We Are Museums 2019

Muzeum Slaskie (Katowice, Poland)

27/28/29 May 2019

In 2019, it’s high time to put the environment first. With escalating ecological emergency approaching, museums have to join the green revolution and address vital environmental issues. That’s why, We Are Museums 2019 brought an array of museum professionals to the city of Katowice in Poland where the COP24 took place a few months earlier to reimagine museums as transformative tools for creating a sustainable future. Through a variety of discussions, workshops and panels, top international experts provided ideas and practical tips on what museums can do to help battle climate change. 

Understanding the urgency of the climate crisis, We Are Museums 2019 aims to maximize museums’ social and environmental impact. It is becoming increasingly obvious, that as institutions of knowledge and trust museums have to play a key role in preserving the planet. In recent years, numerous museums and initiatives are formed to address sustainability and climate change and to encourage people to act including the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice, UN Live Museum, the Climate Museum UK and the Climate Collective Poland. Apart from its important global role, museums can also play a role in the local community. The term Museumhood was coined to define the important role museums can play in the community by teaching people new skills, reviving old neighbourhoods, and addressing important social issues like racism and migration. Finally, museums can have a positive impact on individual wellbeing.  The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Städel Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and Latvian National Museum of Art have all collaborated with doctors and therapists to create Museotherapies effective at reducing stress, improving memory and human overall health.

  1. Museums must not remain neutral when it comes to climate change

There’s a belief that museums must restrain themselves from commenting on current issues. That they have to stay neutral to avoid alienating their supporters or falling prey to special interest groups. However, when it comes to climate change, museums must take action. And museums have many assets, that make them the perfect catalysts for green revolution. They are grounded in their community, they are bridges between science and culture, they collect sustainable living practices from the past, they gather evidence and knowledge and make things known and they make learning accessible and engaging.  

  1. Museums can contribute to sustainability in so many ways

There are numerous practices museums can adopt to contribute to preserving the environment. Ewa Chomicka (Member of Climate Collective Poland) presented several eco-solutions museums can implement in their daily work, including rational resource management (waste sorting, reduced energy consumption…), supporting the environmental engagement of staff, shaping visitors' habits and building environmental awareness in the local community. Dr Robert R. Janes (Founder and Co-Chair at Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice), emphasized the importance of reducing jet travel and meat consumption, developing an advocacy policy on answering future environmental problems, creating framework that address climate change myths and even writing a letter to your siblings and children and telling them what you did (and what they can do) to save the planet. 

  1. It’s too late to hesitate

Despite an important role they can play, many museums still prefer to play a safe, cautious and indirect role in environmental action. According to Michael Edson (Co-founder and Associate Director of UN live), museums are held back by 3 defects in practice. Firstly, they are too cautious and reluctant to act. Many museums are afraid that by “taking sides” on environmental issues they will lose a part of their audience. Second, they are too slow. The researches show that we only have 11 years to act to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. Yet many museums prefer to take things slowly, even though winning slowly in this case, is equivalent to losing. Finally, museums overestimate the impact of indirect actions. Museums have to let go of the myth that they can lead by example and that the rest of society will follow. They have to get socially active if they want to inspire others to act.  

  1. Take your activities outdoors

There are people who never visit museums. The only way to reach these people is by taking the museums outside. Ewa Chomicka (Member of Climate Collective Poland) suggested travelling exhibitions, eco vehicles, climate march, climate benches as some of the ways museums can use to reach people where they already are. Following the same idea, Bridget McKenzie (Founding Director at Climate Museum UK) created a mobile museum to help people cope with change. Climate Museum UK, helps the  indigenous community learn, create and take positive action, while also staying supportive to their immediate needs.

  1. Turn visitors into makers

We live in a time of a new industrial revolution. Mass production (that results in a lot of waste) is being replaced with modern crafts based on personalization, sustainability and wiser use of resources. Errol van de Werdt (CEO of the TextielMuseum) shared with us the steps he used to turn the TextielMuseum into a place where you enter as a visitor and leave as a maker. Museum’s TextielLab, organizes workshops and masterclasses for visitors, students and children. The museum even gives designers, artists and students a chance to use the museum textiles, machineries and the expert knowledge to experiment and develop high quality designs, art objects and prototypes. Apart from working with professionals, the museum also supports social entrepreneurship by connecting people distant to the labour market with designers, teaching them new skills and helping them develop their own social label.

  1. Inclusion starts by building trust

When Armando Perla (Project Manager at the Museum of Movements) began to work on the creation of Swedish Museum Of Movements, he has discovered that not everyone trust museums. Especially not oral history museums, that collect people’s memories and then use them for their own profit. To build the relationship of trust with the local community, the museum has adopted the bottom-up approach. It  diversified its staff and organized workshops with experts and residents. The mission of the workshops, was to teach the locals how to effectively tell their stories, and to teach the experts how to present the content to accurately reflect residents’ memories.

  1. Participation lets museums discover history from different perspectives

In 2011, the Historical Museum Frankfurt launched a participatory project entitled the CityLab. The project helped the museum research the city together with its inhabitants and discover how the city is subjectively perceived and experienced. The research led to a lot of positive effects. It provided multiperspectivity and multivocality. It gathered collective knowledge about the city that’s tangible, visible, discussable and shareable. By telling their stories, people became suddenly visible in the museum world, which deepened their sense of place and empowered them to reclaim the city. 

 

  1. Give the youth the credit it deserves

Young people know the world around them and have many ideas about how to improve it, but they are often ignored. To help the youth of today find their voice and be heard, Ana Frank museum uses tablets and VR to connects young visitors to important issues like how do we create the world, how does the world concern me, how do we treat one another with respect... An “Open doors” project in Denmark, gave a group of teenagers textile, space, machines and some light to create 5 atmospheres they wanted for the museums (discovery, transition, sharing, belonging and the unexpected). The project encouraged the teens to transform the space, to do things collectively, share food and informal conversations and reflect on their ideas, skills and the ultimate product.

  1. Museums can heal

Museums can have a positive impact on preventing and recovering from diseases. In recent years, many museums worked together with doctors, therapists and researchers to design museotherapies - combining wellness, art therapy and health improvement. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, for example, worked with doctors to establish programs for people with eating disorders, mental health issues and the elderly. Thanks to the collaboration with Médecins francophones du Canada, doctors can now prescribe museum visits to patients, thus allowing them to enter a museum free of charge. Städel Museum in Germany designed programs for people with disabilities, cancer and dementia patients and pupils with mental and physical disabilities. Manchester Art Gallery, on the other hand, organized “And Breathe” exhibition that helps people reduce stress by placing them into a room with comfortable furniture and selected artworks, and encouraging them to relax and just breathe.

  1. Museums should be routed in sustainable communities

The museum has to develop its purpose by opening up to the society and adapting to local and global developments. There are four elements, for creating a sustainable ecosystem in your museum. First, create open spaces accessible to all. Second, redundancy as a way to create diversity and quality in the community, staff, topics you tackle and actions and activity you provide. Third, permeability - the ability to always change what you have done or what you have planned, to make it more suitable for the public, the community and your team. And finally, infiltration as a way to change not only what you do, but also to change what you are. Cultural and community centre in Senegal, is using open spaces and redundancy very well, by turning its hall into a safe space where pupils can come over and do their homework. Embracing the principle of permeability, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is giving new job skills to visitors by organizing ceramic workshops. Tate named one of its buildings after Natalie Bell, a local activist which is a great example of infiltration and changing what you represent.

INTRODUCTIONS

Alicja Knast, Director, Muzeum Śląskie (PL)

Paulina Florjanowicz, Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (PL)

Frances Croxford, The Seeking State (UK)

SECTION 1 - TOMORROW STARTS TODAY

By gathering inspiring and forward-thinking definitions of the museum, these opening lectures enable common values to emerge and those will in turn guide the reflexion on the transformation of museums which is at the core of WAM 2019’s programme. 

