Thanks to SFMOMA, Art is at Your Fingertips Like Never Before

Art is different for everyone. Whether it’s a painting, a portrait, clothing or in some other form, we all enjoy art to certain extent. In the world of technology, those behind some of the greatest exhibits are looking to make art much more available to all. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is doing its part to ensure we all have access to our favorite pieces, and are able to discover so much more, by integrating art with something we all do every single day.

Introducing ‘Send Me SFMOMA’

A few years ago, Google created a service known as SMS Search. The service basically allowed the user to ‘google’ different words or phrases via text message and receive information in the same thread. I was actually in high school when this service rolled out, and I used it very often. As Google tends to do when certain services become obsolete, it eventually killed the SMS Search platform.

SFMOMA has essentially taken what worked so well for Google and tailored it to fit into the world of art using its very own database. The museum has launched a service that sends applicable pieces to anyone who chooses to search certain terms using their phone’s SMS feature. By simply texting the phrase “send me” followed by whatever search term or keyword you’d like to ‘572-51’, you prompt the service to send back a piece that is relatable to your query.

To make it even better, you aren’t just tied to using words in your search. You can actually send SFMOMA emojis to represent your keyword. I was a bit skeptical, so I tried it out myself. While my search for ‘earth’ didn’t exactly receive an abundantly clear result, the piece sent back to me does have the word ‘hemispheres’ in the title, suggesting some relation to my search.

The museum definitely has some bugs to work out, but overall this service is definitely expected to make a big splash with both art lovers and those just beginning to discover it alike.

The efforts that made ‘Send Me SFMOMA’ a reality

The ‘Send Me’ service has been a work in progress for quite some time. Kier Winesmith, head of SFMOMA’s Web and digital platforms, told NPR that over the past ten years, the museum has been slowly adding more and more keywords to its online library of pieces for the purpose of this service. That’s right, this has been a decade in the making.

The efforts have surely paid off, too. Just within the beta testing phase of the service, the museum received a staggering number of requests. Per the ‘Send Me SFMOMA’ information page: “Within four days, more than 12,000 text message requests were received, generating over 3,000 different artworks (that’s more than what is currently on view at SFMOMA) sent to users across the globe. Once we recognized the popularity of this service, we secured a short code — a preapproved five-digit number that carriers know not to blacklist.”

The museum says that it doesn’t expect for any user to get all of its works in one collection, but instead hopes to start more conversations about art pieces and the people behind them. It’s also very personable when you really think about it. “When you say ‘Send me a landscape’ you won’t get 791 landscapes, you’ll get a landscape chosen just for you. You may one day be able to visit your landscape in SFMOMA’s galleries, or you may be the only person to see it for years to come,” says Jay Mollica, SFMOMA’s creative technologist.