Art by text message

How SFMOMA is opening up its art collection to a wide public

Text a word (for example a mood, colour or item) or an emoji to the gallery and you receive an image of a related artwork in response. This is the “Send Me” concept developed by the digital team at SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, that went viral with 3.7 million texts sent in a month at its peak.

A great concept that works on many levels:

  • It is a way to share more of the art collection, the majority of which is mostly in storage, given the continuously growing collections of museums.
  • Using a popular medium like txt messaging makes it simple and approachable.
  • The artworks are among your text messages, which feels more like you are communicating with a friend – a personal experience and part of everyday life.
  • Words, colours, items or emojis, anything from the literal to the more philosophical works. Using everyday words rather than specialised art historical or curatorial terms or relying on knowledge of certain artists makes it playful and approachable.
  • Wide reaching – an idea that went viral peaking at 3.7 million texts sent in a month for SFMOMA  and triggering significant press coverage.


Author: sabine.doolin

Strategy consultant working with the cultural sector

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