5 Visions from International Experts on Museums of Today and Tomorrow

Alicja Knast, Director, Muzeum Śląskie (PL)

Robert R. Janes, Founder and Co-Chair, Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CA)

Nathalie Bondil, Director, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (CA)

Michael Peter Edson, Co-founder, Museum for the United Nations (US)

Diane Drubay, Founder, We Are Museums (FR/DE)

The Future Is Now: Practical Approaches to the Museums of Tomorrow

Sandro Debono, Director, MUZA (MT)

Chris Keady, Interim Museum Manager, Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, Happy Museum Board Member (UK)

Nikolaj Moeller, Content Associate, Museum for the United Nations (DK)

SECTION 2 - MUSEUMS FOR GOOD

This session looks at future-ready museums as agents of social, environmental, health and educational change that are already working towards changing realities and building a better tomorrow.

Museotherapy

Thibaut Thomas, Post-Internet Communication Strategist (FR)

Thomas Bastien, Director of Education and Wellness, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (CA)

Ieva Andžāne, Curator of Education, Latvian National Museum of Art (LV)

Ronan Brindley, Head of Learning and Engagement, Manchester Art Gallery (UK)

Dr Chantal Eschenfelder, Head of Education and Digital Collection, The Städel Museum (DE)

Museums as Key Civil Society Actors

Lukasz Adamski, Representative of the Director, Muzeum Śląskie (PL)

Armando Perla, Project manager, Museum of Movements (SE)

Errol van de Werdt, Director, TextielMuseum (NL)

Deborah Krieg, Deputy Director, Bildungsstätte Anne Frank (DE)

Lene Høst-Madsen, Director, Museum Skanderborg / Museum of Monastic Life (DK) & Anne Marie Galmstrup, Director, Galmstrup Ltd (UK)

Museums as Green Revolution Leaders

Dr Kristin Alford, Director, Museum of Discovery / MOD (AU)

Morien Rees, Museum Development Advisor, Varanger Museum and Chair of the ICOM Working Group on Sustainability (NO)

Bridget McKenzie, Founder, Climate Museum UK, Flow Associates (UK)

Ewa Chomicka, Manager of Museum Practices Lab, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews / Muzeum Slaskie (PL)

SECTION 3 - THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MUSEUM 

One Insight: Three Illustrations: Five Key Lessons. / Informed by the insight that cultural entrepreneurship is nourished by inspirations from looking outside the parameters of our own sector, this panel will explore examples of ambitious cultural enterprise from three practitioners. We will explore their understanding of entrepreneurship and the sources of inspiration for their ideas. The panel will conclude with five key lessons that we can take forward to help our organisations achieve more entrepreneurial futures. 

Martijn Pronk, Head of Digital Communications, Van Gogh Museum (NL)

Bettina Gardelles, Digital Project Manager, Centre Des Monuments Nationaux (FR)

Brendan Ciecko, CEO & Founder, Cuseum (US)

SECTION 6 - EMBODIED MUSEUM EXPERIENCES

While the museum experience can now go from the traditional contemplation to the active creation of a social museum, it is now through VR that the museum experience can be fully embodied. This panel will talk about the emotional, sensorial and even neurological impact of VR on visitors and how museums can use it to curate the museum experience again.

Discussion led by Bernadine Bröcker, CEO and Co-Founder, Vastari (UK)

Sylvain Levy, Co-founder, DSL Collection (FR)

Joël Kremer, Director, Kremer Museum (NL)

Charlotte Bosman, Digital Project Manager, Anne Frank House (NL)

SECTION 7 – MUSEUMHOOD

Museums are potent vectors for social bonding; they enhance the ties between individuals and communities when they become social hubs. Deeply rooted in their territoriality, shaped and defined by the local communities to which they belong to, the museums represented in this session found a way to speak the same language as their visitors and to encourage openness, and committed participation from the community.

Permeable Museums and New Democratic Ecosystems

Alicja Knast, Director, Muzeum Śląskie (PL) 

Vilma Jurkute, Director, Alserkal Avenue of Dubai (UAE)

Muna Faisal Al Gurg, Acting Director of Museum Department at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Al Shindagha Museum (UAE)

Laura Hollingshaus, Junior Curator, Historical Museum Frankfurt (DE)

Armando Perla, Project manager, Museum of Movements (SE)

Nikolaj Moeller, Content Associate, Museum for the United Nations (DK)

Lauren Parker, Head of Creative Partnerships (Smithfield), Museum of London (UK)

Becoming Neighbors

Alexander Debono, Director, MUZA (MT)

Masha Turchinsky, Director, Hudson River Museum (US)

Marthe de Vet, Head of Education & Interpretation, Vincent Connects, Van Gogh Museum (NL)

Jane Wells, Programme Manager for Tate Exchange, Tate (UK)

We Are Museums 2018

ESAV (Marrakech, Morocco)

7/8/9 May 2018

For our 6th edition of We Are Museums conference, we have decided to let ourselves inspired by a country and a culture based on the intangible to inspire new models of museums. We have travelled to Marrakech in Morocco to host our first conference outside of the European continent. Adjusted to the location, WAM 2018 gathered experts and professionals from national and international museums to explore trends in the museum development that are making a global impact.

Marrakesh in Morocco, a city with a strong emerging cultural identity, has hosted the 2018 edition of We Are Museums focusing on the role museums can play in creating a better society for all. Gathering intangible cultural heritage was the focal point of this year’s conference with Living Museum of the Sea, Collective Museum for Casablanca, and Emigration Museum in Poland, proving that oral history and memories are just as important part of our heritage as objects and artefacts. But these memories and testimonies must come from people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and ages to provide a multitude of perspectives. We must all decide what is it that we want to preserve for future generations. Realising that there are people left out of the networks of cultural diffusion, Fondation Zinsou, the MACAAL and Musée du Louvre among others, developed social inclusion programs to reach out to deprivileged communities. By inviting people to design displays and participate in educational activities, museums can equip marginalized groups with skills necessary to help them find their place in the world, while simultaneously reshaping the society.

  1. Use technology to bring museums closer to children

When Joël Kremer (Director of the Kremer Collection) visited a school in the Bronx, he realized that only a few pupils have ever been to a museum, despite being only a few kilometers away from renowned NYC institutions. That’s why, he employed virtual reality to make museums accessible to all. VR technology is portable and easy to use, and VR museums can be so realistic that they provide almost a real-life experience. On the other side of the globe in Benin, La Fondation Zinsou has developed “Wakpon” for the same purpose. “Wakpon” is a mobile app that allows you to access a base of African art, select and print an image of an artwork and then hang it as a poster at home, in school or government institution.

  1. Employ different ways of presenting the collection

Different people prefer different ways of receiving information. Some people like to read about the artworks, others like to listen about them and third prefer an interactive approach provided by guided tours. That’s why, every museum should allow people to choose how they want to receive information. The Kremer Collection VR museum, for example, conveys information in three different ways: text, audio and hologram tours (in which the founders virtually guide people through the museum).

  1. Museums can help create a better society

At first, museums were places where important objects were stored and preserved. Then, museums reinvented themselves as places of participation and engagement. However, now it’s time for museums to go even further, and help reshape society through education, communication and art. Alistair Hudson, (former Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) organized workshops, public meetings, and social enterprises at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art to revive the town in England troubled by poverty and migration. Dialogue and learning new skills, helped migrants and the local population to build a better society together.  

  1. Memories and emotions are the building blocks of history

Museums mostly focus on research, statistics, and objects, while neglecting the importance of emotions and memories. But memories can be crucial for filling in the gaps in historical narratives. The Emigration Museum in Poland, uses emigrant’s testimonies to present biographies of people who left. The Collective Museums of Casablanca, uses photos, films, and testimonies to preserve memories of spaces that are about to disappear. Living Museum of the Sea in Italy puts recollections and non-material heritage at the very focus of the museum, that explores the human relationship with the sea.

