A couple of months  ago, #dayoffacts encouraged cultural institutions – museums, libraries, universities… – to share actual facts about climate change, human rights, gender equality against a backdrop continued political controversy and unrest. The initiative, even though it is declared as not political, clearly aimed to fight against the rise of “alternative facts”, reality-twisting lies that have achieved mainstream visibility in the latest US presidential race and in the first weeks of the Donald Trump presidency.

Mara Kurlandsky and Alli Hartley, who are behind Day Of Facts, have successfully brought together major institutions like the Getty and the American Museum of Natural History, as well as smaller ones from all over the world – and some institutions are still using the hashtag #dayoffacts to share gifs, videos and pictures, the best of it being collected in this Storify.

After this first Day Of Facts and before we celebrate Earth Day with marches and teach-ins, we took time to speak with Mara Kurlandsky who looks back at the duo’s project, next initiatives in museum activism and how it feels to have your hashtag reused by the very content you are fighting against.

More empowered, emboldened museums are reaffirming their mission statement

Kurlandsky did consider #dayoffcats a success as it emboldened publicly-funded institutions to raise their voice: ‘we saw tons of institutions sharing facts about climate change, stories about immigrants and refugees in their own communities and in history, artists that are working with “controversial topics,” primary source documentation about racism and slavery, stories about projects funded by federal agencies that expand access to science and art education to low-income communities.’, she recalls.

Institutions within and outside the US did successfully merge the concept with their own message, thus showing the need for a platform in the “post-fact” world, which signals a likely evolution towards more affirmation of the role of museums and knowledge-based institutions as fact-checkers and providers.

‘It was wonderful to see how different organizations embraced the concept and really made it their own, especially science organizations and libraries. For example, the Field Museum created a wonderful video with around 40 staff members, the European science organization Ecsite devoted a whole online magazine issue to communicating about science (…) and many libraries created guides and resources about how to find reliable sources and navigate information overload. In that sense, it was extremely successful, because they used #DayofFacts as a framework that organizations could use to authentically communicate their own mission.’

Artist Willem de Kooning was an illegal immigrant. Find out about art by immigrants in our collection: https://t.co/qza7tQ6xHS. #dayoffacts pic.twitter.com/PaSeZKFheB

— Georgia MuseumofArt (@GMOA) 17 février 2017

Neutrality, not an option anymore

Ironically enough, #dayoffacts” was used by alternative facts providers on Twitter, but that can only be good, right?

I’ll take it as a measure of success that the museums and institutions posted enough early in the day to get the tag trending, enough that lots of people started using it in ways we hadn’t intended. I’m not going to lie, it was hard going through all the tweets the day after and weeding out the bad ones—as you pointed out, many of the tweets were the exact kind of content we were trying to fight against, like conspiracy theories and really negative rhetoric. But given that the word “facts” has become politicized, I suppose it was inevitable.’

As for the future of #DayOfFacts, Kurlandsky and Hartley will have to give it some good thinking from the gathered experience and data of past February and continuing. However they do see #DayOfFacts as a very timely event.  This maybe because being a part of the ongoing dialogue is not, in this time and age, an option anymore for museums.

‘we have a lot of contacts for  enthusiastic organizations that we can call on for other actions. Alli and I have both been inspired by many different people who have been pushing museums towards being more social justice oriented, and we’re hoping to link the energy for #DayofFacts into work that’s already been done. For me, I would like to push beyond making facts the focus and into enabling museums to take more bold positions about issues that directly affect our visitors. I know a lot of museums have been holding panel discussions or events to talk about current events. Two recent examples: the Hammer Museum held an event about getting involved in activism, and the Brooklyn Museum held a panel to educate about immigrant rights, that I believe was attended by around 500 people. I’d love to see more of that. The next few years may get really scary for a lot of people, and I don’t think neutrality is an option anymore, for individuals or for institutions.’

After a few weeks of both articles wondering if the Met Museum was in decline and an article by Thomas P. Campbell reminding the importance of funding the arts, a big news shook up the museum world: Thomas P. Campbell, director of the largest museum in New York for 8 years, has resigned at the end of February. His resignation was announced after the stepping down of several senior staff members of the Met.
The main reason for this wave of departures and resignations seems to be financial: While the museum’s attendance has broken records during the last couple of years, Thomas P. Campbell leaves the museum with a multi-million deficit, partly caused by the opening of Met Breuer, a settlement around the admission charge, an expensive yet criticised change of logo and the decline of retail revenue.

