Telling stories through a "QR Code" SFMOMA Young Curator Members: Mitchie Zeng, Meitiing Li, Vicky Yu, Jiaqian Luo, Ken Li

Exhibition Purpose

After visiting SFMOMA and doing research on different artworks and the artists behind it, we want to create an exhibition that can tell his-story, her-story, our-story, and most importantly the people’s-story. We will select artworks from different SFMOMA collections. The artworks we selected are mostly documentary photographs from different times and different places. The events captured on these photographs reflect what people at the time felt and suffered in their lives. The re-curation of the original artwork will help explain how these events narrate our “stories” and shape today’s society. This exhibition will also be a new space for visitors to learn more detail about the artwork with a new method of using QR codes. Furthermore, the purpose of this exhibition is to use our current technology to unite with artwork of the past.

3-D Model
“Refugees in tent city” by Arnold Genthe

This photograph was taken in 1906 during San Francisco Earthquake. The main purpose of Arnold Genthe to record this kind of the photographs was to “see the results of the earthquake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people”. This photograph printed by silver gelatin. From our visual view, we could see there were some tents elders, men, women children and some clothes were hanging on the rope. The place they lived was rough, and the people were emotionless in the photograph. It was black and white which form a historical and more real to the audiences. This picture took a one point angle shot. From left the right and the color contrast, the photograph had shown the poor conditions of the camps that people lived during 1906’s earthquake.This photograph was one of the representations of the 1906 historical event.

Research By Yingying Yu

This untitled photograph was taken by Arnold Genthe. He was a famous photographer during the early 90s. This photograph printed by glass lantern slide. From our visual view, we can see the earthquake caused heavy damage to the buildings, demolished nearby cars and scattered body parts across the streets. The condition of the place was ruined. It made people feel kind of lonely and sad since there was no one in the street. The photograph was black and white which form a historical and more real to the audiences. This picture took a one point angle shot. From the color contrast, the photograph had given a deep impression on the audiences.

Research By Yingying Yu

Crash of the Hindenburg by Murray Becker

This art piece on the top is from the artist Murray Becker. The art piece is called Crash of the Hindenburg and she created this piece of art in 1937. The idea of the art piece was to shows us the Crash of the Hindenburg and it is captured with a camera which it showed us this piece of art that actually happened in our history. His picture was being portrayed as in many terms like disasters, death, destruction, aircraft, fire, explosions, and an accident. Also, this picture was about the incident of Crash of the Hindenburg in Germany and this aircraft was called the Airship LZ 129 Hindenburg. What happened was the Aircraft tries to evade from the Mooring Mast, but unfortunately the body part of the LZ 129 Hindenburg got caught and the incident happened.

Research By Ken Li

Tiananmen Square, Beijing by Mr. Leong Sze Tsung

Mr. Leong took this picture in 2002. The picture was created from China, in Beijing. The connection to our historical conditions is definitely connected to the history from this picture. If you ask teenagers or even anyone in China about Tiananmen Square. Without any doubt, they could make the connection to the history. Because the incident of Tiananmen Square affected basically every single person in China which refer to June Fourth Incident (六四事件) and 89 Democracy Movement (八九民运). The protest was led by college students and their goal was a government without corruption, democratic reforms, freedom of speech and freedom of media. Unfortunately, the government stopped the protest by sending military with rifles and tanks to get rid of those people who were blocking of the military’s advance. According to and estimated by the Chinese Red Cross there were nearly 2,600 civilians and 50 soldier or policemen passed away from this Massacre.

Research by Ken Li

Naoya Hatakeyama’s series Rikuzentakata

The artwork shown above is one of the photographs of Naoya Hatakeyama’s series Rikuzentakata, and he took this photo after Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami happened in 2011. His photographs mainly focus on the transformation of the landscape all over the world. And the main idea of this paper is that capture the moment can narrate the history. Tōhoku Earthquake created powerful tsunami waves that reached heights up to 133 ft. in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture and traveled up to 10 km. This picture shows a horrible disaster, Tōhoku Earthquake, destroyed the small town and turned it into a water town. The aftermath of disaster shows about 10,000 deaths and a huge number listed as missing and presumed dead. Tōhoku Earthquake made the Japanese History, it also shocked the world. The earthquake also led to the Fukushima’s biggest Nuclear Power Station’s nuclear leak, this kind of the impact makes the disaster damage becomes more serious. However, if the nuclear leak cannot be controlled, the long-term impact of Japan’s economic development cannot be underestimated. Japan's export rate affects Japanese economic system because the world doesn't trust their products' quality, especially the places near the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station. It becomes a big problem in Japan.

