One brick less in the wall: the case of the Baden State Museum

The Baden State Museum is developing its digital strategy. In view of an extensive renovation, visitors have been redefined as active users, digital user IDs have been introduced and a citizens' council has been established. Projects to build a digital platform and explore artificial intelligence are intended to accelerate dialogue and empowerment. In this Campfire session, we will explore the potential of these developments as steps towards the museum without walls. Track:Why Museums?


Unknown Speaker 06:13
my name is Johannes Bernhardt and I'm the Digital manager at the Pan State Museum and it's responsible for developing the digital strategy of the museum. And we are super thrilled that we are invited to present something here and super curious about the discussion a little bit later. So what we will do in this section about why museums is to present what the battle State Museum is doing at the moment to build new relevancies and to make the museum a more relevant experience. To do this, we will start with a presentation and I will begin with a general overview about the processes that are going on in the museum and then we will focus a little bit more closely on three projects that we are doing and pursuing at the moment and as you will see in the end, more or less everything is concerned about our answer to the why museums profession to make the museum a more flexible fluid institution and to generate and create new exercises to the museum so I was not the presentation he brought Can you see it doesn't work. Alright, okay, the title of our session is one break less in the wall and as you will see, we are killing several breaks not only one we are trying it. So to start with the general process what is going on in our museum as a case. You can see here an image of the baton State Museum. It's housed in the palace of cards were a very old building from the 18th century, and more or less everything we will present in this session is related to an upcoming renovation of the palace. So we are in the unique situation that in a few years, the whole museum will be will be clear cleared out so to say. And that gave us the possibility to rethink the museum from the ground. Up. Maybe one information we are a Cultural Historical Museum, one of the larger ones in Germany and we have collections from prehistory to the present time and a certain focus on classical antiquities, Greek and Roman materials and automatic collections from the 17th century. So since we are in the situation to rethink the museum, we developed an a very long and complicated process, a New Museum concept. And the core idea of this New Museum concept is that we are redefining our visitors as active users of the museum. And at the moment, we are in a strategic process to think a little bit further then this concept, but I will come back to this point a bit later. At the moment. That is our starting point. How can we redefine the visitors so we are introducing at the moment a lot of infrastructure and digital and analog infrastructure in our museum for example, a digital ID IDs you can use in the home museum to interact with with offerings, with interactive showcases and so on. And they will be developed to be usable to pay in the museum shop in the museum cafeteria and so on. That's that's a huge step for the museum to introduce such an infrastructure but it's especially challenging to rethink the visitors as users and permanent collection. So what I'm showing you here is a picture of our pilots and prototype exhibition, archaeology in Aden, which shows objects that were found in prehistoric times in the body region. And, in fact, this permanent exhibition has three parts you see here on the one, the first part of the presentation, very sumptuous presentation of key objects of the collection. The second part you can see here, it's called the expo. Tea. It's something like and Research Laboratory. And the third part is at the moment, virtual reality installation where you can experience museum objects in the historical context, but I will focus on this centerpiece here the expertise here. I could talk a lot about this, this room. Here you can interact with smartphones and augmented reality directly with the objects in the showcases. And you can use the media tables in the middle of the room to