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of planning

Even when museums are based on people’s memories and contributions, you still have to retain control over how these contributions are collected, organized and presented. Living Museum of the Sea in Palermo, for example, used a carefully planned research strategy to gather input from the neighbourhood. First, they determined who they are looking for (people with memories, people with the connection to the sea, local activists, people passionate about the local storytelling). A pre-prepared list of questions, helped get the most out of people’s recollections. Finally, Cristina Alga (co-founder of the museum), and her team printed a big map of the district and invited people to tell stories by placing objects on the map. They also had to think about editing and post-production to turn all the stories into a well-rounded experience.  

  1. We are all cultural heritage makers

 We as a society decide together what we want to preserve for the future. To ensure the multitude of perspectives, Imagine IC in Amsterdam assembled diverse social groups, to discuss what they want to conserve for future generations. Among others, the project asked migrants, black and queer communities and the youth, to give meanings to museum objects and create narratives representative of the society as a whole.   

  1. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best

It is not always easy to encourage people to engage. Accustomed to the “don’t touch” signs around museums, visitors are often reluctant to interact with the display. To get people to engage, the DDR museum in Germany has come up with an ingenious, yet simple solution. Many of the artefacts are placed inside cupboards and cabinets, and people are forced to open them to get to the content. It might be complicated to teach people how a mobile app works, but everybody knows how to open the drawer.

  1. Digital can be the perfect extension of the physical

The digital and the physical can complement each other. In the DDR Museum in Berlin, for example, a Trabant (the most famous East German car) was extended with sensors, which enable you to drive through the digital landscape. Also, you can select vintage clothing and virtually try it on in front of a digital mirror.

  1. Cultural institutions should help produce art (not just conserve it)

Making art is a collective endeavor. Of course, there’s always an artist with an idea, but it often takes a team of people to turn that idea into reality. Realizing the importance of art production, Lafayette Anticipations Foundation established workshop spaces, with tools for digital and laser cutting, sewing, printing... And if an artist has a requirement that cannot be completed inside the building, the foundation will outsource the task and connect the artist with people who can get the job done.

10. When countries collaborate, everybody benefits 

Thanks to the collaboration between the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the French government, people in the Emirates can now enjoy artworks from 14 French cultural institutions. The versatility of the collection, that has a 50:50 ratio between loans and their own artworks, helps Louvre Abu Dhabi attract more visitors. But the collaboration is beneficial for the French institutions as well, as it helps spread knowledge and the popularity of French culture in the Middle East.

INTRODUCTIONS
Vincent Melilli, Director of ESAV
Abdelaziz El Idrissi, Director Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rabat

SECTION 1 - Cultural venues are the new hubs for social change
Creating a model of social development
"The Useful Museum" - ALISTAIR HUDSON, Director, Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries (United Kingdom). Former director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), his vision is based on the "Useful Museum" which places the institution as an actor dedicated to the promotion of art as an educational tool of social change.

"Art as a Vector of Social Inclusion" - MERIEM BERRADA, Head of Cultural Projects, Fondation Alliances (Morocco). Since 2013, the Alliances Foundation, which also created MACAAL, has been offering visual arts awareness workshops aimed at audiences isolated from culture.

"The CNEAI" - SYLVIE BOULANGER, Director, CNEAI National Art Image Center (France). Recently opened in Pantin, Cneai wants to use its contemporary art center as an incubator for artists to create an alternative economic value for the city. Acting as a social actor, the Cneai also provides the inhabitants of Pantin with an art gallery of contemporary art.

Panel Catalyst: GEMMA BOON, Director, Museum No Hero (The Netherlands)

The New Touchpoints of Culture
"Changing Public Perception Through Community Outreach" - ANAÏS GUÉDON,  Project manager, Musée du Louvre (France). The program “Le Louvre chez vous” is an outreach program that aims to create a close, trust-based connection between the museum and the inhabitants of two disadvantaged Paris suburbs. Based on collaborative experiences, this program is made for the locals, with the locals.

"The Foundation Zinsou" - HALIMA ONODJÈ, Managing Director, Fondation Zinsou (Benin). The Fondation Zinsou promotes contemporary art but also focuses on making art and culture available for children with different programmes liks the School Bus, the travelling exhibitions, the The “Mini Bibliothèques” or the mobile app "Wakpon".

Panel Catalyst: ANNEMARIE GALMSTRUP, Founding Director, Galmstrup (United Kingdom)

SECTION 2 - Maximising experiences
Create empathic and personal cultural experiences
"Marvel to Educate - Emotion and Experience Serving Transmission" - AGNÈS PARENT, Director of Audiences, Natural History Museum Paris (France). The National Museum of Natural History in Paris has a long tradition of developing museum setups to encourage the connection of visitors with collections or knowledge. Through the presentation of several exhibitions or museographic devices, we will endeavor to question the concept of visit experience: individual or collective, appealing to cognition but also to emotion, senses and body.

"A Hands-On Experience of History" - MICHAEL GEITHNER, Head of Games and Game Design, DDR Museum (Germany). For over 11 years the DDR Museum encourages visitors to not only look at historic objects from East-Germany's past, but rather encourages them, to touch, grab, use, listen, watch, dress, drive, open, close, use, play... to interact with them in any way imaginable. Michael Geithner, Head of Game-Design, will talk about how visitors are involved in the museum's "hands-on experience of history".

"Louvre Abu Dhabi: A Universal Narrative in a Connected World" - Louvre Abu-Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). The guest presented the narrative of the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi focusing on the ambition of creating a universal museum in the 21st Century.

Hybrid Museum
"Lafayette Resource, Mappinng Contemporary Data Using Semantic Web Technologies" - MATTHIEU BONICEL, Head of Publishing and Information Technology, Lafayette Anticipations Foundation (France)". Lafayette Anticipations, a new art production centre in Paris, has developped over the past 3 years ReSource, a software dedicated to record and archive digitally all the information gathered in a contemporary art project. The software is now avaliable for other institutions who would like to document their projects.

"Different Aspects of Digital Metholodogy of Gallica in BNF" - SOPHIE BERTRAND, Manager in chief Gallica and French cooperation, French National Library (France). Gallica is 20 years old this year. Creating a national digitalized library is a big challenge every day : it means thinking about management, innovation, technology, public strategy and imagine a new role for the cultural heritage.

"Bringing the Museum to the People" - JOEL KREMER, Director, The Kremer Collection (The Netherlands). The Kremer Collection launched in October 2017 the Kremer Museum, an innovative new concept that combines cutting-edge technology with world-class masterpieces featuring over 70 Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings from the 17th century exclusively accessible through Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

Panel Catalyst: ERIC ASMAR, Partnerships Lead, Houna (Morocco

SECTION 3 - Shared heritage, shared identities
Collect Intangible Heritage
"A Collective Museum for Casablanca" - MOHAMED FARIJI and LEA MORIN, Co-directors, L'Atelier de l'Observatoire (Morocco). The Collective Museum is a citizen-led museum dedicated to the public memory of cities, which hosts particularly objects and documents that are about to disappear, therefore tracing a history of what could have no more be.

"Surfing on the Waves of Memory" - CRISTINA ALGA, Co-founder, Living Museum of the Sea (Italy)". How to collect non-material heritage involving the local communities in participatory processes to share their living-memories to create a museum.

"Collecting Sounds" - Brahim El Mazned, Director, Visa for Music, Fondation Hiba (Morocco). A work done on the anthology of aïta, a traditional Moroccan music, allowed the Hiba Foundation to create a real collection laboratory through a range of cataloging and know-how, transmission and dissemination techniques. .

Panel Catalyst: JAN-PHILIPP POSSMANN, Director, zeitraumexit (Germany)

Deliver Intangible Heritage
"The Morocco of Yves Saint Laurent" - BJÖRN DAHLSTRÖM, Director, Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Museum (Morocco). True cultural center, the museum Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech pays tribute to both the artist and his muse city, but also provides a dynamic and eclectic programming, as desired by its sponsor, Pierre Bergé, patron and companion of Yves Saint Laurent.

