“It is the spectators who make the pictures.”—Marcel Duchamp
What would our museum be with no visitors? Well…not much of a museum. MoMA isn’t just galleries filled with art, after all. It’s also the experience of art, the diverse and intensely personal experiences people have when they visit. More than three million people from over 100 countries passed through MoMA’s doors last year—and no two of them had the same day here!
Recently, we started asking ourselves: How could we get our visitors talking to us about those individual experiences? Could we come up with a fun, creative way to enrich the ongoing, two-way conversation between the Museum and the people who are so integral to it? The result is a project we dubbed “I went to MoMA and….”
We decided to ask visitors to “share a story” with us about their day at MoMA, imagining an open-ended guestbook rather than a survey; if the responses were interesting, we’d in turn share them with the larger MoMA community. On a few days in February, we tried out our idea. We placed specially printed notecards, pencils, and drop boxes all around the Museum. Signs asked visitors to share their stories: “Leave us a message, a drawing, a poem, an idea. We’re interested in your day here—what you saw, felt, and thought.” Visitors could drop the cards into the box or have them taped up on a wall in the lobby. As the wall became more thickly festooned with thoughts, comments, sketches, and jokes, people gathered around to read them, and in many cases were inspired to add their own voices to the collage. (Many seemed tickled to be invited to tape up their creations, even temporarily, on MoMA’s lobby wall.)
Afterward, sorting for days through large boxes stuffed with thousands of notecards, we laughed uproariously, exclaimed “Wow!” over and over, winced at a few sharply worded suggestions, made a complete mess of the Graphics offices…and realized that we had to keep doing this. In creativity, passion, and variety, our visitors’ responses went far beyond our expectations, and we had more amazing material to choose from than we’d ever imagined. See just a few for yourself in the slideshow below:
You can see and share hundreds more at MoMA.org/iwent. We’re sharing them ourselves through MoMA advertisements in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and bus shelters—keep an eye out for them! And in coming weeks, we’ll keep highlighting cards we really love here on Inside/Out.
Want to leave your mark at MoMA? Find us in the lobby this coming Thursday, April 7, from 3:00 to 8:45 p.m. during MoMA Nights, and share your MoMA story with us!