Crowdsourcing the Museum? The Baltimore Museum of Art Is Issuing a Citywide Survey to Ask Locals What They Want to See

The museum says the questionnaire will help it plan future exhibitions and programming.

The Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is launching a new citywide survey, asking local organizations to help shape the future of its exhibitions and programming.

The 23-question survey, titled “Make It Now,” asks about participants’ familiarity with the museum; what era and medium of art they most enjoy; whether they’d like to see a film program; which demographic of artists is most underrepresented at the museum; and what kinds of events they’d most like to attend (such as artist talks or family nights), among other questions.

The museum is sending the survey to 300 schools, religious groups, and other civic organizations. The results will “help in planning for future exhibitions and programs while reinforcing longstanding relationships and developing new ones throughout the city,” according to a statement from the museum.

“We are excited to build upon the precedent of community engagement established by the BMA’s leadership during the museum’s first century,” Baltimore Museum director Christopher Bedford said in a statement. “I have no doubt the outcome of the survey will be very enlightening and will help guide us as we work toward reinventing the museum experience for 21st-century visitors.”

The initiative may sound timely in today’s era of crowd-curated exhibitions, such as the Brooklyn Museum’s “Click!”, a photography show juried by the public.

But the Baltimore Museum’s survey actually dates back to 1937, when the museum asked 192 local organizations what kind of art they wanted to see. After the museum tallied the answers from employees at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company (who preferred paintings and antique furniture) and the McCormick & Company (photography and labels for plants in the garden), the museum responded with exhibitions such as “Labor in Art,” “Religious Art,” “Hunting and Racing,” and “Contemporary Negro Art.”

Participants in the new survey can submit their responses through June 30.


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