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The Art of Transparency

November 7, 2008

Last week, I mentioned in my post that the curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s latest exhibit, Artistic Luxury, had a blog and a vlog to talk about the exhibit.  That got me thinking.  I realize that most people outside of the art world don’t know much about it, which is why art institutions are so important.  They are great places for people to improve themselves and learn about ideas they haven’t been exposed to before.

What goes into an art exhibit?
When a person goes to an exhibit, especially one like Artistic Luxury, he or she is seeing the end product of a lot of hard work.  Artistic Luxury borrowed art from museums in seven countries, which takes a lot of negotiations, not to mention shipping.  Once all the art is actually in the museum the curator has to figure

Women's Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art hanging art

Women's Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art hanging art

out where it all should go and then it has to be put in place very carefully.  Let’s not forget about all the public relations efforts that get attention for the show.  I’m sure there are lots more elements in curating an art exhibit I’m leaving out.  The fact remains, the general public never sees this side of the museum.  What they see is beautiful objects in a tranquil setting, not all the stress and endless hours of work that got it all there.

Why should an art museum be transparent?
Because there are so many behind-the-scenes elements to curating an art exhibit, it’s a really good idea for the curator or the museum to have a blog about it.  This gives the museum transparency, which is important because so many things happen behind-the-scenes that the public doesn’t see. 

What is transparency?
Elizabeth Albrycht, writer of Corporate PR, describes transparency as providing information to the public instead of hording it.  She says transparency helps people to understand the company and shows the public justification for decisions.  This way the public can make better decisions about the company.  In corporate PR, this is important because you don’t want to look like the corporation is hiding things.  People can become distrustful of companies that don’t let the public inside, which leads to bigger problems later on down the road.

How does a company become transparent?
With all the social media and new technologies it is very easy for a company to become transparent.  Twitter, blogs and e-newsletters can all be utilized to provide the public with important information.  The curator of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Museum has a great blog that lets people into his reasoning for choosing art exhibits and it even has interviews with artists.  It’s really interesting to get this behind-the-scenes look at what goes into an art museum, not just for an art-nerd like me but for everyone else too.  People who go to museums a lot would be interested in knowing why and how an art museum does what it does. 

Transparency can be a incredibly useful PR tactic.  Allowing curators or CEOs to share their personal voice with the public can generate a lot of goodwill from your audience.  It helps you reach out with your message even more than just traditional mediums.

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