Yarnbombing and Museums
I started yarnbombing 10 months ago, knitting long complicated colorful strips and sewing them onto poles all around Berkeley, Calif. I put them up in front of places that I loved, gardens, shopping districts, restaurants and mostly, really, bakeries. I basically made a map of my life in yarnbombing, putting up more than 60 yarn bombs. Inevitably my mind turned to museums, as a favorite place to go and as an interesting place to provoke a discussion. I see the yarnbombing as art and I wondered how a museum might respond. My assistant, “The Russian,” and I yarnbombed SFMOMA, the De Young Museum, the Cantor Art Center in Palo Alto, Museum of Art And History in Santa Cruz, San Jose Museum of Art, Musee D'orsay in Paris and the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. Many of these installations included several knitted pieces. We often put the pieces up at night or when the museums were closed to avoid the security guards. This work is not permitted and I would imagine is a bit of a surprise the next morning.
How the Museums Responded
- San Jose Museum of Art: No response. I'm not sure if the piece even stayed up.
- SFMOMA: I posted this on their Facebook page and received an enthusiastic response from their administer. This installation is still up and was photographed profusely by passersby.
- De Young Museum: We put up 3 pieces and the park service took down 2 of them immediately. One piece stayed up and various people wrote to us or blogged about it. No comment from The De young. I don't think they noticed it was there.
- Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History: This one was daring because I put it on their property which I usually avoid as rude and pushy. The Museum didn't respond, but they left it up and many visitors to the museum have sent me pictures or blogged about it.
- Musee D'Orsay in Paris: This piece was all the way across the street but it stayed up for months and the school children seemed to like it. Lots of blogging about it by Paris visitors.
- Cantor Center Of Art: Kristin Olson of their tech office sent me a great e-mail thanking me, posted the piece on their Facebook page, and tweeted it. The piece is still up.
- Crocker Museum Of Art: Posted the piece on Facebook, tweeted it, called the newspaper and had an article written, blogged about it and used it in their advertising for their knitting classes. This was shocking to me and thrilling. We went back and added another piece.
What Does This Mean For Museums?
We are all using Facebook and Twitter more and more for quick smaller communication and blogging for longer personal developments. My sense is that museums who detailed the yarnbombing had a lot of interest and enthusiasm from it. I also think the pieces are pretty good, they photograph well and I make an effort to relate them to the museum and it's collection. Street art varies in quality as does all art.
Where Does Art Go? Who gets to make it?
Watch out: You might be yarnbombed soon!