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How Are Museums Making Art Accessible in the Digital Age?

There are a whopping 34,678 pieces of art in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s collection, far more than can be displayed in the museum's galleries. In fact, only about 5 percent of the collection -- including pieces by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Frida Kahlo, Edward Hopper, and Andy Warhol -- can be shown at any one time. But now, an SMS service called "Send Me SFMOMA" is allowing smartphone users to see gems from the SFMOMA vault. By texting the SMS service a descriptive word or even an emoji, you will immediately be sent an image from the collection that is somehow related to your keyword.

Art appreciation in the digital age:

  • SFMOMA was hoping for 100,000 texts this summer, but the number of responses quickly passed 2 million.

  • Want to try it out? Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, a color, or an emoji and you’ll receive a related image via text message.

  • The service is automated, so identical keywords can yield very different results. The most requested keywords: love, happy/happiness, flowers, dog (or dogs), cat (or cats), ocean, San Francisco, food, and music.

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