Fandom addresses the variety of ways fans share community, a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with those who share a common interest in celebrating even minor details of the objects of their fandom. Outside of fan conventions, communication and interaction between fans primarily occurs online, where detailed information can be archived, and where fans can congregate on forums and discussion boards to share their love for and criticism of a specific work.
This exhibition strives to confirm what many writers, artists and fans know who create new stories, contexts and visions for the object of their affection. With "Art of Fandom", we explore fandoms through art, objects and collectibles with the objective to make these subcultures accessible to the mainstream.
The Fandom exhibition was able to tie a range of diverse subjects together with a common theme of obsessive appreciation—and as a result, it had teenagers interested in comics looking also at literary fandom, literary and bandom fans exploring sports fandom and manga, and through it all contemporary art. The exhibition highlighted how our obsessions are not lonely or isolated, and created awareness of the fun people of all types have in going crazy for star wars, iron man, wonder woman, star trek, harry potter, etc. It also tied these themes through different places and cultures—showing the threads of place in all types of fandoms, from Japan, to the North and Arctic in comics and literary fandom (such as Game of Thrones) to artists who work in England, Malaysia, China, and Korea.
The Art of Fandom exhibition exposed visitors to the concepts of fandom, fan art, and fan fiction through a series of galleries totaling over 7,500 square feet. Multiple interactive exhibits were developed to augment the wide variety of collectibles and fan art and encourage visitors to have a personal experience . A responsive Stargate-like portal, lighted comic illustration drawing tables, a manga cafe, and a fan fiction reading room were integrated into the exhibition and catered to all ages. Multiple fandom related programs were held in the space and throughout the Museum to expand and share in conversation among collectors and fans, and culminating in a Cosplay Night to close out the exhibition.