But beyond the strictly financial management, some critics seem to believe a wider strategy issue is at stake. As the audience for arts is changing and needs museums to adapt to them, did the Met try hard enough? On a digital level, it did launch the successful Met MediaLab in 2013 and it used to be a space for museum staff, artists, students and other outside players to meet around tech and innovative project. The Met MediaLab is still considered a model experience in the museum field but closed at the end of September 2016. Then again, projects like the Met Museum app may not have been fully embraced by audiences (the app has 50,000 downloads on Android, which seems low compared to the more than 6 million annual visitors of the museum). Last month, the Met released its digitised artwork collection in a dedicated platform and make public domain artifacts free to use, but with no clear strategy or incentives for people to use and reuse the content.
Those projects are both obvious steps for a museum as big as the Met, but they still require guidance and direction to fit properly in the museum’s overall strategy and be presented to the audience as something bringing real added values to their on-site or online experience – which may not have been the case at the Met.
One reason for this may be the Met Museum decided to really invest in digital projects a bit late. Maybe even too late to stay on top of the trend and make digital and innovation into a real strong point of the museum’s strategy.

As a museum professional or a museum lover, you are probably deeply convinced that bringing teens into museums is a great opportunity to broaden their mind, help them empathise with other culture, and of course build a long-lasting relationship with museums. But no comprehensive study had been conducted about the benefits of teen programs in art museums.

For several years, a range of major museums across the United States – the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles – have been studying effects of their teen programs, each one of them bringing diverse youth together with artists and museum staff around tailored activities and events.

Thanks to its length, the study Room to Rise has followed young people during several years to understand the short-term and long-term impact of museums, from right after the programs until their adult life. If you have ever wondered if teens really bring something home from their museum visit, the answer is yes. Even a single visit or field trip increases the ability to think critically about art and to understand how people from other time periods and world regions lived.
Of course, welcoming teens in museum also has effects on their own lives, in the way they build their own identity and self-awareness, the way their imagine their future and their career – with lower drop-out rates for example, the way they are engaged in their community.

In a time when the political role of museums is clearly reinvented, it is interesting to see that museums can actually shape future citizens of the world by finding the right way to engage with them – and that is also a way to build their own sustainability, through ensuring a lifelong relationship to museums and a worldview grounded in art, and even turning these teens into future museum professionals.
Museums are not only actors of their community, they can get young people to become (future) members of their community and neighbourhood.
But what makes a successful teen program? It can be an Art Party around a current exhibition as at the NGV, a collaborative art lab like at the SMK or even a program specifically aimed to LGBTQ youth as the one set up by MoMA.

For the Getty, success is as much about learning to make connections between artworks and between art and their own reality as it is about making the museum accessible. Indeed, when the cost of transportation is the first obstacle preventing a field trip, it is important to find a way to get the students physically inside of the museum.
Obstacles and expectations for the schools of your area may be different, but they need to be truly taken into account: each community has their own needs and specificities, don’t hesitate to both survey the teachers and the students to understand how you can build an offer that is really relevant and can echo their own experience. Providing a really compelling experience – like the also is a way to turn students into ambassadors of your museum in their own family, making them come back with their parents to share bits of what they saw and felt, or on their own to explore further, and maybe far enough to one day join your teams.

Museums and other cultural institutions share knowledge, open inclusive dialogues and make us to meet the world by showing how its otherness can enrich every single one of us. While these tasks have been traditionally fulfilled with layers of mediation and distance that allowed museums to step back and put current events in a broader historical context, their involvement definitely took a different turn in the past weeks, as exceptional times call for exceptional measures.

On many levels, the US presidential campaign has been unique and so have the very first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency. Threats on women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, Muslim ban, tweets about everything from Meryl Streep to the US-Mexican Border Wall, plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, repeal of the affordable care act and, of course, the rise of fake news and alternative facts.
In all this craziness, American museums and cultural institutions have chosen to focus on their core missions and foster inclusiveness, raising from soft power to counterpower.

On inauguration day, the Museum of the Moving Image launched Shia LaBeouf’s performance and installation “He Will Not Divide Us” right outside the museum. While the performance was supposed to last four years, inviting passersby to engage and everyone on the internet to watch, the installation was closed last Friday because it had become “a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent” but is still considered by the museum as a successful “engaging and thought-provoking digital art installation”.
Although the installation was designed in advance (but over the course of two months, which can already seem short for a lot of museums), Donald Trump has also triggered very spontaneous reactions from the cultural world.

