It’s no surprise that the National Gallery of Art wants to update their website and make their overall approach more savvy to Web 2.0 criteria. The problem, however, lies in keeping the museum a distinguished figure in the art arena while also making it something that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy.

NGA should allow collaboration on their website—without totally losing control. In doing so, they are the content holders even if they are not always the content creators. They can also use outside sources—such as a YouTube channel or a Flickr gallery—to get people to contribute their own videos.

This means that NGA should use crowdsourcing to a certain degree. They’re not relinquishing total control, but they’re still allowing museum goers to interact with the art and product their own.

Michael Sikorsky elaborates on this idea by saying that “crowdsourcing is the distinction between the wisdom of crowds and the participation of crowds. Not a lot of people separate these two but I try to separate them a lot. Sometimes you do not want both.”

In NGA’s case, they need to couple the idea of crowdsourcing with communications professionals at the museum. The communications pros can provide the necessary channels for museum goers to participate online while not creating their own material. It’s a tricky balance, but if the gallery aims to be up to par with their competitors it’s a necessary step.

Once the foundation of Web 2.0 is established for NGA’s new website, they need to make sure that people are eager and willing to collaborate. Angelo Sotira details the Deviant Art website and how it evolved into the artist community that it is today. Deviant Art is now one of the largest art forums on the web. Artists of all kinds come together in this outlet to express themselves.

Deviant Art may solve the problem that NGA could have in terms of controlling the content that people contribute to the website or other channels. Crowdsourcing gets difficult—unless people come to understand what to contribute. According to Sotira, the cultural context determines what is acceptable:

“And what it comes down to is culture, because our culture dictates what is and what isn’t okay. Our culture sort of decides who is and who isn’t a great artist. Our culture decides on some level if something does or doesn’t belong here. It’s not very overt, but you will get a general sense of acceptance or rejection if you submit certain things.”

Hopefully the contributors to the National Gallery of Art website will recognize what to collaborate on and what to share, while also having the help of the museum to moderate the content. NGA has the potential to exceed the standards of their competitors. It’s a tricky balance, but one that NGA should definitely experiment with.

Advertisements