"Don't Explain, Just Tell Your Story" - BARBARA MAJCHROWICZ, Chief Oral History Officer, Emigration Museum (Poland). The Emigrant’s Archive project gathers and presents stories of the Polish emigrants. Their work deal with oral history – they are interested in the records of personal experiences of individuals rather than history lectures. The museum believes that every, even seemingly simple emigration route, is unique and, therefore, worthy of preservation.

"Meaning Making" - DANIELLE KUIJTEN, Co-curator, Imagine IC (The Netherlands). The project Imagine IC is based in the periferie of Amsterdam and aims to create a neighbourhood archive, that speaks on urban issues and that is built through participation with an activist approach.

Panel Catalyst: SABRINA KAMILI, Project Manager, Collective Museum of Casablanca (Morocco)

SECTION 4 - Towards the future of culture, 2019 onwards
Permeable Museums
"POP-UP MUSEUMS" - Dr Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt (Germany). The museum offered two temporary spaces in the city to offer a social and friendly place with workshops, concerts, debates to create a platform around contemporary Jewish culture and to understand how such a space could serve communities.

Conclusions
Dr Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt (Germany)
Martijn Pronk, Head of Digital Communications at the Van Gogh Museum (The Netherlands)
Tony Guillan, Arts Producer / Curator / Writer (United Kingdom)
Bernadine Bröcker, CEO of Vastari (United Kingdom)

We Are Museums 2017

Latvian National Museum of Art and Art Academy of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)

12/13/14 June 2017

Between June 11th, and June 14th, the Latvian capital Riga has become the place where museums’ present image and future aspirations collide. In five years, a lot has changed: museums are more empowered and empowering than ever, more entrepreneurial and more socially-involved. They open up more and more and become real powers and counter powers in their communities and societies. In 2017, our speakers told us a lot about how a museum works when digital is integrated everywhere, and how it helps bring even more meaning to their everyday actions. We Are Museums 2017 conference gathered museum professionals, entrepreneurs and game-changers to make the museums of tomorrow, the reality today.

Inclusion, public benefits and social impact have been the central topics of We Are Museums 2017 in Riga, Latvia. The necessity of gender inclusion was reflected by Women’s Museum in Denmark that established itself as a platform for dialogue and free gender expression, while Andy Warhol Museum presented an inclusive audioguide that helps blind and visually impaired experience visual art. Including the elusive GEN Z can be just as much of a challenge, which is why museums like the Louvre, Tate and kim? are experimenting with tools, trainings and approaches that can engage the young and give them the power to transform museums. Museums can learn a lot from various social groups, but also by collaborating with other professionals (YouTubers, AI experts, designers…). Turning Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) into a coworking space resulted in mixed reality commissions, artificial intelligence projects and new ways of branding. And when SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst opened up its collection for free use, public institutions, startups and companies were quick to employ the artefacts to improve health and social conditions, spread knowledge and fuel business ventures, thus proving that museum collections can be used to the benefit of us all.

1. Museums are change makers.

Museums and the arts are definitely not neutral. We have seen it in the very first months of 2017 in American museums, but even without big political trigger, museums take stands. For women’s history and gender equality, for accessibility and inclusivity, for emerging artists or to give a space to digital art. Even things that seem very natural in the way your museum works, they are actually political and can positively impact whole communities and start conversations. How amazing is that?

2. Build influence strategies like businesses do

It is something that Museums have always been good at building strong experiences and universes, but in the past years, brands seem to have been more daring in terms of content creation. Bloggers, YouTubers, instagrammers and pop artists can be turned into ambassadors that tell your story in a way that will speak to their audiences by finding a middle-ground between your universe and values and theirs… and will give you ideas for content that you can create yourself. Beyond blogger visits and instawalks, provide Youtubers and influencers with all the information they want or let music stars in to reach out to an audience that is often overlooked but needs to be addressed but high-value attractive content: non-visitors who may be more interested than they know in your museum.

3. Digital should be natural by now.

Actually, should we still be talking about digital? Digital should be integrated in every step of how your museum works: Hire people that are comfortable with digital tools and practices, train your teams (yes, even curators and experts) to use digital tools and adapt their research to new formats, give your digital team a real place in your organization chart and let everybody knows what they are here for. Once digital transformation impacts part of your strategy and vision, it is naturally integrated to every project from its very beginning, making your whole strategy more coherent.

4. Everybody has a say in what museums will be in 15 years.

Actually, everybody should already have a say in what museums are right now. Museum should be filled with youth programmes like Tate Collectives, open discussions, spaces that actually let people discuss how they feel, not only about the museum but also about other social issues that are important to them. Be connected to your audiences and your community, empower them to tell you what they expect from you and take it as a starting point for your future experiences.

5. The gender equality conversation should start in museums.

After the very moving inspiring talk by Julie Rokkjær Birch from the Women’s Museum in Aarhus about telling women’s history and gender history, a bigger conversation started. While a vast majority of We Are Museums speakers and attendees where women, most museum directors are men. In the US, museums with female directors tend to be smaller. And most artists exhibited in museums are still men. It is essential for museums to evolve and be more diverse up to the executive level to bring a different perspective, be more aligned with society and speak a more universal language, addressing issues that may have been forgotten or considered as shameful or trivial.

6. More than ever, museums need to be open to the world.

As our very first edition in Vilnius, Martijn Pronk – now Head of digital communication at the Van Gogh Museum – introduced us to the idea that releasing high-definition digitized artworks through the Rijksstudio would turn them into ambassadors of the Rijksmuseum. This year, Merete Sanderhoff told us about how the Statens Museum for Kunst actually makes a difference in people’s live by freely sharing their collection online. Whether it is to decorate a construction site or to let drug addicts add classical art to their safe injection site, releasing your collection will both empower people and educate them to art.

7. Museums need to empower their local communities.

Museums are places where people meet, but until recently, the museum staff would decide how and when they meet. What if you followed the Wellcome collection and opened a space for your audience to create their own events? What if your museum was not centered exhibitions, but became a venue that blends into people’s social life, making them go from coffee to exhibitions? What it your visitors could decide what they want to talk about? Open up, empower your audiences, give them tools to make the museum their own.

8. Museums can be capital builders.

Your local community reaches far beyond visitors. Startups and local companies are part of it, too. Give them a place to meet (a coworking space if you have enough space, but you can also set up a series of meetups), exchange expertise, get inspired by each other and by your collection. And most importantly, foster exchanges between those startups and your staff. Both will get more creative, making the museum’s work more groundbreaking and turning the museum into a resource for a creative and innovative society.

9. Startups foster collaboration between museums.

Speaking about startups, more and more startups at Tech Loves Culture provide services that connect museums to one another, allow them to benefit from a common visibility or to exchange skills. If you are already working with a startup to create VR or 360-degree experiences (OverlyVividlyOcean…) , you can also do it to attract audiences from other museums (UseumCulturalivMymu.se…)  or have an easier access to outside experts (Vastari).

10. Don’t be afraid to be more like a startup.

Design thinking, design sprints, agile methodologies, test and learn… All those new ways of working are incredibly popular in startups, why not make them your own? They will help you prototype ideas in a short amount of time and have quick proofs of what works and what should be improved (or even abandoned). Whether you are building a new website, creating a new area within your museum or offering new events, ideate, bring ideas into life and test them with your audience before investing too much in an idea that may not work. Moreover, consider your ideas as always in progress, test and release a project before it is fully perfected be open about it with your visitors: they will be understanding if you tell them that their feedback is needed for continuous improvement.