NYC: know your rights! We’re hosting a day of info sessions w/ lawyers & activists. Drop-ins welcome! #BodyPolitic https://t.co/LfcacGj9VN pic.twitter.com/WcOxeaBORx

— New Museum (@newmuseum) 5 février 2017

In the same effort to include everyone in the protest and be at its center, the New Museum has launched an event called “Body Politic” that gathers artists, activists, lawyers around the issues at risk: healthcare, prisons, immigrations, the environment, indigenous rights… The session that took place at the beginning at February was not just a discussion about rights, it was an open conversation about civil disobedience, protest and related legal issues. A way to push the museum crowd to get involved in the protest or at least think about how to get involved and for which causes.

But performance and conversation are not the only way for museums to speak up their mind and collections have become a battleground as well. A week after the executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim countries to enter the United States, three MoMA curators and an assistant curator decided to join the protest it sparked off by replacing some exhibited artworks by contemporary art by artists from Iran, Iraq and Sudan – three of the seven countries targeted by the ban – and a work from a Syrian artist has been added to the film program. If choosing masterpieces that would be taken down to free up space was no easy task, the newly exhibited artwork has been selected to be culturally impactful and representative and still fit well within the galleries, creating parallels with artworks that were already in the exhibition space. This quickly decided step shows how art opens a conversation and builds bridges between cultures, mirroring the idea of American melting pot in which every culture can be embraced.

As History is unrolling in front of us, the conservation and hanging of already acquired artwork is not enough for some museums and libraries. Some have highlighted book selections that allow a better understanding of different cultures (and especially Islam) and have also decided to fulfill their role of collecting testimonies of History by crowdsourcing objects used during protest like the Women’s march, which include protest signs and banners, badges, pins, videos, pictures. Curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History even have enough objects from the D.C. Women’s march to add to the exhibition about historic marches in “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”.

Marching this weekend? We’re collecting #ephemera as part of a living archive of modern protest! DM us for details. #womensmarch pic.twitter.com/xURxTsnz6d

— Newberry Library (@NewberryLibrary) 20 janvier 2017

And as no modern-day protest would be complete without a bit of social media, museums and other public sources of knowledge will be taking part in a #DayOfFacts on February 17th. In a dynamic similar to the one of rogue accounts of Federal agencies and of the hashtag #MuseumsAndSocialJustice, any museum, library, archive, science center… in the world can join this one of a kind occasion to fight alternative facts on social media, where they are usually spread. The event is not meant to take an “overt political stand” but simply invites institutions to carry out their sharing mission with content about their collection or staff that is “relevant to this particular moment in American history”, in which actively sharing truths about refugees, the environment and Civil rights – among other subjects – can be considered resistance.

Cultural institutions are not used to act that fast with such a big impact on their exhibitions, schedule or collections. Should they step back or should they keep getting involved? Is it their place to almost instantly mirror society (and probably the views of their visitors, judging by the frequentation of the exhibitions and events) or should they take a step back and imagine a way to work as usual? Would it be too late?

Then again, if museums don’t get involved, who will? They are already involved in the political debate against their will through the plan to defund the National Endowment for the Arts (which would also have consequences on non-state funding, as donation could be no longer be tax-deductible). Maybe joining and helping protests is just a way of highlighting the need for all the targets and potential targets of Donald Trump’s policies to show a united front. Maybe it is just a way of fulfilling their mission of social players and strongly reconnecting with their communities in a time when some of their values seem under threat.

Museums are entering an era of deep change in their physicality. Meant to elevate our spirit, educate us and teach about history, they are becoming economic agents of our society and ACMIX is one of the most relevant and newest examples, of a “next generation creative hub”. Last May 2016, the Australian Center of Moving Image of Melbourne launched a huge co-working space open to the public fully attached to ACMI offices to facilitate creative and innovative cooperations.

We interviewed Katrina Sedgwick, CEO and Director of the ACMI and proud mother of the ACMIX.


      1.        One of the aim of ACMI X is to become a fertile ground for creativity, but gathering people isn’t always enough to connect. How do you help them really mingle and build a community?

