How can the museum be enlightened by those who are not presently served by it?
Look at Art. Get Paid is a socially engaged artwork that pays people who don’t go to art museums to visit one as guest critics. Art is often lauded as a universal tool for creative expression and political change and yet, dominant art institutions largely serve the elite. This artist-run project brings new energy and accountability to conversations about equity in art institutions by investing in the expertise of people who haven’t been served by them. By compensating guest critics with cash payment, we call out the labor involved in visiting a predominantly white and affluent space.
As artists, we exercise our bureaucratic fluency to redirect resources out of the institution and advocate for structural change. Using artistic intervention, we aim to work in tandem with community organizing and policy reform.
All sessions are currently closed, but we have big plans underway. Sign up for our mailing list below!
How does the program work?
We completed our pilot program at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI in November 2016.
We posted an advertisement in Rhode Island's public buses.
We received over 200 inquiries and narrowed it down to 41 participants, prioritizing people who had never been to a museum and people of color. We used the common and legible format of a research study to reach the public.
We conducted 30 minute phone interviews with participants and invited them to the museum.
Phone interviews focused on the participants' existing cultural engagements and their relationship to art and museums. We also used this time to clarify our position and intentions—we were not employees of the museum and wanted to hear honest opinions.
We hosted a brief orientation and defined the job of the 'guest critic.'
We provided snacks and refreshments upon arrival. We assigned participants the role of the guest critic, a title that typically refers to visiting experts paid to critique art in an academic setting. Our handbook offered ways to structure the visit and permission to interpret. Download the handbook here.
Guest critics had 2 hours to explore the museum's galleries.
We encouraged guest critics to pay attention to their senses: sight, sound, smell, and touch. They observed the art, architecture, social codes, visitors, staff, security, signage, and more.
Some guest critics took notes.
We provided note paper and optional written activities, inviting the guest critics to re-write a museum label and draw a blind contour of an artwork.
After two hours exploring the galleries, the guest critics discussed their findings.
We facilitated a one-hour open conversation about the museum—its art collection, space, protocol, and relationship to the public.
Guest critics were paid $75 in cash at the end of their visit.
They were paid $15 an hour—above living wage in Providence, RI—for 5 hours of work. This included a 30-minute pre-visit phone interview, a 1-hour orientation, 2-hours looking at art, 1-hour discussion and critique, and a final 30-minute post-visit phone interview.
We presented the feedback of the guest critics at an all-staff dialogue at the RISD Museum.
We showed a video featuring the guest critics, followed by a conversation amongst museum staff.
Staff have reported that LAAGP has created more urgency to drive accessibility initiatives.
For example, in May 2018 the RISD Museum published multilingual guides in Spanish, Chinese, Korean.
Interested? We want to work with you!
Call for institutions, funders, collaborators
Can you host the program? We can adapt LAAGP to particular contexts.
Can you host a talk, workshop, or residency?
Can you fund our program?
We’re looking for artists, activists, organizers, and cultural workers to align with and collaborate.