SECTION 1 - MUSEUMS AS CREATIVE SPACES

"Becoming a haven of creativity: Tate Collectives" - Leyla Tahir, Tate Collectives Producer at Tate (UK)

"Working alongside the next generation of creatives at ACMI" - Seb Chan, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) (AUS)

SECTION 2 - POST-INTERNET MUSEUM

"Post-Digital Transformation" - Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt (DE)
"Museum made with people" - Ulla Teräs, Project leader at the Helsinki City Museum (FI)

SECTION 3 - DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

"Finding space and time for digital transformation" - Kajsa Hartig, Senior Advisor, Digital Interaction at Nordic Museum / Nordiska museet (SE)
"ARS17+ Challenges and Triumphs of Exhibiting and Collecting Online Art" - MiIja Liimatainen, Curator for Collections at Kiasma (FI)

SECTION 5 - NEW NARRATIVES

"New perspectives on user experience: the SCHIRN Kunsthalle Frankfurt as a place of discovery" - Luise Bachmann, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (DE)

"Old collections as building blocks for new creativity" - Merete Sanderhoff, Curator / Senior Advisor at the SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst (DK)

SECTION 6 - EMPATHETIC MUSEUM

"Out Loud, the inclusive audioguide of the Andy Warhol Museum" - Desi Gonzalez, Manager of Digital Engagement at The Andy Warhol Museum (US)
"Inclusion and impact – from women’s history to gender culture" - Julie Rokkjær Birch, Curator / developer at the Women’s Museum (DK)

SECTION 7 - MUSEUM BRANDING

"How to make an icon visible again?" - Anna Balandina, Head of Communication Department in the Latvian National Museum of Art (LV)

SECTION 8 - MUSEUMS MEET GEN Z

"What’s wrong with the young?" - Kristaps Silins, Partner, Strategist at White Label (LV)
"Museums! Be Gen Z ready!" - Niko Melissano, Head of the Digital Communications Department at the Louvre Museum (FR)

Leyla Tahir, Tate Collectives Producer at Tate (UK)

Linda Vigdorčika, contemporary art institution kim? (LV)

Kristaps Silins, Partner, Strategist at White Label (LV)

SECTION 9 - MUSEUM AS SOCIAL CAPITAL BUILDERS

"User Generated Content in Museums: Opportunity or Challenge?" - Barbara Thiele, Head of Digital & Publishing at Jewish Museum Berlin (DE)
"Talking to Strangers" - Rosie Stanbury, Head of Live Programme at the Wellcome Collection (UK)

FINAL PANEL "The Future of Museum Professionals
by the We Are Museums advisory board"

Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt (DE)

Martijn Pronk, Head of Digital Communications at the Van Gogh Museum (NL)

Tony Guillan, Senior Producer of Public Engagement & Learning at Imperial War Museums (UK)

Bernadine Bröcker, CEO of Vastari (UK)

We Are Museums 2016

National Museum of Contemporary Art  (Bucharest, Romania)

6/7/8 June 2016

We Are Museums 2016 conference held in Bucharest, Romania, (June 6-8) connected startups, entrepreneurs, and museum professionals to share ideas, boost collaboration, and discuss best practices. Based on field experiences and insightful reflections, WAM 2016 focuses on a variety of digital extensions, traineeships and participation that can help museums expand their reach no matter the location, the size, the resources.

The digital age is in full swing, as more and more museums are embarking on the road of the digital transformation. From immersive museums to new museum professions, We Are Museums 2016 has covered a multitude of topics that will facilitate the passage to the digital age. Städel Museum and CMN have recently finished their digital extension, while digitalization of 14 Paris museum collections will take years to finish. Tate and Van Gogh Museum are making the most of technology by using smells, sounds and digital panels to transform their collections into an immersive, multisensory experience. The Met and F.O.A.M invited children and young adults to participate in creating age-appropriate programs, while simultaneously developing their talents. And developing new talents and skills seems to be more important than ever. Our panellists (Emily Lytle-painter from Lacma, Conrad Therrien from Guggenheim and Bernadine Bröcker from Vastari), believe that the current museum roles must be expanded to fit the new digital age. Instead of opening a digital department, you should ensure that all of your departments go digital.

  1. Cultural traineeships benefit both the museums and the participants

 

Museum traineeships for young provide the participants with the experience of working in a museum, expands their professional network, teaches them about teamwork, lets them discover new talents, and shows them what it's like to be museum entrepreneurs. The museum, on the other hand, gets the opportunity to scout young talents, attract younger audience, stay on top of new trends, get fresh ideas, and nurture critical approach toward the organization.

 

  1. Help people be their own connoisseurs

 

Museums can help visitors gain knowledge and form their own opinion about art. Certain art genres, like abstract art, are particularly difficult for the audience to understand. To help bring these art genres closer to the audience Tony Guillan from Tate, and a team of outside collaborators created a multimedia journey through 4 artworks. The journey included the projection of the actual artworks accompanied by audio records about the artists' inspiration, artwork-inspired smells, sounds referring to the artworks' subjects and the form of the actual artworks. By experiencing art with all their senses the visitors are more likely to understand it and relate to it.

 

  1. Digital allows you to take your exhibitions around the world

 

It’s not easy to send art on the world tour. Since many people are visiting the museum to see the collection, it needs to remain in the building as a part of the actual display. Also, there’s always the risk of damaging art during shipping. Due to these difficulties, many museums are turning to digital exhibitions that enable art to travel the globe without ever leaving the museum. Van Gogh Museum created one such multimedia exhibition that brings the story of the artist's life to distant cities in Asia. 

 

  1.   Make your goals SMART

 

Digital projects in museums can cost a lot of time, money, effort, resources… That’s why before you start to do anything, it’s important to set up goals that are realistic and achievable. One way to do that is by setting up goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Setting up SMART goals helps museums focus their efforts and increase the probabilities of achieving those goals.

 

  1. Be ambitious  

 

But choosing SMART goals, doesn't mean that you can't be ambitious. Paris Musées project, that brings together 14 municipal museums, didn't have a lot of resources or a lot of employees, but that didn’t stop them from setting up numerous goals for their project. From helping visitors find the collection, developing the audience, creating an international and national position, building a platform for scholars and the general public, generating a semantic database, displaying project content to the website of all 14 museums... Just because you have a lot of limitations, that doesn’t mean you should settle for less. Instead, try to do the most you can, with what you have.

 

  1.   New jobs for the new age

 

Innovation specialist, digital content manager, education technologist… these job titles seem familiar to us now, but a few years ago they didn’t even exist. As museums get overtaken by the digital technology, numerous new skills are required to cover all the bases of the digital transformation. That’s why museums need to focus on hiring people who have the expertise and understanding of how new technologies are changing our lives. 

 

  1.   Use experimentation to give small museums a massive exposure

 

The Historical and Folklore Museum of Nikiti experimented with alternative use of the museum facilities to increase visibility, attract the audience and build a partnership with local businesses. Promotional video was projected on the nearby restaurant, fashion photoshoots, film screening and contemporary art exhibitions were organized and visitors invited to share their photos of the museum on social media. It’s not easy to draw attention to small museums, but fusing new technology and traditional artefacts might be the winning combination. 

 

  1.   Projects FOR the kids should be made WITH the kids and BY the kids

 

Kids have to be involved in every stage of the development of a project intended for their age. From initial planning, co-creation, design, user experience, to testing through play. But that doesn’t mean that the children should be left completely on their own. Knowing that their knowledge about the artefacts is limited, Met museum gave children access to their advisors, curators and educators. Together they made #MetKids project that guides children ages 7-12 through the museum’s fascinating collection. 

 

  1.     Museums are a great inspiration for mobile games

 

Museum subjects, objects and stories, can provide content for very thought-provoking mobile games. In the time and age when many mobile games look alike, museums can help provide new stories and shake things up. Creating mobile games is great for museums as well, since people have to learn a lot about the collection to successfully play the game.  

 

  1.   Get rid of your digital department  

By creating a separate digital department in your museum, you are creating the split between that department and the rest of the museum. When in reality, all departments should be your digital department. Make everybody go digital by establishing rules and training. Make digital calendar mandatory for scheduling meetings for everyone (from the director to freelancers). Diversify skills through training. Train curators on how to use Snapchat and social media to help them show off their expertise online as well as offline. Digital works best when it's done by the entire personnel.