Research by Meiting Li

Atomic Tests in Nevada by Atomic Energy Commission

In this artwork, it seems it’s just a simple explosion on the water, but there’s a story behind it. Because this photograph was taken in the time period of “cold war”, one of the important historical events in the US history. The US was having a conflict with the Soviet Union, but they both didn’t go forward to each other, and they stuck in a silent situation. Therefore, this artwork was a show off from United State toward the Soviet Union; the explosion represented the advanced weapon and power that the US had, and they wanted to threaten the Soviet Union and win without any real war. Although disaster was caused by nature, it might almost be caused by the human indirectly. After human create damage on the sea, the sea wave (nature) would always rush toward us (land), and cause serious damage back; which meant whatever we do to nature would always paying back what we have done. Therefore, whenever human beg nature for surviving, nature became a threat more than a savior to humans. Similarly, although the explosion was human made and not hurting anyone in that time, the chemical and radiation of the explosion would spread all around the places by winds and air pressures, thus caused disease and cancer disaster toward creatures.

Research by Jiaqian Luo

Untitled by Takashi Arai

The artwork shown above is a photograph was taken by Takashi Arai. he create this photo by using daguerreotype. Daguerreotype is a classic method to reproduce photograph, it’s an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor. His photo shown above is the piano bombed and exposed to the Radiation in the Atomic Bombing on Hiroshima in 1945. In August 6 , 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb - known as “Little Boy”-on the Japanese city, Hiroshima, it destroyed five square miles of the city and killed many people. This event had marked down in Japan’s history as a serious issue.

Research by Meiting Li

Looking up Market street toward Twin peak by Arnold Gentle

This artwork was a representation of the earthquake of San Francisco in 1906; the broken railroad tracks, broken glass on the tall buildings, heavy dust on the street, and the falling rubbles from the building were all representing the extremely damage from the Earthquake, and cause an environment of hopeless and lifeless. However, on the two long linear perspective of the broken railroad track, there were people wearing working clothes and carrying heavy bucket, which created a meaning that despite they were surrounded by piles of dirty obstacles and messy problems, the community didn’t give up by the hitting of the Earthquake, and people could raise themselves up, create hope and still continuing to walk and fix their damaged life or environment. Similarly, in the middle of the artwork, there was a couple walking with nice skirt and suit; although it’s completely opposite to the atmosphere of the damaged surrounding background, they look so positive and confident to face the ruined streets and buildings, which meant even people were living in this messy condition, there was nothing could stop their self-identities, goals, and beliefs, so they were able to win human’s biggest enemy (themselves) in this critical environment.

Research by Jiaqian Luo

Bloomfield, N.Y. by Paul Caponigro

Paul Caponigro is an American photographer born in Boston December 7, 1932. His photographs are mainly landscape and still life. And this artwork is one of his landscape photograph. It is surprising that this piece is a photograph instead of painting. In Current days, it is very difficult to take photographs similar to this one. The strong contrast between the black and the white created a feeling of mystery. The rich black also creates a frame within the frame for the white in the middle. In this photograph, there aren’t any straight lines if we only look at the big picture. The edge of the rich black part of the photograph created the feeling of you are looking out from a tree hole. This photograph also doesn’t demonstrate a sense of reality. It doesn’t look realistic for a representation of a town in 1957. We expect to see more modern buildings than tall wooden buildings since the date. However, this can also be interpreted as a corrupted city because the photograph itself looks like a representation of an abandoned city.