Unknown Speaker 11:07
to read more about the material to play games and so on. But the most important thing we are doing here is that in the background, there's a digital catalog running. That's a catalog. It's all objects in this collection. And if you have one of these user IDs, if you're a member of the museum, and you sit at home at your computer, you can order objects and make an appointment with one of our collaborators always present in this collection. You see in here we call them explainers and then they will take out the object from the showcases and presented directly to you without glasses and things like that. And if it is possible, you can even take it into your own hands and research it and discover details and how it feels in your hands. So that's the main idea. We are pursuing in this pilot projects to interlink digital and analog experiences to give access direct access to objects. So this is this started in 2019 and was heavily hit by Corona because it's a very interactive exhibition, but we started at the same time. A more general process since we redefined our visitors as users of the museum. We try to interlink the digital reorientation of the museum with participation and to include our users in the development of the museum. And we are using a framework book that is heavily used in the German context by Felix Scheider, which is also translated into English. It's called the teacher to conditional engine, actually, digital culture the culture of digitality. And he defined this culture of wire free segments. You can see on the right side of the slide, that users of digital media and create new collectives and communities Yeah, you can think of any kind of social media that they built their own reference systems, for example, on Instagram, or interest or things like that. Users can create their own exhibitions by building reference systems of images. And the third part is the culture of rhythmicity users are able to access and get any kind of information they need, if they use for example, Bill or any kind of agoraphobic access to knowledge and to a place in the museum in the new culture of the totality and to make it more attractive, relevant, accessible for users of these kinds of media. You have actually to place New Museum in this intersection. And this culture is actually synonymous to participation. It's more or less the same people expect a participatory approach to the museum. So what we did is a lot of participatory work before we even develop anything new digital, so we established a citizen Council, which developed with design design thinking methods, own concepts, we are pursuing some of them at the moment and realizing them, we introduced museum camps. So I show you here random needs some pictures of these processes. There was a lot going on in our museum first physical in the museum and now in digital sessions via Zoom. And since this was a really successful process, we created our own platform or open space but space in the middle of the city. It's not in the in the palace of the middle of the city. We call it New Museum Max programmatically museum x because we want to show with the x, that we don't have all the answers, but need the discussion of our citizens to discover what the museum of the future should look like and where we should go. With further developments. And this is a really interesting place because we can use it also to organize hackathons and to take the needs and the ideas of our citizens to invite programmers and IT people to build prototypes. We did this a lot, also in the digital space of Trustees. So in this process, we found out a lot about the needs and interests of our citizens and I show you only two projects that might be interesting. And both of them are open source projects and reusable by anybody who's interested to take them and to experiment with them. The first one is your gift.

Unknown Speaker 16:06
A really interesting piece that enables users to create their own content. Yeah, that's the main idea to focus on the question of user generated content. So what you can do is you take this, this app, and you visit the museum and you can take photos of objects in the museum, and then you can record a small audio messages and the app wraps that up to a gift and you can send it to a friend to your mother or anybody who's close to you and you can have some kind of intimate interaction via the content of the museum. So it's a really interesting thing. And we shot this and discuss that a lot with our citizens and they come up for example with the idea. We should have a public gift shop where people who create a gift could store them so if you visit the museum, there's a whole gift shop and you can choose a gift. So that's a second development phase. We are publishing soon. The other thing is another app, which works in a way complementary to the to the first one we call it to the museum app. And the basic idea is you can see this here on the left side that we offer images of objects and you can swipe like in Tinder that's Tinder for museum objects actually, and you can swipe if you liked it or don't like it, and if you have a match, so if an object fits your own profile, then starts a dialogue and if you behave in the right way and are polite and have a nice conversation with the object at a certain point that will invite you to visit this museum and then you can find it you can search it and then you can proceed with your dialogue. And the interesting thing is that the most interesting material in this app was written by our Citizens Council so there we went a step further and invited all citizens to write and create their own content for this for this app and provided just information so I have to come to an end so my colleagues can can present some of the other projects. We give the right to Ghana. Just one last sentence. We saw in the process of these projects and the participatory work, that we need a lot more large projects and we will show you now three of these projects we created out of this process. So Kristiana Thank you

Unknown Speaker 18:42
harness so I'm going to present the project I'm currently responsible for the museum X point oh, which is we are building a responsive website or platform for participation and user generated content. And the next slide will tell you why. So the museum X point oh project is our direct response to the COVID 19 crisis. As MANY museums, we too had to close and we quickly realized that with our premises closed, we had no no means to interact with our audience or be relevant for the current situation. And of course, as a digital team, we look to the digital as a as an option. But in the digital space, we also saw that MANY museums returned to a kind of a top down sending things out mode. That was not very participatory. And this is where the museum X point oh, project starts, because we had, as Johannes already mentioned, a long history at the baton State Museum of participatory digital projects with the creative collections approach and especially the your gift approach where we already had, like an automatic, automatic or autonomous participation where people just use our collections without using or having to use us as a trance transmitters. And now with the 6.0 project, we're going to take this approach from the creative collections and put it on the whole museum. And we have we are creating the creative museum so to speak, which I'll show you on next slide what is about and as I said, don't be scared by the graphic. It's it's a responsive website that can be used in the museum or at home. Or on the train. And it's it's it's, it's for, to enable participation and user generated content. And it's all about relevance. It's in its center, because we wanted to coming out of the COVID experiences we really wanted to create something where we could do rapid responses to current situations where we could talk about the COVID crisis where we could talk about, I don't know the economic crisis, maybe that's coming or other topics like me too, or whatever will come up and we can quickly respond, which we cannot do with our traditional museum approaches like exhibitions that take forever to plan. And a second part is that we want to enable the museum to be a place of debate and creativity for our users and ourselves as well. And that is why user generated content is the is the key ingredient of this platform. And the default is that users and also the museum employees would also be users can can add their knowledge, their questions, their thoughts, and together we would make sense of the present and develop new strategies for the future. And this is why a first part a big part is to build a community but not Yana. Sorry, please stay with the Yes to build a community at the bottom State Museum that evolves around the museum and its uses and what you see on the on the right side is like I don't know we try to put it in a picture of what it means in the in the green circle. You just see the four key ingredients for the creative museums, which is discussing learning, connecting to others and creating things. And we are building this year free modules. This is the yellow things that you see there in the second circle, one for debate, one to interact with content deeply where people can share videos, their stories, audience, maybe do quizzes, and a third module, which is all about the community space. And it's also connected with a user account for people to follow each other to chat with each other. And this is why the community approach is and now we can go to the next slide. It's so central and it's also tied to this title of ours and one less brick in the wall. By having this creative museum we hope to create a community of free different user groups like we have. We have the museum which is the Golden Circle as the button State Museum, our employees that also have a user account that they can interact with the users, the citizens

