We’re very happy to announce that We Are Museums has just entered women-centric Paris Pionnières‘ pre-incubation programme and is now starting a 1,5 year journey towards a dramatic evolution of our project. We are mostly known for organizing events, but we never saw nor presented ourselves as an event agency. Our main motivation when we started We Are Museums was to activate synergies and to empower professionals in their careers.
We now need to open to new environments the way museums are opening up to new practices. Of course, We Are Museums- Events is NOT going anywhere and will remain the core of our identity and missions. We are now looking to enrich this experience. We have started to offer more content lately and we inform you daily on projects we love through Museum Trends.
During our trips we have met a number of startups looking for their business model and their big idea. We did act as bridge to museums for some of them. That is also where we may have realized that the growing intricacies between the startup and museum world oblige us to find new models to connect, inform and influence. So here we are, following the same path and ready to redefine everything about ourselves. This process will run alongside our current activities. This makes truly at the intersection of Culture and Innovation and we really hope our development will be one of our case studies in the near future.
Stay with us during our journey!
Our first publication is out and it opens the path for more in 2017! As a greeting for the New Year, we decided to look on the year past and select some especially marking moment for museums as we recorded them on our strategic monitoring blog Museum Trends.
For readers of Museum Trends, this shall not be a novelty, rather a newfound perspective beyond our yearly news coverage. We chose to highlight People to voice their own vision of the museum through their project and gathered our most read and marking interviews.
In the Museum trends Booklet, you will find all in one:
These talks shape re-shape the identity of a museum and what it is going to be in the years to come.
We hope to hear YOUR voice throughout 2017, in our Riga and Paris editions.
We Are Museums has been to Riga a total of 4 times in the past year, so it’s safe to say we are quite enamoured with Latvia’s capital. The past week saw We Are Museums meet all of its partners, explore museums, coworking spaces, contemporary art offering, healthy cafés and much more to prepare for our yearly event, this coming June 2017. A few highlights below!
Meet our venues
The Latvian National Museum of Art is a gem
Would we say it even though the LNMA was not our co-venue host and main organizer? Totally. We feel like regionally, the very recently restored and reopened museum in the very center of Riga got the attention it deserved but not so much internationally. And still…from the moment she saw it, our co-founder Diane branded it an ‘Instagram Museum’ as every bit of it is a piece of beauty and worth photographing. While segmenting its audiences, the LNMA discovered that lots of them are ‘experience seekers’, meaning that they have managed to reach well beyond the museum visitor spectrum. This window below even has its own Instagram hashtag!
Most importantly, the LNMA is a beautifully curated journey through classic, modern and contemporary Latvian art that is absolutely worth-seeing, all of its 4 floors, accompanied by their very well designed mobile app that lets you know all the restoration process details.
So with all of that, we are more than glad to announce that the LNMA will host We Are Museums’ workshop spaces for the event, because who would not want to brainstorm within these 4 walls?
The Art Academy of Latvia will be our main conference host
Speaking of which, meet our first art school venue! the direct neighbour of the LNMA, the Art Academy of Latvia is reminiscent of…every best Harry Potter’s fantasy? More seriously, The Art Academy of Latvia was founded in 1919 by one of the first Latvian professional painters and the first rector of the Academy Vilhelms Purvītis (1872-1945). The academy is both beautiful on the outside with its Neo-Gothic flair as it is on the outside with its rose-shaped Art Nouveau stained glasses. We’ll be hosted in the Academy’s main exhibition room, and we are going beyond the ‘white cube paradigm’ this year. Here’s to an edition constantly blending old and new.
Riga, a contemporary and creative hub in the making
Riga has seen its contemporary appeal take-off recently with the upcoming opening of the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art (LMCA), and the reinstallation of Kim?, which has questioned the very meaning of art since 2009. Kim? is now settled in bigger spaces and currently offers a great curation of Latvian young artists abroad on top of a very ambitious education and awareness programme. No doubt we will be speaking about their initiative more in the future!
