There are only two days left in the LSU Museum of Art’s Kickstarter campaign to bring Paris to Baton Rouge.
That’s how museum curator Katie Pfohl sums up the exhibit, “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910,” set to open on Sept. 5.
“Paris is the capitol of France, and Baton Rouge is the capitol of Louisiana,” she says. “Look at what art has done for Paris. Through this campaign, we want to give the community a chance to be involved, and maybe in the end, art can do the same thing for Baton Rouge.”
The museum mounted the campaign through its Friends of the LSU Museum of Art support group. This is the second time the museum has raised money through Kickstarter, the first being a $2,000 campaign last fall for New Orleans artist Silas Breaux’s installment, “Dwelling,” as part of the Baton Rouge extension of New Orleans’ Prospect.3 biennial of contemporary art.
“Not very many museums have done it,” Pfohl says. “I’ve seen some arts organizations do this, but I think we’re one of the first museums in Louisiana to do it, if not the first.”
Kickstarter, or kickstarter.com, is an internet-based crowd funding company. Through it, a project creator chooses a minimum funding goal, then sets a deadline. If the goal is not met, the entity gets no money. The goal of the Friends of the LSU Museum of Art is to raise $15,000 by Tuesday, Jan. 13. So far, close to $4,000 has been raised. Those who pledge $20 or more will receive an invitation to the exhibit reception. For $50, you get the reception invitation and your name will appear on the wall of exhibition supporters. A $250 or more donation brings the invitation, name recognition and an opportunity to tour the exhibit with the museum’s curator.
Along with all that, those donating $1,000 or more will have their names on the main exhibition title, in weekly e-blasts, the museum’s quarterly printed newsletter, “ArtTalk” and on the museum’s website.
“We started in November and set a two-month goal,” Pfohl says. “It’s discouraging, but it’s also understandable, because we were trying to do this during the holidays when people are trying to finish their Christmas shopping.”
Still, Pfohl made her own donation as a Christmas gift to the museum. “I’ve just finished graduate school, so I don’t have a lot of money,” she says. “And a $50 donation for me could pay for other things. But I knew I could donate $50, and it felt good to make this donation, as well as a few donations to other group’s campaigns at Christmas. It was my gift to them.”
If the goal is not reached, the exhibit, which will cost almost $100,000, will still go on. The bulk of the money has been raised through private donations and corporate sponsorships.
“We decided to use Kickstarter to give the community a chance to have a part in bringing this ambitious exhibit here so the museum can move to the next level,” Pfohl says. “Not everyone has the money to take out a sponsorship, but they can donate a little bit of money along the way. Five dollars and $10 can add up, and in doing that, they’ve had a part in funding this exhibition.”
Pfohl calls “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910” the museum’s most ambitious exhibition. The show not only features Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s original lithographs created for the Moulon Rouge, but also more than 185 artworks by some of France’s most noted artists, most of which have never been shown in Baton Rouge.
“This is the first exhibit to present this vision of Paris art,” Pfohl says. “It shows the effect artistic experimentation had on Paris’ cultural innovation during this period, and it shows how this inspiring vision can enliven and animate a city by celebrating art as a force at the center of urban renewal and social change.”
Pfohl says more museums may consider alternative forms of fundraising, such as Kickstarter, in the future.
“As we move into the future, museums are going to start looking at new ways of raising money,” Pfohl says. “We’ve already started with this campaign. Now we’re hoping to make our deadline.”
For more information, visit kickstarter.com/projects/158115638/bring-paris-to-baton-rouge.