SECTION 1 - Immersive Museum
"Tate Sensorium and the Project’s Findings on Multisensory Experiences" - Tony Guillan, Multimedia Producer, Tate (UK)

"Meet Vincent Van Gogh" - Axel Rüger, Director, Van Gogh Museum (NL)

Interview with Martijn Pronk, Rijksmuseum Martijn Pronk, Head of Publications and Digital Media Department, Rijksmuseum (NL)

SECTION 2 - Digital Strategy

"The Digital Extension of the Städel Museum" - Axel Braun, Head of Press and Online Communication, Städel Museum (DE)

"The CMN Strategy in the Digital Era: Building a Digital Ecosystem for French Heritage Sites" - Laure Pressac, Director of Digital Strategy and Prospective, Centre des Monuments Nationaux (FR)

SECTION 3 - Speak to your community

"History. Take it Personally!" - Joanna Wojdyło, Press Officer, Emigration Museum (PL)

"Theater of History, or still a Museum?" - Łukasz Adamski, Deputy Project Manager, Core Exhibition, POLIN Museum (PL)

SECTION 4 - Specific Audiences

"#MetKids: Why Their Voices Matter" - Masha Turchinsky, Senior Manager of Digital Learning, Metropolitan Museum of Art (US)

"Foam Lab: Cultural Traineeship in a museum" - Maren Siebert, Head of Education, Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (NL)

SECTION 5 - New Job Titles in Museums

"The Museum Professionals of the Future" - Emily Lytle-Painter, Museum Strategist (US)

Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Guggenheim (US)

Bernadine Bröcker, Director, Vastari (UK) @bjkbrocker"

SECTION 6 - Gaming in the museum

"The Lost Palace: Sensory Experiences of London’s Hidden History" - Tim Powell, Digital Producer, Historic Royal Palaces (UK)

"Creating Compelling Museum Games" - Martha Henson, Consultant, Frankly, Green + Webb (UK)

SECTION 7 - Online Museums

"Publishing the Collections of 14 Museums on One Website" - Philippe Rivière, Head of Web and Multimedia Department, Paris Musées (FR)

"Peak Flow" - Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Guggenheim (US)

We Are Museums 2015

Jewish Museum Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

31st May, 1/2 June 2015

Held under the slogan "Into the future of museums", We Are Museums 2015 was our biggest conference yet, gathering over 30 speakers and a diverse crowd of attendees. The conference held on June 1st and 2nd at the capital of Germany Berlin, brought together contemporary artists, curators, communication professionals and digital media experts, who joined forces to explore new frontiers of museums’ online practice.

Dealing with the notion of “Museums… after the internet”, We Are Museums 2015 conference explored how the status of museums changes when the contact with the audience is mediated by technology. In that spirit, we discussed Jewish Museum Berlin’s transverse 7-steps digital transformation process, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya's content strategy that provides useful content to the audience and how Vincent Van Gogh museum utilises storytelling to attract visitors and boost engagement. To reach a truly global audience, museums have to make their websites multilingual and establish their presence on social networks and Internet browsers used in different parts of the globe, just like The Palace of Versailles did to get closer to the Chinese audience. And to attract donors, museums have to prove the positive impact they have on society (like boosting civic engagement, tolerance and altruism). Or as Chief Digital Officer at the MET Sree Sreenivasan said "It’s no longer about doing great work. You have to tell people that you are doing great work". And what better way to inform people about the great work you do, than through social media. During “Social Media One-Night Stand” panel, Sreenivasan showed us how to spread the word about our institutions and build a following by employing a few basic principles and digital tools. 

  1. Museums need a moonshot.

Museums have trouble proving it, but they’re essential to our society. They have the power to create social dialogue, increase education rates, and level the inequality field. In order to do that, they just have to remind themselves that they have a purpose and set out on a mission to reinject meaning into their everyday activities.

Talk by Robert Stein

 

  1. Big data shouldn’t be a scary word.

How do you rate a museum experience? How do you get to really know your visitors? By finding the right thermometers, that’s how. Through its Friends programe, the Dallas Museum of Arts has found a way to collect new and accurate data from its audience while giving back something to their visitors in exchange. Other museums have started using connected objects and I-Beacons, giving their audience an augmented visit experience and collecting knowledge about the visitors’ relation to the artworks.  All of the data collected can help institutions understand what their audiences expect from them, get to know their public better, and offer an improved visit of the museum.

Talks by Robert Stein and Micah Walter – Workshop by Kaspar Auzarejs-Auzers

 

  1. Look for your audience in the right places.

Museum audiences are growing more international everyday. In order to connect with these new audiences, institutions need to adapt to new cultures and the channels of communication that they bring. Don’t be afraid to go look for your audience in foreign places and adapt your language to them – it might take a lot of trial and error, like the Palace of Versailles on We Chat, but it will help you welcome your audiences better.

Talk by Elise Albenque

 

  1. What if the right app was… no app?

Although museums are all scrambling to set up the perfect phone and tablet apps, these tools are not always necessary. Not only are they expensive, hard to set up and quickly outdated, they’re often filled with unnecessary content and take up a lot of space on their users’ devices. Turns out most visitors only use these apps for very practical details such as opening times and calendars of the events. If you don’t want your app to be the first thing users delete on their iphones, keep it simple and focused on what your users really need.

Talk by Sree Sreenivasan

 

  1. Digital is not the opposite of physical

There’s no worry to be had: in no way does the digital experience of a museum replace the physical presence of the art. Digital platforms play two roles: they are gateways into the museum, giving audiences the desire and the impulse to visit institutions, and they are a way of introducing audiences to what is usually hidden from them (like the life of a museum after hours or the curation process).

Panel by Thibaut Thomas, featuring @ajakubowicz, @arambartholl, @attiliaff, @kuannyc – read the Storify here

 

  1. Museums are stuffed, not stuffy.

A lot of museums have chosen to interact with their audience through a new kind of content, using humor and just the right dose of self-mockery. In no way do those interactions degrade the institutions: on the contrary, they encourage an open dialogue with visitors and encourage deeper interactions. Be spontaneous, generous, open, and fearless!

Talks by Melanie Leroy-Terquem and Sree Sreenivasan

 

  1. You will fail on social media.

And that’s ok. Everyone messes up a tweet here or there, and when you publish 3000 a day, they can go unnoticed. Moreover, you can minimize the failures you will make by accepting that your team communicates better on some platforms than others. Choose your channels well and focus your efforts on quality, not quantity.

Talks by Sree Sreenivasan

 

  1. 3D printing isn’t the future anymore

It’s become the present. Allowing audiences to print, touch and play around with the artworks is creating a new relationship with museum collections. Instead of placing visitors in a passive and contemplative role, 3D printing gives them an active place and encourages to engage with the artworks and curate their visit themselves.

Talk by Chris Michaels, Workshop by Nikolaos Maniatis

 

  1. Tell stories. More stories.

Museum websites shouldn’t have to be all about practical details and event calendars. The example of Van Gogh Museum’s new website shows that digital storytelling is possible within the website and actually helps visitors preparing the visit. Focusing the website on the artist’s personal life, creating original and engaging content to reflect the way the museum is thought out increased visitor engagement, duration of the navigation time and conversion rates.

For the Warsaw Museum, the new website retracing the history of Warsaw opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. Combining powerful storytelling, efficient design and immersive experiences allowed for new and compelling ways to reach the museum’s audience and tell its story like never before. In these two examples, the precise and exclusive content used made the difference. Be unique if you want your story to be so!

Talks by Edith Shreurs and the Warsaw Museum Uprising

 

  1. We’ve been organizing all wrong

 

The way museums manage their communication departments is about to change. Traditional organization just doesn’t cut it anymore for communication departments in large institutions – the hierarchy system we’ve known until now doesn’t fit the speed and reactivity that social media demands. The social media managing can be managed by smaller teams or spread throughout the museum, each department handling a content channel that fits their activity best.

For more information about fragmented community management, you can read our previous article about Instagram at the Palace of Versailles here.

