For the past week the Twitter-sphere has been all a-flap as museums around the world have been exchanging solicited #duckpics. Fear not—it is not as dirty as it sounds. On 4 January, the Museum of English Rural Life (Merl), a small university museum in the English city of Reading, posted a black and white photograph of a little duckling with the sentence "Mother I'm ready to conquer the world", followed by "This strong and powerful duckling was photographed at the farm of Thornber Bros, Thetford, Norfolk in 1934." The museum then Tweeted a challenge to the British Museum: "give us your best duck".
The British Museum responded with an ancient Egyptian cosmetic case in the form of a duck, and it wasn't long before the rest of the museum community were in on the quack-tion. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the National Gallery of Ireland, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris were among the many institutions offering ducky delights from their collections.
The Merl have become infamous for their viral Twitter campaigns that encourage other museums to share animal-related objects and works of art. The first, in April 2018, showed a photograph of a very large ram with the comment "look at this absolute unit", which was retweeted 31,000 times. In November last year, the Merl also challenged the Louvre to send an image of a chicken wearing trousers.
So after sheep, chickens and ducks, what's next for the Merl's Twitter takeover? "We're rapidly running out of farmyard animals," says Adam Koszary, who is in charge of the museum's account. "But considering that this it the Year of the Pig we hope to get people excited about all things porcine in 2019! Honestly though we never know what people are going to latch onto—it just seems people want history that is fun, relatable and animal-based."
We asked Koszary which museum had won the competition for the greatest BDE (Big Duck Energy): "We quite enjoy the National Railway Museum one for interpreting it more creatively, best GIF goes to the Royal Academy and most BDE energy goes to the Natural History Museum."
The Merl have now declared an official #InternationalSolicitedDuckPicDay for 5 January 2020. We can hardly ducking wait.