A direct neighbour to Kim? is Tech Hub Riga, the local iteration of the famous Tech Hub brand that started in London. We were lucky enough to meet months ahead of We Are Museums and Museum Rocket and through Tech Hub discover events and venues that shape Riga’s startup and entrepreneurial scene. Since 2014, TechHub Riga has helped accelerate many regional startups through their facilities, network and collaborations. This is not the last time you will hear us talk about the work achieved at TechHub as we hope to be part of it, too!
Listening to Latvian museum professionals: Museum Tomorrow Latvia
A topic for another post, but let us also mention here the first meeting of Museum Tomorrow Latvia, an initiative we share with the LNMA and with the Museum Association of Latvia to initiate exchanges of good practices between museum professionals in Latvia. The first session took place on 5 October in Riga with LNMA, the National Literature and Music Museum and the Raina Tadenava Museum of Childhood presenting. With 50 people attending, the goal was to share experiences of successes (or not) focusing on making the museum more friendly and communicative towards its visitors and to brainstorm on the future museum vistor and worker. Next February and April we are traveling to Daugavpils and Kuldiga to promote the project and get to know however much we can about the current state of things in Latvia. This is our second regional attempt after Museum Think Tank Berlin and we hope it won’t be the last!
Further information on We Are Museums 2017 will be unveiled soon so in the meantime, we are happy to share a few bits on organisations and entities that (will) help make museums grow out of the box in every aspect. Share the love for Riga, readers!
Images: We Are Museums, TechHub Riga, Art Academy of Latvia, Ledlab, Lsm.lv
Riga and We Are Museums go way back, when we met Anna Balandina (here she is talking to the Museum Week!), Head of the Communication Department at the Latvian National Museum of Art back in 2015 in Berlin.
We have since discussed the opportunity to visit the capital of Latvia for our yearly event which is held each June.
We first visited in July, straight after We Are Museums Bucharest and made an astounding number of connections ranging from local authorities to exciting companies and startups. What about museums you ask? We had the opportunity to visit many of them back in late 2015 when we first worked with the LNMA on our first workshop dedicated to professionals. The museum scene is extremely keen to connect with their audiences and there has been an ongoing string of exciting openings and reopenings including the newly revamped LNMA, the Motor Museum and a little further down the road, the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art!
We went back in August to solidify the field work as we always do and now here is the plan for the rest of the year 2016-2017 leading up to We Are Museums, which will be next 12-14 June 2017!
> We will co-create Museums Tomorrow, Latvian museums think tank for the future of the community, and a sister project to Museum Think Tank Berlin, our founder Diane’s initiative to initiate conversations between innovators and museums in the Berlin ecosystem.
> We will then take Museums Tomorrow on the road across Latvia in February and April. Exciting!
> Next 12-13 is when we hold We Are Museums, our yearly meeting gathering a global community of museum millennials and deciders to meet and discuss the future of our ecosystem
>On 14 June we will hold the second edition of Museum Rocket, the museum and entrepreneurship fair which is dedicated to accelerate cooperation between young entrepreneurship and museums.
We have been a little tigh-lipped about the venues, but we now can tell you that we will be hosted at the stunning LNMA as well as at the Art Academy of Latvia! Plus hint: the Latvian thriving startup scene will be part of the mix!
Soon you’ll be able to register for We Are Museums and Museum Rocket as a single event, both through buying one standard delegate ticket or through our soon to be introduced membership system, which will give you many advantages on top of a discounted attendance to WAM.
It’s going to be our fifth year now, is there some special kind of celebration for that? Let us know!
In the meantime, we’ll be back soon with more news on the event and on our venue and destinations as we deepen our knowledge of Riga along with you guys!