Unknown Speaker 23:32
and everybody adds content and if we are lucky. Also our museum could museums could join our community and it would all be digital and transgress the museum borders and this is what we hope to achieve. When we're finished with this project, thank you very much. I'll hand over to Sonja

Unknown Speaker 23:56
rates thank you so happy to be here and report on the creative user empowerment project at Urbana State Museum which is about the use of artificial intelligence and the museum. So as we all know, that's on the next slide. Museums today have the potential to be network places of knowledge for the for their collections and exhibitions, our museums doors, about 50,000 years of cultural history. And we ask us how do we make these collections speak and how do we connect the exciting and important stories with users today? So how do users in a digital culture learn about all the treasures hidden in the historical chambers of art and curiosities? So how can collections be made, be made available and accessible in a truly living way? And we asked ourselves how the museum can be connected with the knowledge resources that exists in other places. And we think that artificial intelligence intelligence can help us and the museum's and above all the users to bring out these treasures. So artificial intelligence can help to better describe images, create texts, store collections, or develop a way of dealing with user data automates tagging can can be used to further develop the collection. By integrating external databases, the information and the digital collections can be enriched and supplemented with the help of prognostics museums can Aten react to visitor flows or plan better. In this way, the users need to independently explore contexts and pursue their own research question is addressed and this project museum as places of knowledge and exchange can also positioned themselves as relevant institutions to digital culture. So what we do with the open source tool, X curator is that we are developing a personalized recommendation system that provides suggestions for the use of museum content based on user behavior, interests and level as a digital curation tool for visitors. The content is made available for reuse. But artificial intelligence can do more. On the next slide is your work of art created by an AI you probably you probably know that piece of art was created by an AI based on an existing collection. The AI system that created this image was developed by the Artists Collective obvious and the image is based on the average of 15,000 portraits from the 15th to the 20th century. The painting was sold for 380,000 Euro at Christie's Auction House. So AI is now challenging also our idea of art and culture and our understanding of authorship. Such piece of art asks us to question what kind of Ai do we want in our society? So do we want an AI AI that is a tool and makes our lives easier? Or do we want to teach AI systems as much autonomy as possible and hand over processes to it and we think that museums can be wonderful places to think about and negotiate those together as a society. That's why the project therefore accompanies the social transformation that new our artificial intelligence technologies open up. The discussion about artificial intelligence is shaping our society and how we want to use it is therefore being conducted both publicly and internally at the museum. That's why we also work in the international network. Ai museums and as I can see, Elena is also here. In work, we offer events on transformation processes, and are always on the lookout for inspiring partners. And I hand over to the next project, which is called Inside Out.

