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SXSW 2014
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MoMA Launches New Twitter Account to Get You Talking About Art

Art140 starts with 6 images

Reminds me of a Don McLean song.

The Museum of Modern Art and digital shop Possible have created a broader, thematic Twitter account called ART140 (@artoneforty), with the goal of getting more people to talk about art.

Adweek got a first look at the project, which MoMA and Possible executives will unveil Monday at a SXSW presentation in Austin, Texas. The museum, which already has 1.6 million followers on Twitter and 1.5 million likes on Facebook, sees ART140 as a means to better understand how the public feels about art. The project also creates an opportunity for people to connect with living artists.

To start, MoMA will post images of six pieces of art. They will represent a wide range of work, including abstract and landscape art, according to Victor Samra, the digital media marketing manager at MoMA.

“We’re going to be posting information about the works to get people thinking,” Samra said. “And we’ll do our best to respond to people’s opinions on Twitter and try to get more conversation going that way.”

Hashtags beneath each piece will link conversations on the feed. Also to start, Possible will reach out to the 175,000 employees at parent company WPP Group to contribute to the online conversation.

“We want it to become the most engaged art community in the world,” said David Stocks, a senior planner at Possible in New York. “And the aggregation and boiling of all that [thought] into one environment is what we believe is the incentive that will make it take on a life of its own.”

In the big picture, ART140 shifts away from Twitter’s focus to date on individuals, brands and institutions. Indeed, none other than company CEO Dick Costolo is embracing the notion of thematic streams, which rely less on chronology and more on ideas around broader topics. Some business analysts believe this is key to widening the appeal of Twitter beyond celebrities, brands and the media. Big thoughts for the masses, if you will.

By summer, Possible will compile the chatter from the new stream into a report that will hopefully broaden MoMA’s understanding of what people love and hate about art, with the opportunity to break down opinions based on gender or geography, for example.

But given the passions that people have about all sorts of topics, including art, does MoMA see a potential for backlash, like a digital version of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 1999 outcry around The Holy Virgin Mary painting at the Brooklyn Museum of Art? Well, Samra, for one, doesn’t think so, based on what he has seen on his museum’s Twitter and Facebook accounts since they launched in 2009.

“We’re not going to censor any criticism about the work or the artist,” Samra said. “I have to say, though, that in running MoMA’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, maybe 1 to 2 percent of the comments are negative about the work, MoMA itself or the artist. And it’s usually well thought out.”

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