become commonplace for critics of social media projects to argue that one can’t draw a direct line between online participation and visitation. But we’re also admittedly unable to draw that line for traditional advertising or for reviews in major dailies, and very rarely measure it. Does that make those methods less than worthwhile as outreach strategies intended to result in greater awareness of the museum’s existence and its exhibition program, and greater museum visitation? Do billboards and radio ads frustrate you as much as the Instagram campaign does?

        • The issue here has gotten confused. I have nothing against social media projects at art museums when they are related to the art! That’s it, plain and simple.

          • Michelle Moon says

            So, imagining yourself as a viewer in the gallery, you don’t see any potential for someone to encounter contemporary photos of parkland in their own city, and thus be presented with an invitation to ruminate on the continuity of the idea of establishing park preserves in expanding metropolises as an aesthetic response to industrialization, the opportunity to think about the ongoing tradition of image-making as a way of celebrating and extending that aesthetic response, and the understanding of linkages between the broad historical, architectural and social trends and the impulses that led to the development of the Tuileries, and the forms those same impulses take today? It just doesn’t seem a giant leap to relate this project to the art, and I”m having a hard time understanding how those ideas – well worth thinking about in an age interested in public art and improving the urban experience – would escape an intelligent viewer.

          • This is so far off track, that I am not going to respond.

  12. I think this is a great debate of arts education and community. I think as educators, we will always be trying things that work and stay around, but trying things that don’t as well – the process of finding that amazing engagement opportunity does not spring out of nothing. I think the Parklandia project is one that is engaging in new generations and technologies in ways that are allowing arts education to evolve, whether it is a project that can be seen as successful or not.

    As an educator of a small town where people don’t go to see art, and unlike big cities, we won’t get visitors coming in to see the gallery just for the art, community engagement projects like these function as education and marketing in one. I don’t see a problem with people engaging with the project without going to the museum – they are engaging, and through multiple experiences like these they may start seeing galleries as places that are relevant to their lives because of content, rather than pretty pictures. Engaging in art for art sake is an archaic, elitist activity that doesn’t give art credit for it’s actual function of questioning, explaining and visualizing cultural and social contexts. People think art is about looking at pictures, but projects like #Captureparklandia start discussions and engage in the exchange of ideas (like this thread) that allow our cultural landscape to evolve. Saying that this project’s connection to art is “tenuous at best” says to me that you don’t understand that art is meant to spur conversations, to encourage personal connections to themes or ideas, and that is exactly what this #captureparklandia is doing, despite it’s lack of a strong connection to specific artworks in the exhibition.

    • Needless to day, I disagree with you completely that I don’t understand that art is meant to spur conversations. I never said in any of this conversation — or anywhere else, for that matter — that art is just for art’s sake. In fact, earlier today I shared (on Facebook) what looks like a wonderful art installation in London marking the start of WWI. (Have a look: That certainly is meant to spur conversations.

      As for towns/cities with little art that draws people in and of itself, I empathize and look for creative solutions. But you can’t say that about the Portland Art Museum.

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