The Digital Strategies for Museums and Cultural Heritage Course (DOM E-5064) at the Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture collaborates with the Design Museum Finland in Autumn 2016 to explore paths to digital engagement for Finnish Design Heritage. The course presents a theoretical and practical overview of design strategies for museums and digital heritage. It runs from September 19 – December 2, 2016. See course website for more details: http://digitalmuseum.mlog.taik.fi
The International Journal for Intangible Heritage has published our article: Hot Stones & Cool Digitals: Sustainable Contact Zones for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Finland, in Volume 11, pages 161-172. The article shows that a combination of community participation and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) could be an effective way of promoting communities as on-site contexts for intangible cultural heritage (ICH). James Clifford’s Museums as Contact Zones (1997) serves as a theoretical and practical basis for this approach. Two community-based museum projects are documented here that were conducted in Finland between 2012 and 2014: a community-based digitisation project with the Gallen-Kallela Museum in Espoo, and a museum installation in the Hakaniemi Market Square in Helsinki to which members of the local community were the major contributors. Both projects demonstrated that it is possible for a community to foster ICH through participation, collaboration, borrowing from museum practices and by the application of emerging digital technologies.
International Journal of Intangible Heritage: ijih.org/
In an age of increasing media devices, infrastructure and energy needs, how can we develop community-shared power systems? How could artistic production benefit from energy independence and also address environmental concerns? Our aim is to build a community power bank (electrical energy storage) by recycling fuel cells, building portable battery packs for community and artistic use. The initial workshops are an introduction to our community-participated energy project and includes a hands-on introduction to recycling Lithium-ion 18650 cells from consumer battery packs. Participants are guided to safely dismantle batteries, test, identify and recover functional cells. They learn how to design various cell arrangements to create variable voltage power batteries. Finally, they are assisted to build and maintain recycled USB power banks.
Two workshops have already been held in June 2016:
In Autumn 2015, we collaborated with EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art for a course at the Department of Media Aalto University. Our primary goal was to analyze and understand the modern art museum and to formulate strategic digital approaches.
The structure of the course was designed to cover the museum system and its various parts and operations. Every class had a lecture component in the first half and a ‘make’ component in the second. The lectures were about storytelling, community participation, spatial design and digital strategies and applications for museums. These were followed by an in-class workshop where the students worked by themselves or together on tasks assigned resulting in a class presentation and critiques. The tasks assigned included How to curate your own collection, applying a narrative structure to your collection, building participation with museum audience, imagining the spatial needs, and formulating digital strategies.
“Powering the Cooper Hewitt” project will investigate a sustainable framework for the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. It will explore a participatory relationship between design collections, color search, user- communities and energy use of the museum. It will examine the links between energy & social metrics of museum’s user communities, analyzes carbon footprints and behavior of accessing digital artifacts by community from the museum’s collections. Finally, it aims to implement a participatory museum installation wherein the museum’s saved energy fosters a collection of its community’s design objects and energy stories matched to the museum’s own cloud collections.
I will be teaching this Autumn 2014 a new course at Media Lab that presents a theoretical and practical overview of digital strategies for museums and cultural heritage. Students will develop their own micro-digital archive, supported by how-to lectures in a ‘make’ environment, and will have the opportunity to curate their collections collaboratively. The course will be divided into two Phases. The first Phase, ‘Understanding the Strategies and Tools of Digital Cultural Heritage’, will provide practical knowledge of metadata, born-digital collecting, and preservation planning. The second Phase, ‘Advancing the Digital Archive for Interpretation’ will focus on managing online archives and digital curation. In addition, students will be asked to consider the impact of social media and museum user communities on digital archives. The course will further situate the student exercises by considering the aspect of sustainable ICT (internet & communication technologies) and its implications in the creation, management and interfacing of digital heritage.
The class will be structured to balance theory and practice. There will be Guest Lecturers throughout the course from various archives and museums. Once a week. 1,5 Hour lecture followed by 1 hour Making/Discussion workshop. (approx 2.5 hours) 3.30pm - 6pm. Mondays.
It was not quite long ago that I was sitting down and analyzing numbers from my latest museum project, its social metrics, visitor counts, google analytics and other random geeky tools I dug up or chanced upon from the Internet. And it crossed my mind, that i was merely peeking into a singular window of statistics and data, getting sunk into a data wormhole of one museum and being close to myopic in vision and judgement. Yes, I had plenty of metrics to drool on, and they would be enough for me to beat my drum in another adrenalized conference. But I had a nagging feeling that without any reference data, metrics of other museums in my neighborhood, their audience activities, and data that could be compared with, I had no right to claim that my project was successful! After all, in today’s world we are all interconnected and that includes museums too. And what about social change affected by my project? Did my data in any form displayed that? Or initiating acts of socially conscious projects that I have been working on for the last few years? How could I be sure that by merely gathering social metrics data of a museum project that I had effected some sort of new conscientious or altruistic thinking among my audience?
