Open-Source Museum Opens in Second Life

A modified Manet's Olympia at the OSMOSA open-source museum in Second Life, beforeA group of students from Brown University have launched an open-source museum in the virtual world of Second Life. Known as OSMOSA, the Open-Source Museum of Open-Source Art, the museum is located »in Second Life’s Eson region« and features a mess of artworks that anyone can copy, modify, alter or otherwise contribute to. The museum itself is open to alteration as well, which is a fantastic idea. The modding got under way at the opening party Tuesday night: an already-altered image of Manet’s Olympia (with space helmets added to make it more excellent) came out the other end of the night with some interesting additions and adjustments, as seen below:

A modified Manet's Olympia at the OSMOSA open-source museum in Second Life, after

I dig this project. You can read more at OSMOSA’s wiki page, but basically, according to one of the students, “By “open source,” we mean that OSMOSA is in the public domain: visitors can add, modify, and remove art from the
museum. In addition, the OSMOSA building is also open source, in that anyone can modify, add to, or delete parts of the structure.” Love it.

The museum was organized by Deborah Abramson, Kiera Feldman, and Davis Jung (aka Deborah Maertens, Koco Furse, and Jinsaedavis Jun in Second Life, respectively), and built out with help from SL residents Kenny Hubble, Soupcan Tomsen, and “the Loyalist College Team.”

As a living art-structure, OSMOSA could be very cool. One thing the project is lacking at the moment, though, is a good way to record the changes going on there. I’m waiting at the very least for an OSMOSA blog, or perhaps a Flickr set where the OSMOSAns could record the evolution of the site. Regardless, I think it’s a great idea, and I look forward to seeing what comes out of it. I’m not saying an open-source museum is any better or worse a way to produce art, I’m just interested in watching things bubble.


  1. Deborah

    Thanks for the great coverage of OSMOSA! You can find the FLICKR account at, although I think we’re going to move to a blog format soon.

    We’re also working on several archive and documentation strategies. Please stop by and make some changes to the museum!


  2. Prokofy Neva

    I realize you see this as a “mash-up” but I’d call it art vandalism. Someonw, Manet’s painting has gotten into the public domain, and that means it is open to this sort of ‘mash-up’, yet it’s hardly what Manet would have wanted.

  3. Kiera Feldman

    Thanks for your comment, Prokofy. Could you explain why it is important to consider “what Manet would have wanted”?

    An idea I’d like to put on the table is that of “transformation” (a word we use a lot in our class). The idea is that all culture should be in the public domain–that anyone should be able to transform or reconfigure whatever they like. Manet’s Olympia still exists; the picture seen in this post is not Manet’s piece but rather Deborah’s piece.

    …Then of course there’s the question of who is the author after Deborah’s piece has been altered by multiple people in Second Life… :)

  4. Prokofy Neva

    I believe in the integrity of the artist’s vision. That has always been important, throughout the ages, the integrity of the artist’s vision, and the piece itself. Of course now we have the barbarians at the gates. I don’t buy that in the name of “creativity” and “public domain culture” (somebody ALWAY S has to pay!) we need to destroy that or bless it as art. The viewer can interact with that vision in a multiplicity of ways without deconstruction and destruction.

    Deborah can make her own picture, without vandalizing one of the great masters.

    Is there a reason why she can’t do that?

  5. Prokofy Neva

    BTW, long before all you were born, there were mash-ups called “collages” or “conceptual art”. I actually have a piece like that hanging in my home of a classical work that is collaged and mashed by some famous conceptual artists. But the mash-up stops there, and the context remains. Starting a chain of vandalism, well, it’s just starting a chain of vandalism.

  6. roger malina


    i spent a little time in the museum= intriguing= but it
    upsets me that in this brand new open second life we replicate
    the architectural metaphors/look/feel of buildings in physical space=
    surely there are new kinds of architectural concepts ? we have
    different needs in second life=why doesnt the “designed’ environment
    reflect these new needs rather than those of physical space

    and do we really want museums and galleries in second life ? these
    were designed to respond to the needs of societies in physical space=
    dont societies in second life have other ways of sharing creative
    work than within the concept of a “museum” or ‘gallery”

    its time for a revolution in second life !! the old world is
    imposing its social and physical ideas on the new world

    and instead mashing manet why not mash living organisms in a way
    that they are tranformed into new viable life forms in second life


  7. Kiera Feldman

    Hi Roger,

    You wrote, “Surely there are new kinds of architectural concepts?” I hope so too! I see the current OSMOSA structure as merely a jumping off point. Remember, anyone can remodel…


  8. Theory Shaw

    Similar to this experiment, ‘RL Architects in SL’ is conducting a Wikitecture experiment in Second Life to determine just how feasible a collaborative approach in design might be for the architectural profession. You do not have to have any experience in Architecture or building to participate. We actually believe the more diverse the pool of contributors, the better. Whether you contribute to the design of the building or offer suggestions on how to improve the process of open-design, we welcome any contributions you may have; no matter how big or small. The program and protocol for the experiment can be found here:
    Location of evolving design in SL:

  9. Theory Shaw

    It appears that most of the prims at the OSMOSA site cannot be deleted. Was it intended that contributors to the project could only modify and/or move and not delete? If OSMOSA intends to allow contributors to delete parts of the building/art, how do you plan on going about that? I ask, because ‘RL architects in SL’ is conducting a similar experiment – a wiki approach to architecture. In our experiment, the contributor, in addition to giving full mod-rights, has to set his/her prims to the ‘RL architects in SL’ group. In this manner, when the prims are set to a group, a fellow contributor can delete them if they are in they too are in the same group. Obviously, allowing anyone to delete any aspect of the project potentially exposes the project to rogue griefers – deleting willy-nilly. To safeguard against such a situation, through our experiment, we have located an ‘Archiving Kiosk’ on site for contributors to archive their work. We have found, however, that in order to ‘take [a] copy’ of the entire project all at once into your inventory, all the prims/objects throughout the project need to have all the permissions turned on accordingly. If there are a few straggling prims without these permissions, SL will not allow you to ‘take [a] copy’ of all the prims at once. You have to shift through all the prims looking for the ones that don’t have the correct permissions – making it quite painful at times. Anyways, I just wanted to pass along some of the knowledge we have gleaned from our experiment so far. I wish you luck, and would love to discuss how we can further refine this process of open-design in SL. I believe it has a lot of potential for both art and architecture. Theory Shaw.

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  12. Kiera Feldman

    This discussion has been great. I’d like to invite everyone to continue it on the new OSMOSA blog–

    The OSMOSA blog is an effort to collaboratively construct the museum’s history and change over time. It is also “open source” in the sense that anyone can post–the login and password are listed on the first entry.

    Kiera Feldman

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  15. cube3


    proof that all humans can make a dump.

    adds only the awareness that “open source” as a term has been hijaaked, and that the ‘im a winner because it showed up” mentality in education and culture today has rubbed off on its students and its next generation.

    good for them to doing, but they will learn only what they have done sadly when they wonder where the smell is coming from:)

    May be the RISD students will provide new ideas that show growth based on the past, not parlor tricks….;)

  16. cube3

    oh well.. went to look at the place.. already all gone…
    i guess no one else DUG it. Maybe they deleted the whole thing.