Its not enough just to create proximity between people – particularly of different disciplines where the synergies may not be immediately obvious. We have consciously invited practitioners and businesses in that have a range of practice and output to encourage cross disciplinary conversation, to help peers to inspire each other to think about new approaches and new ways of working – and potentially to foster new collaboration.

At ACMI X we have a number of ways to find connections – not only between the tenants in the co-working space, but between the 80 ACMI staff and the 10 staff from the National Film & Sound Archive’s Melbourne office which also co-locates with us. We have dedicated significant space to create a social space – it houses a well appointed kitchen (with excellent coffee machine) and a light bright area where people use for their meetings but also for having their lunch. Its has the obligatory ping pong table and some arcade video games, and also doubles as an events space, for up to 120 people.

In this space we program meet ups, show and tell sessions from ACMI X tenants, expert speakers and panellists (this week we have Julia Kaganskiy for an in conversation from New Inc), we work with a range of other partner organisations which also use the space. Interestingly the co-workers have been most consistently engaged with the skills development sessions we run – across rights issues, legal and financial systems and structures etc. That how to stuff is so important – be they are theatre company or an app developer or a youtube aggregator.

Another very important aspect of the co-working space is the partnerships with two universities – University of Melbourne and RMIT. Both institutions have taken 6 desks each – the former through their Arts & Humanities faculty, the second through Media and Design. We are in the very early stages of the partnerships, but the vision is to a) enable university students and staff to develop connection with ACMI and industry in very direct ways but b) to develop collaborative research projects over time, not only with ACMI but with practitioners.

credit Andrew McColl

credit Andrew McColl

Credit Andrew McColl

Credit Andrew McColl


  1.       How do you involve curators and other ACMI staff at ACMI X?

Importantly ACMI X houses all of us together – 150 people all up – and the co-working space is part of our space, and not separated in any way. So we sit near each other every day, and talk whilst making coffee.

We are finding lots of opportunity for collaboration and this is happening quite organically. Most of the businesses or practitioners we house relate in some way to the moving image industries and therefore cross over with the work we do every day – indeed that was part of why we set up the co-working space! So recently we presented a VR day as part of Melbourne International Games Week  – both VR focussed resident companies (VRTOV and Jumpgate VR) participated in talks and were able to showcase their work. On October 31 we launched our most recent commission – an adaptation of a digital theatre piece Ghost Toasts and Things Unsaid into a VR installation piece – by Sandpit (based at ACMI X) with Grumpy Sailor and Google Creative. https://www.acmi.net.au/exhibitions/ghost-toast-and-things-unsaid/

The Interaction Consortium are working on the backend of our new website, with their excellent product GLAMkit. Little Big Shots, a children film festival, is based at ACMI X and they have long been a festival we partner with and present in our cinemas.

Credit Andrew McColl

Credit Andrew McColl

  1.       Is having the brains of the future of moving image in your walls initiating new collections or exhibitions opportunities?

Yes it is – we opened the co-working space in May and by October had presented our first commission. And that will continue with ACMI X members feeding into our curatorial processes as required.


Credit Andrew McColl

  1.       What are your 5 takeaways you can share with our museum community to be able to open a successful co-working space in a museum?

Be open and share. There was some initial reluctance to have the co-workers in the same secure space as all of us – but having our co-workers so readily nearby as our staff is already bringing wonderful benefits to everyone and creating connection that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Resource it properly – it has to be adequately staffed as a project like this not only requires substantial administration but needs a dynamic creative producer focus to enable and leverage the connections and opportunities of the space. Ensure you set up a sustainable financial model that can pay for a great person to drive the show

There are numerous successful models – and ours is still evolving. ACMI X is a co-working space with an associated industry program, Mahuki at TePapa is much more of a project driven incubator/lab based model as is New Inc at the New Museum. We are looking at developing a short term lab project alongside the ongoing co-working space – and will continue to evolve the project – but there is lots of potential funding available as governments understand the importance of the small to medium sector and the value of ‘creative tech’ in the start-up space…

Why are you doing it? It’s important to be clear why you are doing it – and that philosophy will then drive the way you set up the project and how you connect it into your organisations on a daily basis but also how you connect it to you audience. For ACMI, a relatively young museum, we want to build a community of ‘ownership’ across the moving image industries, we want to leverage our substantial resources back into the sector, we want to illuminate the process of creation and development for our audiences, and as a State funded museum we want to align to the broader context the government’s strategies.

