Fun With Numbers: “Sharing a Journey,” QR codes, and Blog Statistics

The opening exhibition at the Postal Plaza, a survey of the permanent collection entitled, “Sharing a Journey: Building the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art Collection,” included links to this blog, in the form of QR codes (those little square barcodes) on 33 of the objects in the exhibition. As you know if you read this blog regularly, most of the posts are written by OSU students, and some are written by museum staff. A few feature donors to the collection. Not all of the QR codes linked to writing about the specific object they were placed next to; there were also posts containing contextual information about the donor, discussions of other work in the collection by the same artist, a story from a staff person about working with the artist or object, etc.

The QR codes were a way to introduce multiple voices into an exhibition that was intended to celebrate all the ways in which the creation, growth, and development of the collection and the museum was the work of many different community members. They also celebrated the amount of work that had been done with the collection before the Postal Plaza Gallery had even opened. To be honest, they were also an experiment in curatorial pedagogy—we wanted to reduce the amount of text on view, allowing people to focus on the artworks that the museum celebrates, without taking away too much information.

An anonymous comment from the visitor book at "Sharing a Journey," which reads, "Thank you for the variety and beauty of this collection & for the expanded information offered by the technology."

An anonymous comment from the visitor book at “Sharing a Journey,” which reads, “Thank you for the variety and beauty of this collection & for the expanded information offered by the technology.”

WordPress, the host of this blog, compiles statistics on a daily basis about which posts visitors to the blog look at, how many posts they look at in a single visit, and how visitors arrived at the site. It occurred to me early on in the exhibition that we could learn something about our visitors (at least, the tech-savvy subset who used the QR codes) from those statistics. And while I in no way intend to make scientific claims for the numbers that follow, it is interesting to discover that in raw terms:

  • 6,148 posts were viewed from January through May, the run of “Sharing a Journey” — an average of 41 per day.
  • Those views came from 3,427 visitors, which means that each visitor looked at about two posts each.

…So which artworks were the most popular?

The 33 objects with QR codes were with a briefcase from Senegal, a chiwara, a Lakota pipe bag, a Tang Dynasty ceramic horse and rider, and works by Norman Akers, Beth Grabowski, Thomas Hart Benton, Margot Holt Bostick, Imogen Cunningham, Salvador Dalí, Ella Jack, Richard Goetz, Ben Harjo, Alexandre Hogue, Alfred Hutty, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Oscar Jacobson, John Taylor Arms, Gene Kloss, Edwin Hale Lincoln, George Luks, Doel Reed, Dale McKinney, Susan Stewart-Medicine Horse, William Sommer, Raphael Soyer, Willard Stone, James Swann, Victor Vasarely, J. Jay McVicker, Karl Umlauf, and Maxine Warren.

Like our collection, the QR codes are predominantly focused on American and Native American artworks — but I was impressed to see that the most popular links were not all from objects in those categories.

All of the links were scanned at some point by visitors to the exhibition, which suggests the diversity of their curiosity.

The top ten were:

  • Victor Vasarely, Test Tarka, 1990.
    • Note: this link goes to a newer post than was linked in the exhibition.
  • Anonymous (Lakota), Pipe Bag, 19th century

“Sharing a Journey” closed on May 24, but the museum’s permanent collection remains accessible through the study center at the Postal Plaza Gallery. And this blog will continue to showcase student writing about the collection — this fall, I am looking forward to using our outstanding collection of works on paper in my History of American Art course, and I hope to see some of my students’ work appear here.




About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
This entry was posted in permanent collection, staff curating, staff research, staff writing, student curating, student research, student writing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Fun With Numbers: “Sharing a Journey,” QR codes, and Blog Statistics

  1. So excited to see my favorite, Red Elk Dog, made it to the top of the list!

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