Calling all photographers: Museums (and Wikipedia) want to recruit you!

"Henry VIII," Hiroshi Sugimoto (Season 3)
“Henry VIII,” Hiroshi Sugimoto (Season 3)

February may very well be the unofficial month of the photography contest.

Earlier this week, Joe Fusaro wrote about art contests in the classroom, and his thoughts hold true outside of the classroom, as well. Contests can be a chance not just for students, but for anyone “to get inspired by art.” With the Brooklyn Museum-initiated “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “It’s Time We Met” contest, there is plenty to keep photographers busy this month and to be inspired by art.

Here’s a rundown of what’s going on:

"Shot With Index" (from Wikipedia Loves Art-Brooklyn Museum rules)
“Shot With Index” (from Wikipedia Loves Art-Brooklyn Museum rules)

Wikipedia Loves Art (You, “The Object Photographer”)
The concept here is simple: submit photos through Flickr to help illustrate articles on Wikipedia. Coordinated by the Brooklyn Museum, and with participation from 14 other institutions, the Wikipedia Loves Art contest takes the form of a photo scavenger hunt. Prizes include memberships, admission passes, curator-led gallery tours, and even an iPod touch!

Yes, Wikipedia, the participating institutions, and the winning teams all benefit by the time the contest is over, but they aren’t the only ones. Participating photographers walk away from the experience with a different perspective on subject matter both new and familiar. The contest’s goal lists are largely theme based, so it is completely up to the participants to determine how to best illustrate these themes—it is an opportunity for participants to discover art and to interpret themes in a personal and creative way. In the end, though, the Wikipedia audience benefits the most. With new content added to thousands of general-knowledge articles across Wikipedia, the long-standing mission of expanding art awareness to larger audiences reaches a new level.

The event takes place throughout the month of February. Read more at Wikipedia, or register online at the Brooklyn Museum site. Open meetups are scheduled at the Met tonight, and at the Brooklyn Museum tomorrow.

"Rivers Burn Then Run Backwards," Thomas Hawk via Flickr
“Rivers Burn Then Run Backwards,” Thomas Hawk via Flickr

“It’s Time We Met” (You, “The Marketing Photographer”)
While you’re running around the Met galleries (or the Cloisters) checking off items from the Wikipedia Loves Art goal list, why not switch gears and participate in the Met’s other photo contest, tied to a marketing campaign titled “It’s Time We Met” (another play on “met,” more amusing when it isn’t used by the Met). The goal of this contest is to find photography that depicts “how you, the visitor, have shared your Museum experience with friends and family.” The winning photograph will be used in the Met’s “It’s Time We Met” advertising campaign, and the Museum pays the winner what is essentially a one-time licensing fee of $250 and a one-year “Met Net” membership.

The contest is less an opportunity for learning about art and more an opportunity to connect with art. We all respond to art in different ways, and the focus here is placed on the visitor, not just the art; it is inspiration in the form capturing and sharing a reaction to art.

The event takes place from February 15 through March 7, 2009. Read more about the contest at the Met’s Flickr group page.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to Art21's "Art 2.1" column.
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