The Friends of Riverfront at Beloit, Wisconsin (USA) -a broad based group of volunteers sharing a passion for enhancing and celebrating community living along Beloit’s riverfront- has given a lesson of imagination, creativity and sensitivity. This group has accomplished with real people a recreation of the famous painting by George Seurat, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte-1884.”
This replica of “Sunday Afternoon…” was nevertheless made on Saturday (though also afternoon) on July 1st, 2006 at the banks of the Rock River in Beloit to promote an August group’s activity called “Saturday in the Park with Friends.” The result was a complete success: a day of fun, community life, collaboration and creativity; in addition to an engaging ‘tableau vivant’ on the Seurat’s exceptional painting at the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The event not only demonstrated popular initiative’s potential in making appealing contents, but also some possible applications for Art Museums. Underlining the wide range of possibilities of Social Software, this project provides a wonderful example to the lots of art museums still reluctant to open the creation and interpretation of their contents to their audiences. What, if not, is a museum but humans’ creations and interaction?
Accordingly to the collective and collaborative spirit of the project, some images of the event are available online thanks to Social Software. In this photographic set at Flickr you can also find comments, anecdotes and more information, such as an animation of the making off, which is also described at Oldonliner´s blog (one of the organizers of the event.) In addition to this, the experience has also been featured in an article significantly titled “Art is Alive Along the River,” published at Beloit Daily News by Ann Montgomery.
In a former article, “Web2.0 Photographic Project by National Museums Liverpool” we told how Web2.0 not only can engage new audiences to art museums, but also can get their collections being revisited by contemporary visions. Now and thanks to the Friends of Riverfront we can enjoy another example of how incredibly engaging contemporary public can be interpreting art collections through web2.0 tools.
Finally, a wish: it would be wonderful if the Art Institute of Chicago included the Friends of Riverfront’s initiative as part of the complementary information about “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884.” Not in vain, this is one of the best feedbacks and homage a museum could ever have on its collection: people making alive their art works.