We are proud to introduce Guestviews, the first recipient of the Museum Rocket Award! After a whole day of networking, keynotes and roundtables at the first edition of Museum Rocket, the culture and entrepreneurship fair, giving the award to this French startup founded by Camille Caubrière and Alizée Doumerc really was a high-point. They were chosen among all the amazing Museum Rocket startups by a jury headed by Martijn Pronk, Head of Digital and Publishing at the Rijksmuseum, and composed of Anca Nuta, Identity and Communication Director of our partner UniCredit Bank Romania, Kalam Ali, startups and innovation advisors at European Pioneers, and Diane Drubay and Claire Solery, respectively Founder and Director of We Are Museums.
The award rewards cultural entrepreneurs for the originality of their idea, the progress of their project, their potential and the quality of their pitch during the Museum Rocket pitch session.
When Alizée Doumerc and Camille Caubrière met, they soon discovered they both loved not only museums, but museum guestbooks, too. So they started looking for a smart way to use and analyze the data that a guestbook can offer to a museum. And that is the main idea behind Guestviews. Since 2013, Alizée and Camille leverage the visitors’ voice to understand their needs better and improve CRM and return rate.
How do they do that? Thanks to a fully customizable app that brings your guestbook to a tablet and allows visitors to answer your questions and leave their opinion. They already work with several major museums in France, Belgium, and soon in Switzerland. Maybe your museum is next!
To help you to know Alizée, Camille and Guestviews better and understand what being the first recipient of the Museum Rocket Award means to them, we asked them some questions. Read their answer to discover what they’re up to next.
WAM: Why did you decide to take part in Museum Rocket?
Guestviews: Because we like challenges! We often take part in French competitions, but we wanted to go further and test ourselves on an international level. What we liked about Museum Rocket is that it’s not only about startups, and not only about museums; it links both worlds together and shows that cultural entrepreneurs exist, too. We were also excited to meet cultural entrepreneurs from other countries and to benefit from advice given by top museum professionals from across Europe.
WAM: What was you biggest challenge as entrepreneurs in the cultural field and when did you know you were on the right track?
Guestviews: Our biggest challenge was to convince museums that our product was useful and could help them in their digital strategy. It hasn’t been easy, but things are starting to change: in the past years, we’ve had a lot of museums coming directly to us and wanting to implement the tool in their museums. We’d always known the product was useful, but this has confirmed what we thought!
We’re also starting to have more and more competitors – sure, that’s annoying, but it’s also the sign of a healthy business because it proves the idea is good and there is a real problem to solve.
WAM: Beyond the award, why was Museum Rocket a valuable experience for Guestviews?
Guestviews: It was incredibly enriching to talk with startups from other countries. We all work in the same field and with the same actors, and yet we’ve all come up with different ideas. It was helpful to talk about our work methods and to confront our visions of the years to come. It was also reassuring to see that we all face the same problems everywhere! We came back from Bucharest with a lot of new ideas and new perspectives.
WAM: What are the next steps to grow and develop Guestviews?
Guestviews: Big step ahead: we’re starting to expand abroad. We have been in Belgium for a few months already, and will be placing our first guestbook in Switzerland in September. We hope to keep on expanding in Europe and beyond.
We’re also starting to look at other markets: for instance our tool could easily adapt to the retail or hotel business. That’s a real challenge, because it implies adapting the guestbook to meet new needs and meeting a whole lot of new influencers in new sectors.
Since its inception in 1946, ICOM has been the representative institution for museums all over the world under UNESCO. Its mission is therefore to promote and protect our global heritage. It is only fitting that, as the institutions acting as the reference community for a staggering number of museums its definition of what exactly a museum is serves as a reference even nowadays.
Indeed, since it was introduced it was reworked several times to better fit the changing times in which museums exist. ICOM’s current vision of museums reads as such:
‘A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.’
It just so happens that last week We Are Museums were invited to speak at Viva Technology, Paris new go-to event for startups and innovation that drew 45 000 visitors in 3 days and that had over 400 talks (only 5 on culture-related matters!)
Our premise was that museums are the new incubators, meaning that they do not evolve ‘in accordance with the realities of the global museums community’ as ICOM proposes, but are increasingly actors of their own change and move organically with a much wider ecosystem than just museums that would be: innovators, geeks, designers, creative industries, startups and so on.