Make it a beautiful space to be in – that has been vital for our staff and for our tenants. Six Degrees Architects have done a wonderful job, and it’s a great space to work in that is permeable and open, yet highly focussed and productive.

Credit Andrew McColl

Credit Andrew McColl

And to go deeper in your understanding of creative spaces in museums, register to our webinar “Makers + Museums = Love” next 9 December at 6PM (GMT+1)!

Well, this was a bit of a low-key information, but nonetheless exciting! The United Nations has announced the creation of the UN Live Museum for Humanity. The project is spearheaded by UN veteran of the Office for Project Services Jan Mattson, who will run the museum together with entrepreneur Henrik Skovby and none other than Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. No doubt this is not the first time a renowned artist will serve at the board of a museum, but the UN Live Museum is moving into a new direction.


UN Live website

Conceived as a ‘global museum’, it will exist as a physical museum, which is currently under construction in Copenhagen, a network of UN Live hubs throughout the world and an open digital platform.

With the main aim to educate and create a better understanding of the UN’s activities across the globe and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the museum will share stories from UN workers and the people affected by crises in real time to create exhibitions based on interaction and learning.

The content and design has been created by Eliasson together with a team of people from UNESCO, the UN Office in Geneva, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Olympic Museum and prominent universities, including Columbia University and the Alle School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa. Needless to say that this is a considerable amount of input from Eliasson as far as shaping the project goes.


Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing, Place du Panthéon, Paris, 2015. Photo: Martin Argyroglo © 2015 Olafur Eliasson.

Eliasson is hardly an odd choice, as he is known for large scale installations such as The Weather Project in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, The New York City Waterfalls in the East River and, most recently, his intervention in the famous gardens of the Palace of Versailles. His installation work centres on perception and embeds social and environmental issues in the viewing experience. For the very conscious and engaged Ice Watch, he brought 80 tonnes of melted Greenland ice to Copenhagen in 2014 and Paris in 2015 for the COP21 climate conference.

Once collected, kept and exhibited, artists have developed and complexified their relationship to museums in significant ways. Artists have for long run their own spaces where they create, exhibit and sometimes sell their work outside traditional public and private institutions. But recently there has been an increased involvement of artists on the institutional level, as exemplified by Nicholas Serota’s artist-centred strategy for Tate, where artists are actively asked what they would like in a museum. Just a few days ago, the Internet Age Media platform reported on their collaboration with Tate Collectives, (random) co:jams, a series of agile and creative sessions which heavily featured artists, along with technologists and young people to try and repurpose the museum of the future.

For over a decade now, museums have given artists a carte blanche to create site-specific interventions. The Monumenta exhibition series at the Grand Palais in Paris has seen superstar artists such as Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and Huang Yong Ping present installations in the grand hall, and the likes of Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Eliasson have created works for the Versailles Palace’s famous gardens. Turner-prize winner Grayson Perry scoured the collections of the British Museum for his 2010 exhibition, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.


Takashi Murakami in Versailles

On a more practical level, artists run workshops and educational programmes in museums. SFMOMA presented the Artist Initiative in 2014 with Ellsworth Kelly, Vija Celmins and Julia Scher as a collaborative and interdisciplinary research series, uniting curators, conservators, and art historians to pioneer new practices about the treatment contemporary art.


SFMOMA website

Many cultural spaces and museums, both private and public, also already have artists involved as board members, but Eliasson’s appointment to a prominent executive role at the UN Live Museum marks a change in the dynamics of artists at these institutions.

With an artistic practice emphasising direct experience and engagement, Eliasson brings his artistic strategies for tackling contemporary social and environmental issues to the museum. What we are seeing is the adoption of creative practices to the sphere of the executive in a non-art museum that emphasises the importance of immediacy to facilitate learning and create a collective understanding.

Eliasson has also become influential outside the sphere of art. He launched his social business Little Sun in 2012 and in 2015 he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos and participated in the COP21 climate conference. He also has a remarkable social media following with more than 200K followers across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. With the direct communication between artist and audience offered by these platforms, Eliasson has emerged as an influencer and activist in his own right.

Artists are increasingly seen as creative professionals and influencers, making them an interesting and important recruitment for museums to shape their spaces and reach audiences. The appointment of Eliasson should not go unnoticed as it may well set a new precedent in the so far extremely fruitful relationship between artists and museums.

Meet Acclimatize, the Moderna Museet participatory platform for renowned and climate conscious artists to help change minds, and for users to submit their own works on climate change. Ylva Hillström, Curator Education at the Moderna Museet helps us shed light on the belief behind the project.