Research by Minying Zeng

Five Cents a Spot by Jacob August Riis

The artwork titled Lodgers in a Crowded Bayard Street Tenement--"Five Cents a Spot" (as shown above) and the artist, Jacob August Riis. This piece is a black and white photograph printed in 1946 as a gelatin silver print. The photograph was taken in 1889. The artist of this piece, Jacob August Riis, was a Danish-American who was born in the mid 1800s in Denmark. He immigrated to America in 1870 and lived the rest of his life in the U.S. He was a social reformer who used journalism and documentary photographs to reflect the life in New York in his time. The photograph above is one of the photographs represents people who paid “five cents”, according to the title, for a place to stay.

As we take a closer look at the photograph, the details on the wall shows that this place is not as clean as we expected. People in this photograph are either lying down or sitting. They might be sleeping or they might just have their eyes closed. The room is crowded and at the corner of the room, we can see that the “bed” was not designed and installed to be used as a bed. It looks more like the owner of the room just added some wood and attached them to the wall so that there was more room or “space” to rent. This photograph is a representation of how poor people suffered from life at that time.

Research by Minying Zeng


One of the main problem is that visitors feel disconnected from the artwork. We will have a new way for visitors to share their understanding of the art pieces and learn from a different point of view to have a better and connected understanding of each artwork. Another objective of our exhibition is to offer the visitors more specific information and details about the artists.

Some museum visitors may not be able to interpret the content of the artwork, our exhibition aims to guide the visitors to a more meaningful understanding. The technology of QR code will provide more information and allow a deeper interaction. Therefore, the visitors can understand the background story of the artwork and it helps them to empathize with the artist’s intentions. It also enables them to easily connect with their own experiences and stories.



Our prototype is the QR code. We want to install the scanning feature in the SFMOMA app, so visitors can scan the QR codes that accompany with the artworks with the SFMOMA app. To accomplish this, we will collaborate with SFMOMA to create unique QR code designs for each individual artwork or collections. The QR codes can provide the important information about the art piece. It may have special features that allow visitors to interact with each other by providing a comment section for the artwork. Additionally, visitors could learn the history of the artwork. The code will link to a webpage where SFMOMA provides basic informational links to references about both the artist and the events in more detail.

Promotional Role

The promotional role for our exhibition is to use multimedia. Our goal for the promotion is to maximize the population that the advertisements can reach. Nowadays, people interact with the internet more than they interact with people. We propose using different types of media to promote our exhibition. First, we will send out emails to subscribers of the SFMOMA newsletters to update them on the exhibition. Secondly, we want to put advertisements on MUNI buses and BART. When they post on public transportation or around the city, the commercials on the buses and trains can maximize the exposure of our promotions. The commercial becomes alive to people.

Media Mentions

Our goal is to increase tourist visits, especially from China. There is a geographical advantage for SFMOMA. The increase of visitors among the tourist is free advertisement for our exhibition globally. The traditional way of spreading news and ideas is through people to people. In consideration of the huge number of Chinese tourists, we will also want to ask sponsorship from Chinese tech companies, such as Tencent. Tencent has a huge number of users on their websites and mobile applications, such as WeChat. This is where we got the idea of using QR codes as the link to the artworks for more detailed information.


Our target population are visitors who can not relate to the artworks from their own experiences and perspectives. Through this exhibition, we hope that this group of people will continue to visit SFMOMA and learn about the artworks through the use of our detailed database and opened comment spaces. Tourists are also another target population for our exhibition. Due to the large population of Chinese visitors to SFMOMA, we will use QR code as a way to connect with their mobile devices. The QR codes may be more familiar to the Chinese tourists, however, we also want to reintroduce the QR code as an artistic and educational way to our visiting population. We hope that our Chinese tourists will gain great experiences in SFMOMA as well as in San Francisco.


People who would like to sponsor and support our product would be companies like Tencent. For example, WeChat is a viable company because the app already has the QR code feature installed. This allows the users of WeChat to easily pull out their phone and scan the QR code for the information on the artwork. Overall, we want to have a win-win situation for the sponsors and our exhibition. This will be a great opportunity for these companies and artists to expose their technologies and artwork. Therefore, similar tech companies will be willing and able to sponsor us in the future.

Visual Walk Through Made With Cinema 4-D

All researched Photographs were from SFMOMA and SFMOMA ArtScope.


Created By

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.