Drawing Inspiration from Gutai: Encouraging Collaboration Inside and Outside the Museum


Maria Slusarev, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, USA

“Visitors to art exhibitions typically expect to be dazzled by the creativity of others. The Gutai group reminds us of the importance of creativity and freedom in our own lives.”
–Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

This lightning talk will highlight project goals, challenges, and take-aways learned in the development of a participatory website, including:

•Generating enthusiasm for a project and collaborating with internal teams
•Establishing goals and laying the groundwork for measuring results
•Challenges in adapting a physical artwork concept to an online experience
•Engaging with audiences to increase participation
•Surprising discoveries (good & bad!) and lessons learned

In support of the exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum February 15–May 8, 2013, the Interactive department created a participatory drawing website inspired by Gutai Art Association founder Yoshihara Jirō’s famous work Please Draw Freely. The Gutai group encouraged their audience to engage directly with their artwork, a radical concept that was meant to challenge the very notion of “what is art?”

The main goal of the website was to educate audiences about the exhibition and the Gutai Art Association’s exploration of “new art forms combining performance, painting, and interactive environments“ in a playful way that matched the spirit of the group’s work. Creating an interactive drawing tool allowed users collaborate and make art together. The website also aimed to extend the reach of the physical Please Draw Freely installation and to build relationships with online communities through integrated sharing features and direct engagement with the audience.

The team aims to inspire industry colleagues to experiment with participatory sites that create new ways to engage audiences as well as to provide a look at the steps that lead to successful collaboration across departments within a museum.