Climate change is both a trendy and hotly debated subject. How does Acclimatize contribute meaning to the topic with an artistic perspective?

A lot of the debate is focused around numbers and graphs. How many more degrees can the earth tolerate, how many polar bears risk extinction, how fast are the polar caps melting, and so on. To make us all fully understand the consequences of these facts, we believe that art and creativity can play a vital role. It can inspire change and action. Acclimatize invites people to use their creativity to express their thoughts and feelings around this topic. It is our experience that people feel empowered when they express themselves creatively, and in order to stop climate change we do desperately need to act and not despair. Olafur Eliasson talks in his interview for the Acclimatize site about Ice Watch, an art installation that he made for COP 21 in Paris. He placed twelve blocks of arctic ice in the middle of Paris, so that people could touch the ice and physically experience the ice melting away. He suggests that when you have a personal, tangible experience of something, it sinks in in a different way than if you just read or hear about it. We believe that Acclimatize will allow people to touch climate change, figuratively speaking.

Acclimatize is very shelf limited project; why make it so short?

Well, we have planned for it to be live for two months, but are now considering to extend it with one extra month. We regard the site as a digital exhibition, and exhibitions usually are limited in time. It is of course also a question of resources, since it is quite a lot of work to manage this growing think tank on a daily basis. However, when the site closes and no more entries can be uploaded, it will still be open for viewing for at least one more year. We want it to be think tank that will keep inspiring change.

No One Notice, 2016. En film av: Adele Kosman & Hanna Westerling Kostym: Hanna Westerling & Helena Ekström

No One Notice, 2016. En film av: Adele Kosman & Hanna Westerling Kostym: Hanna Westerling & Helena Ekström

How will the content gathered on the Acclimatize platform be communicated to a more mainstream audience?

Since it is a digital project, we believe that social media will play a crucial role in spreading the content. If people who upload contributions also share their entries on social media and tag #acclimatize, we think that we will reach a broad audience. In fact, we already see the effects of this.

Everybody is welcome to take part, not only people who are working with art or in other creative fields. For example, we reach out to preschools and schools and hope to see more contributions from young makers in the time to come. Also, since Acclimatize is about both creativity and climate change, it has the potential of reaching both  people who are interested in art but not necessarily in sustainability issues, and vice versa.


 How heavily are featured artists some of them really famous and influential, involved in the project conception?

We contacted these amazingly creative people and told them about the project. They were all very enthusiastic and agreed to be part of the project through the filmed interviews heading the site. The same thing goes for the contributors to the Journal section of the site, we contacted them and asked them if they wanted to write about climate change and sustainability from their respective professional fields. We have met a lot of positive response from the all the people we have been in touch with.

Thank you to the Moderna Museet!

A museum’s collection is made of both tangible objects and knowledge and is meant to be seen and shared with the museum’s audience. If museum labels often show where an exhibit is lent from – and sometimes to which museum it is lent to – very few museums give their audience a comprehensive resource of where their exhibits travel outside of their own venue.
Among the biggest exhibit and knowledge lenders, the British Museum has a key place. With some 8 million works and some of the leading British experts in various fields, it regularly shares its assets with visitors of museums and galleries across the UK, so much that is actually lends more objects that any other museum in the world.

The sharing of collections with a huge ecosystem makes the British Museum a true museum dedicated to British citizen. And Museum of the Citizen actually is the name of a project carried out by the Museum for a year until last March.


It shows how the British museum is a resource for citizens who cannot come and physically visit it, and not only by lending objects like the super popular Sikh fortress turban. Of course, it has been digitally sharing information in various forms with the public: by crowdsourcing a reconstruction of the museum in Minecraft, by creating 3D models of more than one hundred exhibits, by partaking in a BBC podcast series and by making exhibitions and a geographical timeline of its exhibits with the Google Institute.

But besides sharing with a wide audience, the museum has also become a real resource for professionals through a Knowledge exchange programme.
What it’s in it for the British museum, you ask? Well, there is only so much you can do and that much you can thrive within your own walls. Having a network of partners allows to both show collections that would stay hidden because of the lack of shelf space and help your curators grow by working with fellow curators from other institutions.

Gathering all those initiatives on one page also is a way to show that they are all connected. They were launched separately and for different audiences – gamers, professionals, visitors from other museums, makers… – but are all part of the same impulse to spread the assets of the British Museum.

