Museums and the Web

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F. Scott Hess at Open Museum

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F. Scott Hess and Open Museum
Small Museum: 
Small Museum

F. Scott Hess at Open Museum:

Scott is a contemporary painter who lives in Los Angeles. His work has been displayed in over one hundred group shows on three continents. He is represented in numerous museum collections, and his work has been catalogued and reviewed extensively. Hess is represented by Hirschl and Adler Modern in New York, and Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles.

So why would he want to create an online museum of his own?

It turns out that Scott has quite a lot to say and share about his work, including preparatory sketches, autobiographical details, and the influences of other artists. He is also quite willing to discuss his work with registered visitors.

F. Scott Hess used Open Museum's content management tools to create an online exhibit with three themed collections.

The Hotel Vide - A murder mystery in ten paintings

The Hotel Vide is a murder mystery in ten paintings. Each painting represents a character in the hotel, in a specific room, on a specific day, at a specific time. Each piece carries plot and character clues. The visitor is invited to try to solve the mystery on his or her own, or as a group by discussing the clues in the comments section. (Note: comments are only visible to registered users.)

The Hours of the Day - a Contemporary Book of Hours

The Pissing Boy

The Hours of the Day, a six-year project based on the medieval Book of Hours, features twenty-four paintings, each one representing a single hour of the day. In his discussion of The Pissing Boy (3 P.M.) Scotts explores the origins of his desire to shock the establishment, as he puts it, the ‘paternal’ authority that he both desired attention from and simultaneously distrusted. Scott has posted six of the 24 paintings so far, and is adding the rest on a regular basis. (In fact the remaining 18 have already been created and he is simply publishing them at a regular tempo so that his.) 

The Seven Laughters of God - A Modern Rake's Progress

The paintings in The Seven Laughters of God series follow a young artist as he navigates the trials and tribulations of a creative life. Originally derived from an Egyptian creation myth, the seven laughters are Light, Firmament, Mind, Generation, Fate, Time, and Soul. These are weighty themes, yet the subject is laughter. The pitfalls of trying to lead a painter’s life are many, setting up choices that are confounding, and in retrospect, often absurd. 

Rationale for the Best of the Web

A self-confessed 'Luddite', Scott started curating his own museum with only a brief tutorial over Skype, and the aid of the Open Museum curators' screencast tutorials. Scott's work as an artist is interesting in and of itself, but in the end, what's really striking about the site is Scott's engaging and authentic enthusiasm, his frankness, the 'thickness' of the supplementary material and the artists willingness to engage with his visitors. The exhibit arguably conveys to the visitor a better sense of where the artist is 'coming from' than they could get from the paintings alone. 

Scott's presence at Open Museum is an excellent example of an emerging hybrid type of online museum that integrates the ambiance and protocols of traditional museography with the social media and self publishing trends of the world wide web.

We think this is a significant trend that web-savvy museums and museum professionals should accept and embrace. 

Rational for Small Museum Category

Open Museum is itself a small startup organization (with only three full time unpaid staff members, one of whom is a sock puppet) and an (at times) dismayingly low budget. Open Museum is sponsored by Heritance, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. Heritance is paying Open Museum's server fees, travel and incidental expenses, and is hoping to start paying the employees a salary within the next 12 months, but in the meantime, all the work is being done pro bono. Does that count as 'small'?  

Scott built his site himself using Open Museum online content creation tools, at absolutely no cost except his own labor. If that doesn't qualify as 'small', I don't know what does.


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