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Send a Text to SFMOMA and They’ll Text You Back an Artwork

You can explore SFMOMA’s collection now with the ease of a text, though you don’t always know what you’re going to get.

Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic)

Like most museums, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art can show only a fraction of its collection at once, largely due to space constraints. In its case, only about 5% of its treasures are on view at a time. To increase accessibility to its nearly 35,000 works, the museum has a really neat tool that literally places artworks in the palm of your hand: Send Me SFMOMA, a text messaging service that sends you images of artworks in response to your personal interests.

Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool

All you have to do is send a request to the number 572-51, beginning with the words “send me” and followed by keywords, from a color to a subject, and even a mood. You may even text it an emoji, as seen in the above example, where the rainbow flag yielded Robert Arneson’s portrait of Harvey Milk. The service processes the info using the SFMOMA Collection API, and it delivers a relevant image followed by its artist, title, and date.

Launched earlier this year, the tool recently received an update to this five-digit pre-approved number; it previously ran on a 10-digit number and proved so popular that major mobile carriers apparently thought the museum was a spambot, as SFMOMA’s creative technologist Jay Mollica recounted in a blog post. The appeal is understandable, as the service is not only convenient and affordable for many (it’s free, but standard messaging rates apply) but also engages you with the collection in a way that is personal, fun, and even surprising at times.

Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool

As Mollica writes, “Send Me SFMOMA was conceived as a way to bring transparency to the collection while engendering further exploration and discussion among users.”

Like a true friend, Send Me SFMOMA always texts back, even if it can’t always deliver the goods and send you a match. But as the following results show, it responds to a wide array of demands, from those related to medium to a culture to an agenda, and much more. It will even humor your attempt to sext.

Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
Texting the SFMOMA Send Me tool
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