"Running the museum like a startup" - SREE SREENIVASAN, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chief Digital Officer (US)

"A Transverse Digital Strategy at the Jewish Museum Berlin" - Mirjam Wenzel, Jewish Museum Berlin, Head of Media (DE)

"A new website approach for a single-artist museum: focus on storytelling" - EDITH SCHREURS, Van Gogh Museum, Consultant Online Media (NL)

"Share the past, from History to Emotions" - EWELINA BAJAK, Warsaw Rising Museum, Project Manager (PL), KATARZYNA GRABOWSKA, Warsaw Rising Museum, External Exhibition Department , Head Specialist (PL), EWA PRZYBYLAK, BrightMedia, Co-Founder (PL)"

"Digital Transformation at The British Museum" - CHRIS MICHAELS, The British Museum, Head of Digital and Publishing (UK)

"There’s someone in the digital library: how Gallica won the heart of Gallicanautes" - MÉLANIE LEROY-TERQUEM, French National Library, Gallica Product Owner (FR)

"Be the best on Social Media: Tips and Tricks" - MAR DIXON, Social Media Museum Activist and Social Media Evangelist (UK)

"Re-Invent your museum" - SUZANNE MISSO, Queensland Museum, Creative producer and Mother of INVENTory (AU)

"3Details of Lodz – an example on how 3D printing was used in museum education" - MICHAŁ GRUDA, Museum of the City of Lodz, Education project manager (PL)

"Digital leadership and making change happen" - CAROLYN ROYSTON, Independent Digital Media Consultant (UK)

"Museums…So what?" - ROBERT STEIN, Dallas Museum of Art, Deputy Director (US)

"The Pen, the new Cooper Hewitt experience" - MICAH WALTER, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Digital & Emerging Media Department (US)

"Museums: after the Internet?" (Panel) - THIBAUT THOMAS, Communication Strategy and Digital PR (FR), ARAM BARTHOLL, Artist, curator (DE), ALEXIS JAKUBOWICZ, Fondation Galeries Lafayette, Head of Publications and new media (FR), CHRISTINE KUAN, Artsy, Chief Curator & Director of Strategic Partnerships (US), ATTILIA FATTORI FRANCHINI, Curator (UK), CAROLIN CLAUSNITZER, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Project Manager AOYS (DE)

"©©change your mind" - BARBARA FISCHER, Wikimedia.de, curator for cultural partnerships (DE), ELLEN EULER, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Deputy Director (DE)

"Getting ready for 3D printing, a few things to consider" - NIKOLAOS MANIATIS, Museotechniki Ltd. (GR/UK)

"iBeacons: a first step to connect physical & digital expositions" - KASPARS AUZAREJS-AUZERS, Accenture - iOS Mobile Devpt Team Lead (LV)

"Second Canvas workshop – What’s next for museum apps" - IÑAKI ARREDONDO, Madpixel, Co-founder (ES), KOLDO GARCIA, MadPixel, Co-founder & BizDev (ES)"

"Courbet Augmented" - ERIC JOUVENAUX, Musée d'Orsay, online content editor and community manager (FR)

"Museum Content Strategy" - CONXA RODÀ, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Head of Strategy and Innovation (ES)

"Pioneering WeChat by the Palace of Versailles" - ELISE ALBENQUE, Palace of Versailles, Marketing and Partnership Department Manager (FR)

"Charting the Course: Using data in the Museum to explore, innovate, and reach new audiences" - ROBERT STEIN, Dallas Museum of Art, Deputy Director (US)

We Are Museums 2014

State Ethnographic Museum and Zacheta-National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland)

5/6 June 2014

The second edition of We Are Museums conference gathered 26 outstanding art professionals who pondered about different ways technology can help museums grow.

Taking place in Warsaw, Poland, We Are Museums 2014 conference is organized in partnership with Orange Foundation, which endorses cultural education for young people. Realising that kids like to be active and participate in museum activities, the foundation has supported the development of many innovative tools and programs including educational mobile games, experiments, virtual maps, photography and 3D printing workshops to make museums engaging and fun. As for adults, social media has proven to be a powerful tool of engagement with both Juliusz Barwik from Museum of Warsaw and social media expert Mar Dixon emphasizing the importance of hashtags for better reach and interaction. But the online audience can do more than just enjoy museum collections, it can contribute to its creation. Jewish Museum Berlin, Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Europeana rely on donated items, uploaded documents, photos and recollections of two world wars to build its collection.

1. It’s up to you to convince the management to go digital 

Even today many people aren’t aware of all the benefits digital technologies can bring to museums. It’s up to digital experts to show the management and museum staff that new technologies are contributing to and not disrupting their mission. The management is expecting results from the digital transformation. That's why you have to measure the cultural impact achieved through the digital ecosystem and periodically present the results to your superiors to gain their support.

2.  Museums have to keep up with new technologies to remain relevant

Back in the days, most people used desktop computers for browsing the Internet. Nowadays they are increasingly turning to phones and tablets for quicker access. This change in human behaviour has caused changes in website designs. Designers today have to develop responsive museum websites that will offer the same experience on every device. And there are plenty of things that need adjusting - layout, zooming, scaling, orientation… As the digital ecosystem continues to develop, new challenges will undoubtedly arise. It is up to museums to keep up with these changes, if they want to retain a positive impact in the future.

3. Let children explore museums through fun and play

Cultural education should start at an early age. Interacting with cultural heritage can improve children's sensitivity and creativity. But many museums still lack programs suitable for kids and teenagers. Guided tours and audio guides often fail to meet expectations, as many kids prefer to explore art through interaction and exploration. That’s why museums are increasingly adopting new creative ways of educating the youth. Lazienki Palace is engaging kids through a multimedia library replica of the travel, while the Palace of Fontainebleau launched a tablet game that helps children explore its collection in a more relaxed, entertaining way. Museum treasure hunts, 3D modelling, experiments and workshops are also some of the innovative methods museums are employing to help bring cultural heritage closer to children.

4. Not all mobile apps are created equal

More and more museums are using mobile apps to attract and educate the public about their collection. But not all apps are equally well received by the end-user. According to our panellist Zuzanna Stanska from Polish Moiseum, there are 8 things you have to think through to ensure the success of mobile projects in museums: the app’s purpose, target group, how to fully use the device, testing, updates, promotion, picking the right project manager and legal issues about the rights to the code.

5.  Data is everywhere

Museum websites provide numerous information to visitors, but they also gather data from users who visit the site. Analytical tracking allows you to suck in the information from the visitors and obtain a deeper insight into how they use the site. Analytics can tell you what type of content people are searching for, how they use the search option, how they navigate the site and give you other information, that can help you redesign the museum’s site to make it more intuitive and user-friendly. 

6.  Museums can give memories new purpose and new meaning

Old artefacts and narratives can be placed into a contemporary frame to give us a better understanding of the world we live in today. Mirjam Wenzel from the Jewish Museum of Berlin, elaborated on how narratives about major migrations in the past can be revisited and reinterpreted, to reflect on the issues of migration that we are facing today. If they continuously reframe historical questions to reflect on the current problems in society, museums will always remain relevant and up-to-date.

7. The Internet lifts community participation to a global level

Future museums will be created through audience participation and contribution. Even today people around the world can contribute to digital collections by uploading their documents and photographs to specific multimedia platforms. These collections are built through people’s contributions and reinterpreted by professional scientists to provide additional information. POLIN museum’s website dedicated to ‘The Polish Righteous’, for example, is open for submission of photos and testimonies about the Holocaust in Poland.

8. Open access digital collections can help us build a more knowledgeable society

Images of artefacts, multimedia libraries and documents published under the Creative Commons (CC) licences, represent excellent learning materials. They can be easily accessed by the public, researchers and scholars, and subsequently, contribute to the creation of a more educated society. Open digital collections like Europeana provides us with an environment where researchers can compare data from various sources to get a different perspective on important historical eras or social issues.  

