CITIZEN SALON: A Crowd-Sourced Exhibition from Penn’s University Art Collection

December 1, 2018 – March 24, 2019

We know what we like, but what do YOU like? To mark the Arthur Ross Gallery’s 35th Anniversary, we invite our audience members to partner with us by selecting artworks to be included in the exhibition.

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Citizen Salon FAQ

Thank you for participating in our project! Crowd-sourcing involves making choices that influence the project as a whole. We strive to be transparent so that users understand our process.

How is Citizen Salon different from your regular exhibitions?  

Usually, our exhibitions are organized by a professional curator or partnership of co-curators, who are typically art historians with specialized training and experience in creating exhibitions.  Essentially, the curator is the person who identifies the theme of the exhibition and selects artworks from the collection to help tell the story.  The curator for Citizen Salon, Heather Moqtaderi, had an idea: What if we used the incredible resources and talent of our audience to reveal aspects of the University Art Collection that have remained hidden or unapparent to those of us who work here on the “inside.”  We believe that the power of art lies in its ability to communicate universal truths about the experience of being human. Themes like memory, joy, loss, and beauty speak to all of us though these artworks. By crowd-sourcing the artwork selections for this exhibition, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of our audience through an exhibition that represents a broad spectrum of interests.

What’s the meaning behind the title?

Salon is a nod to the informal gatherings of friends who met and exchanged ideas about art, music, literature, philosophy and politics – a practice that flourished in Europe during The Enlightenment.

The Citizen part is about you.

What artworks are included in the Citizen Salon choices?

The artworks come from Penn’s University Art Collection. This crowd-sourcing project doesn’t include all of the works in the University Art Collection – only a portion. We selected pieces that are in good, stable condition for exhibition. Within the selections, each artist is represented by just one artwork. The artworks generally date to the 19thand 20th centuries because those are the periods primarily represented in the University Art Collection.

Why didn’t you include artworks from other art collections?

We used Penn’s University Art Collection because we have permission to reproduce these images. Since they are in Penn’s University Art Collection, we are also free to borrow these for the exhibition with no additional restrictions.

I don’t see some of my favorite artworks in Penn’s University Art Collection on the Citizen Salon site? For instance, Thomas Cole’s Landscape Scene from The Last of the Mohicans: Death of Cora and Frank Stella’s Abra III aren’t options to select. Why is that?

The artworks available for Citizen Salon are those not on public view. We aren’t including artworks that are permanently installed in public locations on campus.

How are the artworks organized on the Citizen Salon site?

They are arranged in a grid of tiles that are sorted randomly.  Did you know that, when given a choice, people typically prefer the middle option?  It’s called the “Center Stage Effect.” To avoid this, the Citizen Salon website is designed so that artworks are randomly arranged and shuffled.

Why are only paintings and works on paper available? Why no photography or sculpture?

Penn’s University Art Collection is primarily two-dimensional. While there are sculptures in the collection, they are mostly permanently located on campus and unable to be relocated to the Arthur Ross Gallery for exhibition. We didn’t include photography because that would restrict the lighting in the gallery during the exhibition. While the Arthur Ross Gallery does host exhibition with lighting restrictions, we want this installation to be brightly lit and have the ability to open our gallery shades to let in natural light.

Will you be providing updates as the crowd-sourcing progresses? Will you provide up-to-date statistics on the crowd-sourcing?

We’ll share the results when the voting closes on September 15, 2018, but not before then. We want to avoid the “Bandwagon Effect.” That is, if one artwork seems to be getting a lot of votes, one might be more likely to vote in favor of that piece. We want to hear what you think, without the potential of being swayed to vote one way or another.

How can I ask more questions?

You can submit an inquiry through the University of Pennsylvania Office of the Curator Website