A significant message to come out of the Smithsonian 2.0 discussions was the need to facilitate a dialogue between our staff and our visitors, both on-line and on site. At the Luce Foundation Center at the American Art Museum, we think we're already pretty good at that. People can comment on our Web site and in-gallery kiosks, or they can talk to people at the always-staffed information desk. We document everything and have made many changes in direct response to visitor feedback. (If you want a list of every question or comment we've received at the information desk since July 1, 2006, we can get you that!) We're talking to people on Facebook and the museum's blog, and created an exciting conversation through the ARG Ghosts of a Chance. But the conference really got me thinking that it would be wonderful to involve our visitors in true behind-the-scenes activites. Can we do this in a way that is engaging for the participant, but also honestly useful and not too time-consuming for the staff?
We came up with an idea that we think might be successful. When an artwork leaves the Luce Center (to go elsewhere in the museum, to go out on loan, or to go to the Lunder Conservation Center) and will be gone for more than twelve months, we need to replace it. Can the public help? We think they can, and created this page as a test run. What do you think?