Give a Flower, Share Your Experience

As Eugenie noted in her post, The Moving Garden is installed in our Rubin Pavilion and the artist invites the visitor to take a flower from the installation on the condition that the person takes a detour on the way to their next stop in order to give that flower to a stranger.

Lee Mingwei

In The Moving Garden, Lee Mingwei asks visitors who take a flower to give it to a stranger.

One of the great things about working with living artists is the chance to work with them when they bring projects into the building. When I first heard about this piece, I was struck by what could happen between strangers in the exchange, so Eugenie and I asked the artist if he would let us create something that would allow visitors to document their gift giving.  He felt that the mystery of giving the gift was central to the piece, but he was also curious about exchanges and thought we could try it as long as we made it clear that the documentation was an optional step in the process, not a requirement to take part.

Stranger with flower

I gave my flower to a stranger at the corner of Washington Ave and Lincoln Place. It was an experience I'm not likely to forget.

With that, #mygardengift was born.  It’s a simple interactive that we hope extends the life of the project outside our walls.  Visitors are invited to document their exchanges by tagging on Flickr, Twitter and  In addition, for the first time, we are using SMS text messaging in an interactive.  Visitors can text us about the exchange and we use the Twilio API to map their responses and bring them into the interactive. There’s a page on the website that shows all the responses and we also use an iPad to display the exchanges in the gallery.

This is really the kind of project that we want to be using social media for—working directly with an artist to show a community’s experience around a work. Given the four platforms that we are using, I’m curious to see which ones get used the most and how the information coming to us may differ on each.  Mostly, though, I’m excited to see our community participate and to watch the mystery unfold in some of the exchanges and I can’t wait to talk to the artist to see his own response to this part of the project as it grows.

If you come to Lee Mingwei: “The Moving Garden”, take a flower and then use #mygardengift to document your exchange.