When I met Seb Chan, the Director of Digital & Emerging Media of the Smithsonian Cooper- Hewitt Labs, National Design Museum, New York, on the sidelines of MuseumNext Amsterdam in May 2013, we talked about how to make collections more visible to museum visitors and engage the community. How we could transform the digital repository into a tangible being, how to place the museum building on the internet and make it participatory. How to weave issues of energy and sustainability into the daily practices of a museum. After some research and consultation with artist colleagues, curator friends and computer programmers, I started thinking of how one would explore a participatory relationship between online digital collections, color search, user-communities and energy use of the museum. This is a research in process and the outcomes are open ended.
Haloo Akseli a public domain Open Access digital archive was launched for Gallen-Kallela Museum on February 9 2014. The archive is based on national Finnish Artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s 1920s Phonebook. The Phonebook contains his artist friends such as Albert Edelfelt, Ida Aalberg and a network of colleagues from Maxim Gorky to Karl Fazer. Here his acquaintances and their works, their art as related to Gallen-Kallela himself are to be collected, and displayed. The archive is licensed under Creative Commons.
Ida Aalberg, Albert Edelfelt, Karl Fazer – Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s phone book from the 1920s is full of familiar names. See who’s in it, and join in the making of Gallen-Kallela’s Virtual Phone Book on the Theme Day February 9th at Gallen-Kallela Museum!
Aalto University’s Media Lab in collaboration with Gallen-Kallela Museum are building an open access digital archive based on Gallen-Kallela’s contacts in his original phone book. The archive will hold information in the form of micro-histories, connected to Gallen-Kallela and his network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. This includes photos, texts and quotes from the museum’s archives – as well as pictures, postcards, memories and stories that the visitors of the Theme Day are invited to bring in.
Has the Guggenheim arrived and arrived for sure? Now, that the battle site for the new Museum has been selected, it is time for us to review in retrospect, shoot darts for the future and set up tents and demonstrations..(or not!).
Light is History is now tentatively scheduled for 2016 in Amsterdam in cooperation with a local Museum, Power company and a local public school. The project will be designed and formatted during 2014 -15 in consultation with local partners.
The World Wide Web has become the de-facto platform for a variety of cultural heritage resources in recent years. A powerful democratic tool, it allows us to access digital heritage from Museums and heritage institutions around the world. Here, collections can be displayed without the limitations of physical space and location. On the Web, there are no small Museums or large Museums. Its a level playing field where beautiful interface design, creative showcasing of Museum collections, access and participation by community can propel former insignificant and buried collections into the midst of contemporary culture and into conversation about in town.
According to Director Jette Sandahl, the Museum of Copenhagen is attempting to play a larger role in creating urban identity in Copenhagen, to help residents identify firstly as Copenhageners irrespective of origin and help maintain and promote a beautiful historical and artistic city. For her, the city museum, being the custodian of the city’s past heritage and a continuing cultural present, is in a perfect place to become the mediator and cultivator of the city’s cultural life and projects. Here, the role of the city museum in the urban fabric has become a place for contact and creating outreach among citizens and the Museum of Copenhagen is thereby positioning itself both as a co-creator and as co-custodian on behalf of all Copenhageners.
A night view of The Museum of Copenhagen’s “Wall” Photo by Casper Miskin, Museum of Copenhagen
The energy artifacts from the Light is History 2012 Installation has been collected and displayed online: http://lightishistory.tumblr.com . This is a preliminary attempt at creating an online repository of objects related to energy and contemporary nordic material culture. All the artefacts displayed here with their narratives were donated by the 16 participating families from Kallio neighbourhood of Helsinki, during the “Light is History” installation, November 24th – December 1st. 2012.
The “Light is History” project in November 2012 involved a participatory Museum installation that served as a research object in a public square in the Nordic city of Helsinki. It investigated community participation, energy use, and new media approaches in the public display of energy artifacts from contemporary Nordic material culture. Participating families were requested to inform of their energy consumption and publish their daily energy use for one week onto the project web portal. This data was used to determine the brightness of the individual therapy lamps and to light the artifact displays of the installation for over one week. This research exercise demonstrated that community members were willing to anonymously display information of their personal artifacts and its use in the public place and share their energy use information for the common wellbeing. New media technologies and participatory action was able to bridge the private to the public spaces, the individual to the collective, and exhibit the community’s material culture and energy patterns. The project also established that a shared and collaborative installation space that mimics a museum can be created outside the museum walls that is open-sourced, sustainable, and participatory. The project received funding from Aalto Media Factory at Aalto University and was co-organized in the context of Pixelache / Pixelversity’s Talking (Trash) Lab Lecture Series.
The installation was on view at Hakaniementori from 25.1 to 1.12, from 17 to 19 daily.
