They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, three “pictures,” notably “frames” of the work of iconic Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, are potentially worth the digital words and pictures of 1.2 billion monthly worldwide users of Facebook’s Messenger/Camera.

The museum today announced a joint venture with Facebook, the first time the social media behemoth has partnered with a cultural institution as a way of promoting an exhibit, in this case the hugely popular “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” slated to run through Sept. 24 at the MCA.

Add a bit of Takashi Murakami whimsy to your Facebook Messenger Camera messages via these three frames based on the work of the Japanese artist. | COURTESY MCA

“Facebook Messenger users can select from three Murakami frames,” said Lauren Smallwood, director of communications for the MCA. “It’s a way of interacting with the exhibition in a small way that we obviously hope provides a fun, creative moment and raises awareness of the exhibition and ultimately inspires people to come see the exhibit and the museum.” The frames include snippets of Murakami’s famous “smiling daisies,” “Mr. DOB,” and the fantastical tentacles from the pink octopus work created especially for the MCA show.

MCA exhibit explores more serious side of Takashi Murakami

The frames are available beginning June 19, Smallwood said, when the campaign officially kicks off at the Cannes Lions Festival in France.

“Murakami’s work is a wonderful spectacle, so we challenged ourselves to create small and big spectacles for our marketing campaign,” Smallwood said, in explaining the business partnership with Facebook. “Facebook has long been on our wish list for a brand to partner with so we reached out to their Chicago office and this particular venture as a real opportunity to leverage both Facebook platforms and the exhibit in creative ways.”

The images reflected in the frames are three already in use to promote the exhibit and were approved by Murakami, Smallwood said.

“He and his team are hands-on in every aspect of his work and he was definitely involved in selecting these three images,” she said. “Murakami blesses every piece of his work in the marketplace. He’s also very active on social media so we knew this digital [integration] would be an exciting opportunity.”

Murakami boasts more than 100,000 followers on Twitter and 335,000 on Instagram. His fan base obviously includes U2, who popped in to see the MCA exhibit when the band played two shows in Chicago earlier this month.

U2’s Bono and The Edge were given a tour of the Takashi Murakami exhibit at the MCA by curator Naomi Beckwith earlier this month when the band played Soldier Field. | PHOTO COURTESY THE MCA