WikiProject: Public Art was developed in 2009 by Jennifer GeigelMikulay, public art scholar and assistant professor at Alverno College, and Richard McCoy, objects conservator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The two co-taught a class at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis about museums collections care and management, and integrated the idea of documenting IUPUI’s public art collection on Wikipedia. Students wrote articles about all 33 artworks, utilizing the Smithsonian’s Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey as the basis for their work.
This survey, which was produced by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the mid-1990s, had volunteers in all 50 states document notable public artworks. These thousands of sculptures are listed on the Smithsonian’s SIRIS database – with information including artist, title, creation year, condition reports, locations and art historical information. This first project, that Richard and Jennifer produced in class, helped students learn not only art historical and collection writing skills, but also citation skills, object photographing skills, and of course the skill of writing Wikipedia. They also learned about copyright in Wikipedia, since most of the artworks are within copyright, and gained what we hope to ultimately achieve – an appreciation for the artworks often passed by as part of the landscape.
I was not in that class, and in late 2009, Jennifer and Richard, along with fellow Wikipedian Lori Philips, asked me to become involved. I was exploring the use of geolocational applications, like Gowalla and FourSquare, and they had interest in how these tools could be used to geolocate and bring “awareness” to public art. So, I jumped on board. At that time, I was editing very little – mainly janitorial tasks – and once I stepped into the beast of public art – I was hooked. The four of us co-created the most documented list of Indianapolis, Indiana, public art. We created the list on Wikipedia, and proceeded to start to write articles – bringing in students within other museum studies classes to participate. Over 400 sculptures are documented in some capacity on Wikipedia by way of list or individual article in relation to Indianapolis – more than any other city in the world.
And if that tells you anything – 400 articles – created by over 50 IUPUI museum studies students, and Jenny, Richard, Lori and myself – we really like to create articles. Our ultimate goal? To create articles about public art, expand existing articles relevant to public art history, and most importantly – to raise awareness about public art existence within communities. I’m proud to say that our project has, over the course of just over two years, our project has produced and expanded over 500 articles related to public art in Washington DC, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis. In total, our project has tagged just under 1600 articles internationally about public art on Wikipedia.
And to clarify – for us, public art means anything in the public sphere that is free to access. Sculptures in your local park, murals in your neighborhood, statues in a shopping mall, or my personal favorites – grave markers and memorials. This can also include sound installations and performance art. I’m going to touch base on our three major task forces – Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.
Indianapolis served as the pilot project, and with the success of the IUPUI project, and media attention from organizations such as the Chronicle for Higher Education, we proceeded to our next project in Indiana – the Indiana Statehouse Project. Richard McCoy and his students proceeded to document approx. 40 artworks in and around the Statehouse, advocating for their conservation and public awareness. This project earned McCoy and his class a concurrent resolution award from the State of Indiana.
JenniferMikulay would eventually leave Indianapolis to teach at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She took the project to the students of Milwaukee and proceeded to create a list of public art for the city of over 100 works and have written 63 articles about these artworks. Started in Fall 2010, as of May 2011 these articles totaled over 70,000 views. A lot of people took notice in the area, including the Milwaukee Arts Board, who proceeded to hire a part time staff member to serve as a public art wikipedian, writing high quality articles utilizing the Arts Boards sources.
And now onto me…
I often say that Wikipedia changed my life. As dramatic as it sounds – it has. Whether it’s by expanding my social pool to like minded people, bringing my own personal awareness and passion for public art to the forefront of my art history research, or allowing me to discover a true passion for the marriage of art and open source technology. When I was asked to participate, I became addicted – creating lists for public art collections of cities I’ve never been too – utilizing second sources online – most notably the SIRIS database I mentioned earlier. This database allowed me to declare “notability” and became one of the best tools for making sure that ‘speedy deletion’ was erased from the public art documentation debate.
I now live in Washington, DC, where I’m getting my masters in museum studies. Before I even moved I began to create a monster – the largest public art list on Wikipedia – devoted to Washington. The District is divided into wards, and I created a list based on each ward, with geolocations and all the appropriate data. Based on my research, my list of public art is the largest and most concisely documented list relating to Washington, a city that boasts over 700 public artworks.
My first Wikipedia “social” event was WikiX in DC. I spoke about my public art project - and succeeded to crowdsourceWikipedians to contribute articles and take photographs. To date, we have written over 300 articles relating to public art in DC.
WikiProject: Public Art now has task forces in Paris, Madison, Adelaide, Australia, Hampton Roads Virginia, London, Boston, Baltimore, and Venezuela – with more on the way we hope. To date, we have brought on 58 new editors. Our current e-volunteer base totals 90 active Wikipedians.
To date we have uploaded over 1,500 images CC-BY-A to Flickr – providing a repository for plucking of images for Wikipedia articles, Commons, and crowd participation by way of comments (we have users that help us identify unknown artworks!). And those 1,500 images are 95% from Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Washington.
Through this project, we hope to bring awareness about public art to the public on a larger scale. Through Wikipedia, have been able to share stories about these artworks, encouraging care, adoration and celebration of works. I like to write about memorials in graveyards – and the stories I have discovered about some of these individuals have allowed me to truly fall in love with public art. I’ve become emotionally attached – I’m emo for public art.
WikiProject: Public Art
WikiProject: Public Art<br />Sarah StierchUser:SarahStierch@Sarah_Stierch<br />