Paris, in this respect is somehow ideally positioned as a historical cultural landmark and a city that has widely invested in structures dedicated to innovation in the past years. So, we wanted to make the most of our participation to Viva Tech as museums representatives for a day and offer our own definition, or rather, our manifesto regarding museums. This is what we came up after quoting great examples of how museums and the world collide in wonderful ways:
‘A museum is an open to all, ever changing place, in the service of humanity, where curators act as keepers and transmitters of knowledge, culture and values that are shared with co-curators in innovative and inspiring ways, giving them insight into their past and present and informing their future self-development’
One can dream, right?
What about YOUR own way of seeing museums? Share it with us!
As we saw at the first edition of Museum Rocket, there are more and more amazing startups with great ideas and products directed at museums. Museum Rocket allowed them to meet, discuss their challenges and share their tips.
Here are some learnings that Don Undeen, founder of the Met Media Lab, Carsten Schmitt-Höppner from Fresh Museum, Camille Caubriere and Alizée Doumerc from Guestviews gave us during out first Museum Rocket panel about startups working with museums.
From their experience, you can learn how to face your challenges and make your path easier as a startup, and how you can help startups develop and work with you as a museum.
Some people in cultural institutions are really open to innovation, other are a bit wary, especially if innovation is brought by external people. They often fear that their jobs will disappear, easier replaced by tech or by startup folks. One of the first things you will have to do is reassure people by telling them that you are not here to take their place, but to give them tools that make their job easier. Show that you’ve done your homework by researching a bit to understand their issues, their specificity as a museum or cultural institution, and who your customers are – both museums and end customers.
Museums may not be the biggest risk takers and may still need to change their mindset to be more open to work with startups, but they definitely want to figure things out. This is where you can help. Show that you can help them embrace innovation and find what fits them best. Be their patient guide and answer their fears.
There are people who understand tech and work in museums. You need to find them, because they will support your project, or give you advice to reorient your product so it better fits their needs. It is essential for you to talk with and listen to them, they are your best sponsors.
Then, museums in the US (let’s hope this trend spreads to the world!) are creating third spaces : incubators, coworking spaces to be able to learn about innovation. What Don Undeen created, the Met Media Lab, was a place where people could create and innovate without needing approval. Those spaces are another way to have a foot in the door and start meeting people in the museum.
As a startup, you have to take up several challenges: the lack of money, time or a strong network can quickly become a big problem for a small company.
Money and time are challenges when you are still at an early stage, when you quickly need more than your own initial investment and need to sign new clients. To do so, mingle! Meet people at museum events, network, find the right Facebook or LinkedIn groups, chat with them on Twitter. According to Don Undeen, if you can’t name three people in the field you want to work in, you are not in yet. Also, don’t forget that startup ecosystems grow fast, you can also discuss your challenges with other startups (not necessarily in the cultural field), create your own events to invite museums to meet you and other startups… or attend the next Museum Rocket edition!
Museums are full of content, they started analyzing visitors data, they experiment with VR… They can be at the edge of innovation, and a form of competition between museums pushes them to be. This is where you, as a startup, bring a lot to the table. Indeed, it is hard for museums to innovate alone. They need you to find better ways to manage their content, know they audience, create meaningful one-of-a-kind experiences to be more attractive. Don’t miss that opportunity.
Why did you start your startup? Alizée and Camille started Guestviews because they love guestbooks and wanted a way to exploit visitors’ entries. Don created the MetMediaLab because he wanted to create a safe space where different actors could come and use the museum as a resource to feed their creativity. Even though your project may change, even though you may in the end solve a different problem than the one you used to, even though it may sometimes seem hard – even discouraging –, never lose sight of your purpose. It may be bringing content to the public in a different way, creating innovative experiences in museums or helping museums to make the most of their data. Your purpose is where your motivation and your drive start, so it is essentiel for you to carry on and be successful.
We are very pleased to announce that we will be giving a talk at one of France’s leading tech events, Viva technology, next 30 June.
