Send me a masterpiece: the museum texting its artworks to anyone who asks

By Dale Berning Sawa

Fancy a Lichtenstein? How about a Warhol? San Francisco’s MoMA will now send you anything from its collection – all you have to do is ask the artbot

If you fancy receiving an artwork from a world-class gallery, all you now have to do is ask. Liberating itself from the confines of physical space, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has launched a service that has already gone viral. You simply take out your phone and text it a request, keying in “Send me” followed by a descriptive word or an emoji. Send me mountains. Send me sadness. Send me something orange. It will text back an image selected from one of the 34,678 artworks in its vaults.

SFMOMA was aiming for 100,000 texts over the summer. On Monday last week, it clocked up 385,000. By the end of the week, it had passed 2m. Browse through some of the exchanges and you quickly see the potential. It’s beautifully simple – and consistently surprising. “Send me a Warhol” won’t get you a Warhol: the artbot doesn’t search by artist, nor by title. Asking for Kardashians won’t get you anything, either. But if a match can’t be found, texters don’t emerge empty-handed. Suggestions will be given instead. Maybe try “Send me the ocean” or “Send me San Francisco”.

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