9.  Museum evaluations ensure greater visitor satisfaction

Visitors’ feedback is important. Every now and then, a museum should conduct audience research and evaluation to help improve the visitor experience. Indianapolis Museum of Art had been using surveys, interviews and observations to collect data from visitors and adapt their future activities to visitors' interests. Director of the museum’s Interpretation, Media and Evaluation department Silvia Filippini-Fantoni, showed us how they integrated the gathered feedback into various stages of exhibitions and projects planning to improve client satisfaction.

10.  Social media can be powerful tools (but only if you use them right)

With a constantly increasing number of users, social media channels have become powerful tools for building and reshaping the museums’ online image. In one of our how-to sessions, Juliusz Barwik from the Museum of Warsaw shared a few tricks on how to use Instagram to engage with the audience. For starters, try adding your Instagram address everywhere, joining groups and global hashtags (such as #ThrowbackThursday) and promoting your own hashtags.

Hashtags are a great way to increase public engagement on Twitter as well. Adding hashtags that entice communities to share their thoughts and experiences can help you find out more about your visitors and connect museums with the global audience. You just need to choose the right hashtags for the job. Mar Dixon, social media specialist discussed certain ways you can use hashtags, to promote museums and spark online communication between art lovers and art professionals including her very own invention, highly popular and widely used #MuseumSelfie hashtag. 

We Are Museums 2013

Contemporary Art Center (SMC) (Vilnius, Lithuania)

6/7 June 2013

We Are Museums 2013 conference has brought people who share a passion for art, innovation and culture to the dazzling city of Vilnius, Lithuania. The city’s diverse art community has inspired our very first edition that focuses on using digital transformation to make museums the engines of change.

Taking place in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania our very first edition of We Are Museums conference highlighted the importance of digital transformation and open access digital libraries. We had the pleasure of seeing how comprehensive the digital transformation of Tate, Imperial War Museums and National Gallery of Art in Vilnius were, composed of numerous elements including blogs, mobile apps, social media pages, open-access digital libraries… The desire to make their collection accessible to all propelled institutions like Rijksmuseum, and Lithuanian museums to open up their collections as well, while Europeana kickstarted a massive project that should make European cultural heritage available with a click of a button. Julien Dorra from Museomix and Samuel Bausson from Muséum De Toulouse reminded us about the importance of visitor input in the transformative process. If they want to remain relevant in the 21st century, museums have to gather feedback and ideas from their audience and adapt to people's altering needs.

  1. Museum staff should learn more about the digital to embrace it

 

Armed with new skills, museum staff members can now support the digital department and showcase their expertise both online and offline. Many people think that the museum’s digital presence should be managed solely by the digital department. But if you want the digital transformation to be successful, it has to involve all departments. To improve the digital capacity of its staff, the Imperial War Museums (UK) has established digital lunchtime sessions where staff can learn the basics - how to use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, how to make a video with their iPod or how to blog in WordPress. 

 

  1.   Turn museums into a playground for your community

The web has set new standards for creating, remixing, and sharing culture. People are no longer interested in just visiting museums - they want to use them, share their experiences and contribute to them. They want to participate and help museums develop. That’s why it's imperative for museums to become more open to audience participation and involvement. Emerging initiatives like Museomix enable visitors to participate in the development of museums. Museomix meetups, encourage people to reimagine museums by proposing changes that would make them more inviting and fun. 

 

  1.   Photography bans in museums are at odds with our time

It’s about time to put the practice of museum photography bans into the past where it belongs. When Musée d’Orsay in Paris decided to ban picture taking inside the building, the decision was met with strong opposition and disbelief. OrsayCommons initiative decided to fight back. It invited people to take pictures of the artefacts and publish them under the hashtag #OrsayCommons, thus creating an open-access online database. Embracing new participatory practices like photographing and posting, enables visitors to preserve the memory of their visit and share their experiences with others.    

 

  1.   Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone

Many museums make the mistake of only posting about their area of expertise (art, science, history…). But if you want to make the most out of social networks, you shouldn’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and post about other topics as well. Our panellist Mar Dixon, Founder of CultureThemes has shown us how you can use hashtags to join global movements like Movember. Every November, this movement asks men to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancer by growing moustaches. CultureThemes invited museum visitors and employees to do the same by posting images of artworks, artefacts, items or museum people with moustaches, accompanied by the hashtag #MusMovember. And the audience happily joined in, and embraced the opportunity to connect their love of museums and the battle for a good cause.

 

  1. Pinterest is hugely underrated

Although it doesn’t enjoy the popularity or Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest gathers more quality traffic and boosts user engagement better than any other network. Average time users spend on Pinterest is much longer than the time spent on Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest also has lower bounce rates and better average page depths (the number of pages viewed during one session). If you want to get more quality traffic, set up an account and start pinning! The more content you pin, the more you educate the public about your museum and future projects.

 

  1.   Also, Pinterest can do wonders for your SEO

Everybody knows that optimizing your website and using keywords can do wonders for your SEO. But did you know that Pinterest can get your museum on the front page of Google as well? It’s true. Optimized profiles with board titles and image descriptions can easily end up at the top of a Google search. Pinterest ranks particularly high on Google image search where posts from this social network often rank among the top few results. 

 

  1.   Mobile apps allow people to explore museums on their own 

Some people like to explore museums on their own, but even they need some guidance to make the most of the visit. Mobile apps can be perfect guides as they allow users to create a tailor-made path for themselves. Mobile apps, like the one created by the National Gallery of Art in Lithuania, let people choose the exhibition they want to see, audio guides them through the show, notifies them about upcoming events and provides the map of a gallery for easier orientation. 

 

  1.   The digitalisation helps you share national cultural heritage with the world

Online databases should go beyond preserving cultural heritage. They should make it easily shareable with the public as well. In Lithuania, for example, the LIMIS database was created with a mission of digitalising national museums’ valuables. It’s an open-access online platform that features a digital collection of artefacts and a simple search database for researchers interested in Lithuanian culture. Through digitalisation, LIMIS helps everyone discover Lithuanian cultural heritage from the comfort of their home. 

 

  1.   Digital can boost museum revenue

Digital transformation provides an array of new funding opportunities.  From setting up a museum eCommerce store to online ticket sales and crowdfunding campaigns – there are numerous ways you can use digital to increase your museum’s revenue. 

 

  1.   Museums should be more open to criticism

 Museums do an important job of preserving cultural, historical and scientific items for future generations. Due to the important role they are conducting, for centuries, museums were able to demand and receive automatic respect. However, in the 21st century, people are beginning to critically observe museums and offer their advice, about how they should transform to fit the modern lifestyle. The Creative Museum think-tank deals with critical observation of museums and offers suggestions on how to improve them. Turning to creativity and innovation to surprise visitors, loosening up rigid behaviour policy, and using panels to improve intercultural dialogue are just a few recommendations that can improve the visitor experience.

Opening Speech by Marc Sands, Tate (United Kingdom)

SECTION 1 - "A daily dose of museums: from experiencing to acting"

"The digitisation of Lithuanian Museum" -Donatas Saulevicius from LIMIS (Lithuania)

Neil Bates, Europeana (The Netherlands)

"The Digital Strategy of the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art" - Lolita Jablonskienė, National Gallery of Art (Lithuania)

Loic Tallon, Pocket Proof (France)

Martijn Pronk, Rijksmuseum (The Netherlands)

Julien Dorra, Museomix (France)

"Tumblr in Talks" - Jenna Brinning, Tumblr (Germany)

SECTION 2 - "Towards a more open museum: from spreading to sharing"

"Creating synergies within audiences and staff" - Don Undeen Metropolitan Museum of Art (United States)

"People are Museums" - Samuel Bausson, Muséum de Toulouse (France)

"Creating and sharing conversation online" - Mar Dixon, Social Media Consultant (United Kingdom)

"Let's build a Creative Session at home" - Ineta Zelča Sīmansone from Creative Museums (Latvia)

Carolyn Royston, Imperial War Museum (United Kingdom)