Viva Technology gathers 30,000 entrepreneurs and creatives in all fields and we are very honored to be speaking on behalf of museums and innovation. We will be presenting what WAM is accomplishing as a startup as well as sketching the landscape of museums as new incubators.
We have 5 slides, 15 minutes and 2 people to convince you that yes, museums present an unparalleled opportunity for testing new ideas and advocate participation and collaboration.
As museum people who have attended our events over the years you might not need convincing. Conversely, as non-culture professionals, what museums have accomplished in the past decade might come as a bit of a shock. Come meet us on Stage #2 at 2: 20 pm and find out!
More info on the incredible line-up here.
They say someone is best defined by how others see it and maybe it is true as well for, say, an event. This year, as we close We Are Museums 16 edition which lasted 3 days for the first time, we received many comments on the openness and niceness those three days were infused with.
We then came back two more times before the proper event and it has been the occasion to solidify our connections to people there who have been instrumental in the success of WAM 16.
This year we also learnt how to devolve and trust for the first time, from our co-organizers and dedicated fundraisers, Dragos from RNMN and Sabina from ORICUM Association, to our universally appreciated moderator, Thibaut Thomas who took over the event for 2 days, staying pumped, happy and passionate about each and every story brought his way.
We received a lot of encouragement to keep our brand -casual, underdressed, exploratory, equalizing- intact and we will do that with a passion even though we keep growing, and now welcome inspiring Ministers of Culture like Mrs Corina Suteu who honoured us with a brief and enthusiastic speech on day 2 of the conference.
All events combined we gathered 350+ people this year at We Are Museums. We heard from 40 speakers spanning over two days and participants in the room came from a whopping 18 countries. Applaud yourselves if you were there!
Keep an eye on much material coming soon: our videos from the two events, our selection of the best tweets (not an easy task) and our incoming photos!
Our many thanks for these wonderful two days also go to:
The Ministry of Culture of Romania
Our sponsors: Unicredit Bank Romania, supporter of the 1st Museum Rocket Award and ARCUB, the Muncipal center of the City of Bucharest
Our supporters: The National Cultural Funds, the Romanian Cultural Institute and Vastari
Our hosting venues, the National Museum of Contemporary Art and its wonderful staff, ARCUB and the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and its Director Virgil Nitulescu for a great night and The Ark.
The cultural institutes and representations abroad :
The Institut Français for their incredible support, the Polish Institute, the British Council, the Goethe Institute, the Embassy of the Netherlands.
NEMO, the Network of European Museum Organisations
The Bubbles Company, The Galeries Lafayette, Uber Romania, Bucharest Gentleman
Fablab Bucharest for designing our beautiful prize, Unicat, RFI Romania and Radio Romania International for the great interviews.
Nona Beicu for her great help on Museum Rocket!
And everyone who was a part of the success of We Are Museums and Museum Rocket this year.
This year, we’re adding a third day to We Are Museums! After giving museum experts the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and best practices, we’re connecting them with startups from the cultural field.
From augmented reality to smart pocket guides and from 3D modelling and printing to analysis and CRM tools, we selected the 18 of most creative and innovative startups to introduce their solutions and help you imagine how they can be put to good use in your institution. For a whole day, Museum Rocket will allow museum professionals to test and touch the products and apps offered young entrepreneurs from all over Europe, with a focus on Romania to nurture a budding local ecosystem of startups.
Taking place on June 8th at the Ark, it is the perfect occasion to get in touch with small businesses that can help your museum achieve its goals. Each one of them will deliver a 3-minute pitch and professionals from the Rijksmuseum and the Tate will give you some perspective about how they actually work with startups. The startup with the biggest potential will be awarded the very first Museum Rocket Prize.
Supported by Unicredit Bank and ARCUB and co-organized with ORICUM, a Romanian NGO facilitating the empowerment of regional creative industries and by the National Network of Romanian Museums, Museum Rocket is the place to be to meet entrepreneurs and have ideas that will reinvent tomorrow’s museums, register now!