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The Bird Museum is Louie Zong's free collection of crowdsourced bird art

How many birds have you seen today? A handful, perhaps, bobbing around the communal garden? Maybe you live by the sea and can’t move for gulls. The Bird Museum, a free online gallery from musician and illustrator Louie Zong, opened its doors to over a thousand crowdsourced pictures, photos and sculptures of our feathered little friends this week. Grab your notepad – it’s time for some serious birdwatching.

Last September, Zong put out a Twitter call to action. Using his modest social media clout in possibly the only way one should, he convinced thousands of followers to email him rough pictures of birds for The Bird Museum – an “ever-changing selection of bad, crowdsourced bird art”.

Prospective pieces didn’t have to be good – in fact, Zong felt it better they weren’t.

Zong promptly found himself buried in an avalanche of chicken sketches, crow doodles, swan sculptures and otherwise. The final gallery is a fascinating clash of skill levels and mediums – an MS paint scrawl displayed alongside a truly well-rendered canary, while a photograph of someone’s pet chicken hangs across the way. Some show-offs even submitted 3D installations. Vaguely bird-ish forms line the museum’s entrance as a colossal goose watches from on high.

1,000 frames is a lot of wall space to fill, mind. Technically, The Bird Museum only actually holds space for 50 bespoke birds. Hit the L key and the exhibition will reset, pulling up a fresh batch of feathered friends.

If I’ve any complaint, it’s that The Bird Museum is a little heavy-handed on the post-processing effects – masking crisp bird jpegs behind layers of blur and chromatic aberration.

Zong is by far not the first to build an art gallery online. Last year, I spoke to some of the developers curating digital exhibitions in virtual space – from collaborative indie works like The Zium Museum to the similarly crowdsourced (if ironically less feathered) Crows Crows Crows Community Museum.

The Bird Museum is free to download over on Itch.io. In lieu of payment, Zong points prospective bird fans towards American bird-conservation charity Audubon.

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Natalie Clayton

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