Kuusitoista Kalliolaista perhettä on julkistanut päivittäisen energiakulutuksensa nettiportaalissa Light is History-installaatiota varten. Päivittäisen energiankulutuksen erot määrittävät installaatiossa olevien valojen kirkkautta. Kirkkaat valot toimivat kuten kirkasvalolamput, joten ne piristävät ohikulkijoita pimeänä vuodenaikana. Valot on tehty kierrätetyistä, uusiin vaihdetuista sähkömittareista. Osana installaatiota toimii kuvasarja, joka kuvaa teoksen osallistujien päivittäin käyttämiään sähkölaitteita. Yhteisöllinen energiateos Hakaniementorilla visualisoi energian kulutusta avoimessa tilassa. Se elää kaupunkilaisten arjen mukana, jonka olennainen osa energian käyttö on.
Our Energy Art Community Installation ” Light is History” was on demo exhibition at the Helsinki’s first ever D.I.Y. festival: Wärkfest 2012, 20 – 21.10 in Cable Factory Helsinki. The first modular unit, consisting of a therapy lamp and a display case (recycled out of trash electrical meters discarded by the metering company Mitox) was installed on a mannequin borrowed from the Fashion Department for a temporary installation in the exhibition hall. There were a considerable amount of visitors and people from the DIY community visiting our temporary installation and provided us a lot of interesting feedback. Information about the installation, participation forms and recycled electrical meters were on display at our desk. Kids were especially interested in all the inside workings and parts of the electrical meters, one even(pictured above) took home a few pieces, and came back next morning to show his own gadget that he had created overnight. We were also able to sign up participants and distribute information to prospective communities. Most people that signed up were interested in the participatory aspect of donating energy for light therapy in public and also about the community interaction it could generate at the site of the installation. Among others were also visitors who cared about saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint. I also presented the project on the main stage of the festival on Saturday 17.45 using slides of our presentation and the demo modular unit. Now, we have almost reached the upper limit of participants, however still looking for a few more dedicated participants from the Kallio area. We had applied earlier for an art installation permit in Hakaniemi Square (Hakaniementori) which is a central public and community location in Kallio, and today 22.10 we have received permission to put up the installation there! We have also already agreed with Helsingin Energia to provide us with support with this project. The tentative dates of the installation are: 24.11 – 01.12.2012 Hakaniementori, Helsinki.
The first ever Ecomuseum Conference organized by the Greenlines Institute was held in Seixal, Portugal between 19 – 21st September. I was a delegate and observer to the proceedings for 3 days that included international museum professionals from around the world who expressed their views about the new generation of upcoming ecomuseums. The conference also included a day tour of all the local Ecomuseums of Seixal., and a sailing boat trip on the river Tagus!
SERDE, an arts residency in Aizpute, Latvia organized a 3 day workshop: “Transdisciplinary Arts, Ethnography and Cultural Heritage Workshop” from 24 – 26 May 2012, where I organized a 2 hour instant community participated museum (see system diagram @ end of the post) for a local weavers association, we were able to crowd-document the whole 2 hours with the help of the workshop organizers SERDE and the participants.
All Photos (c) Kati Hyppä
Presented a poster on my doctoral research topic: “Post-Oil Museum: Imagining Museums beyond Oil” at Linköping University, SWEDEN for the European Science Foundation Conference: “Re-thinking the Contact Zone”
As vintage cars from the early 20th century kept rolling into the Market Square of Helsinki yesterday’s summer evening, I had this eerie feeling of being present in a special moment of recreating history. The automobiles that were stacked like in an exhibition display on the square and the dressed up audience together created an experience that could have existed a few decades ago. The scene was from an american mid-west town and not some northern scandinavian market square! The fact that these automobile hot-rods of the yesteryears were only for the show and the supporting cast of humans attired in the rockabilly style made the whole event a sort of a performance for me. I am sure, the community of the hot-rod owners and supporting cast did not think the same. For them, it was the coming together of friends and families who shared or continue sharing a past that is no longer viable.
So what made this community gathering of antique car owners and enthusiasts a museum?
First of all, the cars on display themselves were antiques, artifacts from a distant oil age, when the automobile reigned supreme. Secondly, the supporting cast of the antique car owners and their associates were dressed in spirit of their times, thus creating a surreal atmosphere that rarely exists normally on market square. A time frozen fashion along with a festive spirit with performance music made it all the more an appealing outdoor museum. The ambience was that of a long lost community making themselves seen and heard in our modern times. Thirdly, there were lessons to be learnt, aesthetics to be discussed, mechanics to be examined for the visitors and tourists, who in this case were the museum visitors. The artifacts were not enclosed in vitrine making them more accessible to the visitors. There was no curator as such, but more like a community participated curation. This community of antique car owners were themselves the organizers, the jurists and the learners. I noticed that they helped each other with lessons in automobile mechanics, informed the local citizens about the cars and hung out with each other in good cheer. So the question that arose in mind, was how can such a community be relevant to society, to our current energy crisis and how could it raise questions of sustainability? Should this instant community museum have a pedagogical effect on the visitors and tourists? We obviously can see how this gas-guzzling automobiles are no longer relevant in today’s society. It is almost criminal to drive daily to work on one of those beasts! Can we learn something from this? Will we also be strutting around our high energy intensive appliances on this market square a century from now?