To go even further in promoting the network that is built around the British, it would be interesting to have access to a map of British Museum loans across the United Kingdom (or the world), to the history of loans of a given object or to a calendar of current speeches and conferences by experts from the British Museum.

And because all major museums are big lenders, it would be both great to see them share want they lend… and well as to see smaller museums show what they borrow.

From 10-12 November 2016 NEMO – the Network of European Museum Organisations, our long standing partner since the first edition of We Are Museums – is holding its 24th Annual Conference “Money Matters: The Economic Value of Museums” in Karlsruhe, Germany.

NEMO acts as a voice and network for over 30.000 museums and museum organisations throughout Europe providing them with information, networking and opportunities for cooperation and promoting their work and value to policy makers in Europe. The conference will explore the economic dimension of museums by looking at business models for museums that can lower financial dependency from public funding on the one hand and examining museum’s positive spill-over effects on different parts of society on the other.
In the wide spectrum of the economic value of museums, such as cultural tourism, job creation, regional competitiveness and development, cooperation and the creative industries, it will be discussed how museums in Europe can best open up to the manifold opportunities and engage in cooperation with other sectors.


In two panels, speakers will share best practice initiatives, examples, studies and strategic approaches showing the economic impact of museums, cooperation and partnerships, among them Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association (UK) and Christoph Kremer, head of the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria. This year, Paul Spies, who recently became chief curator at the Humboldt Forum Berlin, will be interviewed by our executive board member Sofia Tsilidou from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. As always, on day two, a series of workshops offer hands-on activities to enable museum professionals to become active partners in and for the creative sector.
Participants will also have the opportunity to attend the meetings of NEMO’s Working Groups and join the talks by their guest speakers, as well as get to know the city of Karlsruhe during city and museum tours.
The programme of talks, workshops, meetings and cultural activities will bring together museum people from over 25 countries and connect them to the creative and economic sector, the EU and national policy makers.
If you want to connect to your European museum peers and relate to EU initiatives, programmes and policies, discuss with us at Karlsruhe Palace, home to the Badisches Landesmuseum since 1919!

This year, museum professionals who are members of an organization that is a member of NEMO or are members of We Are Museums receive a 20% discount on the registration fee!
Registration is open until 4 November 2016.
Find out more about the conference at http://www.ne-mo.org/about-us/ac2016.html or by following #moneymatters and #NEMOac16 on Facebook and Twitter!

The new Tate Modern building has been talked about a lot. Completing the original Boiler House, the Switch House has been designed by Herzog and de Meuron to show how art has become more “active” in the past century. It displays art that has been questioning the traditional relationship between artist, audience and artwork for the last 60 years and gets visitors truly involved in artworks through interactive creations. But beyond interaction between art and visitors, the Switch House also offers visitors, groups, visual arts professionals and staff two floors to learn and research about contemporary art.
Named Tate Exchange, this two-floor creative space is completed with a programme that starts on September 28th and last until May 2017, gathering visitors, international artists, over 50 partners who work within and beyond the arts, like Central St Martins, the Liverpool Biennale and reggae artist Janet Kay – who will teach visitors to crochet. Tate Exchange will be a creative lab allowing an ongoing conversation between experts of all kinds and curious people dropping by to help participants understand artistic practice and create their own digital works.
Shaped with the help of Tim Etchells, the theme of the first season of Tate Exchange is “exchange”, and anyone can drop in (for free!), bring something to the table and learn something new by interacting with artists like Simone Leigh and Christine Sun Kim.
The opening of Tate Exchange shows that Switch House is not only a place for innovative art, it also is a venue that changes the relationship between the museum and its visitors by making them real codesigners and cothinkers of what art and a museum can be: a one of a kind space with free workshops, presentations and performances that will be directly fueled by visitors. In October, the dance company Corali and the visual arts organisation Intoart will show a performance with a group of dance-performers with learning disabilities and artists from different backgrounds to explore how dance can fit with other art forms; Future Medina will be a four-day experience in which artists will feed on visitors’ thoughts and ideas to present a unique performance; visitors will also be able to be part of talks and lectures on various subjects, from the twenty-first dining table to the way artists use sound and film to communicate.
With an incredible range of subjects, disciplines and types of people engaged, Tate Exchange gives artists, organizations involved in arts, visitors, arts schools… a space to experiment without any boundaries.