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Wikipedia Saves Public Art

Richard McCoy's picture

By Richard McCoy - Posted on 09 April 2010

In advance of the workshop this Tuesday, I wanted to present a Wiki project that started as a university class project and that I've been working on recently with Jenny Mikulay, Lori Phillips, and Sarah Stierch called Wikipedia Saves Public Art (WSPA).

Jenny and I wrote a post about our project over on the IMA's blog, called The Bird Flies in Denver.  In addition to providing background information on our project and a brief statistical breakdown of viewership of our articles, we included some suggestions that we'd like to bring forth to Wikimedia@MW201.  Here is a snippet from that post that provides some thoughts we'd like to share in Denver:

* In the spirit of the Encyclopédie and in particular the Desciptions des Arts et Métiers, Wikipedia can become the central hub of information about the materials, tools, and techniques artists have used and are currently using in their practices. Likewise, Wikipedia can become the central hub of information for the materials, tools, and techniques art conservators use in their work. An ideal article about a public artwork would include a material and technical description that was linked to corresponding and accurate information within Wikipedia.

* Public art today is often made using “current technology,” which presents an entire new set of issues. For example, Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain in Chicago is comprised of thousands of LEDs. Many technologies used in art quickly become outdated or difficult to update after a few short years. What if we could develop a similar “Conservation Status” for technologies like what exists for endangered animal species like the Bengal Tiger?

* Cultural institutions and public repositories should be encouraged to share their out-of-copyright images of public art and put them in Wikimedia Commons.

* Finally, wouldn’t it be cool if the article about Art21 and all of its seasons was as thoroughly detailed and researched as iCarly’s?

sj's picture

being a hub for context is very much wikipedia's strength -- providing an open canvas for curators and lovers of a style/medium/art to capture the details of a work, and link out to dozens of detailed perspectives about it... not just a skeletal summary with statistics and a solitary representative image.

conservation status would be interesting, though there are also the works that are not intended to last.

wadewitz's picture

As I was reading about your project, I kept thinking about all of the university students across the United States who are required to take a composition class in college. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would harness some thousands of those students to help write the articles for this project?