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Your Facebook profile pic, shown in the Louvre

The National Portrait Gallery isn't just for paintings of duchesses and emperors anymore. If a couple of creative entrepreneurs have their way, it'll soon display countless Facebook mugs too.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read
Museum-bound: Some of the many Facebook portraits submitted to the collaborative art project so far. The Profile Picture Exhibition

Seeking to modernize the staid "Baron Von Sitting Down" and "Madame Miss No Emotion" portrait genre of yore, a couple of London creatives have launched an initiative to get as many Facebook profile pics as possible into the world's leading museums.

"Each one of our profile pics is a statement about who we are," says the video for The Profile Picture Exhibition project, which I won't embed here due to its generous use of a word that starts with the same letter as Facebook does. "It's finally time we claimed our space in art history."

This isn't a contest for the best Facebook profile photo. Rather, say Ben Beale and Rory Forrest, the duo behind the effort, it's about democratizing portraiture, which once was mainly the purview of wealthy noblemen who wanted to secure their place in history.

There won't be any long portrait sessions to sit through here. If you "Like" the project's Facebook page, your profile picture could automatically show up in London's National Portrait Gallery, the Louvre in Paris, and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"The thing that hit us the most was that over 1 billion of us have Facebook profile pictures now, a seventh of the entire globe, and if our profile pics can be considered art, the profile picture phenomenon has to be the biggest art movement of all time," Beale told Crave. "A truly humbling thought."

The museums have agreed to display the portraits once a million members have joined the collaboration. More than a thousand people from around the world have Liked the page so far, with submissions ranging from serious looking-into-the-camera shots to more, well, cheeky images. That's right, Mona Lisa, get ready to share your space with naked butts.

The Profile Picture Exhibition

Update, 5:30 p.m. PT: to include a comment from project co-creator Ben Beale.