After its $305 million dollar upgrade, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is now considered the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, even surpassing New York’s Modern Art Museum. And with 34,678 pieces of artwork in its collection there is both the opportunity to show a ton of work—as well as the direct challenge to reach viewers in a meaningful, and not oversaturated, way.

This amount of content would just be way too much for the modern person to absorb—both physically and mentally. So we sent technology in to handle the job. The solution? SFMOMA came up with a brilliant SMS service “Send Me SFMOMA” texting project offering up a more personal and randomized approach to viewing their collection. But, as we’ve seen with Siri and our other robot-brained counterparts, the results can be varied, unexpected, inconclusive and sometimes hilarious.

Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, color, or an emoji and you’ll receive a related artwork image and caption via text message. Here are 15 images we found while searching this addictive texting service.


It’s also worth noting that this is the second time this texting service had been released. This time, the service uses the text #572-51, instead of a ten-digit number, which was getting confused with spam the first time the project was launched, as explained by Smithsonian.com.

The latest version has definitely gone viral since it officially went live in June and has since gained widespread attention. According to the Gothamist, when actor Neil Patrick Harristweeted about the project to his 26 million followers, the museum had so much demand that its system crashed. It has since been working, as far as we can tell. It will be interesting to see if people will continue to return to texting for more images, or if it’s a one-off experience, while the novelty factor is still fresh.  In either case, we had fun some fun with it.

For you statistics nerds, here are some mind-boggling SFMOMA provided numbers about the size of their collection and this project.

  • The museum would need to be seventeen times its given size in order to show its full collection at one time.
  • Only about 5% of the gallery is on view at any given time
  • You’d have to walk an estimated 121.2 miles to see the whole collection
  • Generally a museum visitor spends about second seconds in front of any piece of artwork.
  • Type “SFMOMA” into a search engine and it will generate more than 2,400,000 results. If you were to spend seven seconds with each search result it would take 194.1 days to get through them all.

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