Unknown Speaker 28:55
Sorry, yeah, the last project we are pursuing at the moment I present on the very briefly, because it's in the beginning stages only. So also, as a result of the corona crisis, we were thinking a lot about what we can do with the museum environment if we can't use our spaces in the museum and the palace to show exhibitions. How can we use the digital media to bring out our collections in the museum environment and into the public. And so we started a project it's it's called Inside Out as I said, it's just starting, which pursues two directions. That's the reason for the title. The first one is how can we collect together with our citizens and bring in materials into the museum and we did this already during the Ebola crisis. One of our curators was collecting Corona material and building a carbonara collection. And the other side is how can we bring out the objects and the central idea is to use 3d digitizations that can be placed outside of the museum and you can actually make them really large and experienceable by augmented reality apps by your smartphone. And you can create real exhibitions out there and the really interesting thing is we have a prototype for this. If you're interested in this kind of material, you can have a look on the on the websites. At the bottom of the slide. A media artists collaborating with us has created this prototype and it's a focus on participatory exhibition design. So how can you use these 3d objects in the museum environment in a participatory way so that they come something into being like a living exhibition, that that's more or less the point here. Different users can use the objects we arrange them so that every time we do you take a look at will look different, they can leave comments, they can leave stories, they can like and dislike the material. So it's an interesting way. We are starting to explore and that might be interesting in the future to create and Vironment of objects and exhibitions around the museum. So maybe we stopped at this point, so we have a little bit of time to discuss what we presented here. As I said in the beginning is super curious. What you think about the way the button State Museum is pursuing at the moment, as I said, the general process in redefining the visitors as users experiments to gain more relevance and other free projects, the platform project, AI project and museum environment projects, focus on digging holes with holes into the wall of the museum and make it more fluid. But I will stop at this point. And hope there's a lively discussion.

Unknown Speaker 32:49
So burps

Unknown Speaker 32:52
I have a quick question. Um, just out of curiosity. It sounds like you guys went through much more participatory approach to not only accumulating for your collection, but also like how it's used. I would just I would love to hear more about a how you kind of like got to that decision. And it be if you found it difficult in any way to kind of implement it

Unknown Speaker 33:18
in a central point, because I had an audio hiccup Did you get it Christian? So start MANY,

Unknown Speaker 33:24
yes. It's about citizen Council. It's about how we, we use the participatory approach to also decide which projects we're going TO to that's what I what I got from from the question and since you did it, maybe you answered Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 33:39
can. I can. Yeah, of course, we discussed all of the material he presented with our citizens, of course. So what we did with our citizen Council and performance, like the museum camp is to invite people to discuss with us the orientation and reorientation of the museum and most of the projects grew out of ideas of the citizens. Only the inside out projects, and the last one was created because of the or out of the colonial experience. But the ideas for your gift and especially the New Zealand Tinder app, were heavily discussed after citizen Council and we did a lot, especially inviting them to create the content for these apps to keep the process of participation ongoing. So it's not a one time thing you think about a concept and then that's it, but we invited them time and again to keep in the discussion and to say what they like what they don't like, which the right direction would be interesting. So maybe maybe that much but we present all this material to them and also formats maybe like a hackathon are really interesting in this respect. If you know what ideas and needs are ongoing in your communities, you can offer them to programmers and IT people and see what happens and so present the ideas that are coming up in the hackathon again to citizens and see how they react so it becomes a larger ongoing dialogue.

Unknown Speaker 35:39
And that's a question chat, from Marie Louise. How did we recruit citizens for participation in the concerts?

Unknown Speaker 35:48
Yeah, that was an interesting process. So we invited everybody interested to proceed to participate into in this council and what was really interesting, we did a lot of campaigning. So visiting people go to discussions, publishing it, why newspapers and things like that fly campaigns, things like that, in the end, we had for our citizen counselor who had in in the main time of its activity around 50 members. We had more than 120 or 100 applications and so everybody could apply and write some sentences, some roads a lot. Why they are interested to participate in rethinking the museum and thinking it forward. And when we close the application process, we were researching this material for several days. So several colleagues of mine and me we were working really hard to to make this citizen Council as diverse as possible. So they are really young members of a 17 year old guy, for example, on Professor Emeritus of sociology with who was 78 at the point of the application, so a lot of professions and we tried to make it as broad as possible. But of course, the process also led to applicants that already had some kind of an interest for the museum. So to make this even broader you troops, or one must do a lot more of campaigned work and to go to the communities of the non visitors to bring them in and to start a dialogue. But at the time, that was more or less me doing it. So I couldn't do this at that time, but we had a lot of disconnected discussions with our citizen Council itself, who brought in new members and invited new members and said we should try to bring to bring in people from this community or that community. So that will be I think it's a topic in the future how we develop this institution of the citizen council because in in originally it was part of a timewise limited project, but we kept it up and so it's the citizen Council is still active and existing, but it needs to be developed now. So we are in this stage at the moment. I hope this answers the question.

Unknown Speaker 39:11
I think individuals are also asking for your contact information. If you guys are open to sharing and perfect.

Unknown Speaker 39:19
Ricardo ballpoint if you are interested and want to try a link or two, no problem.

Unknown Speaker 39:30
Maybe I can ask a question to the audience because I'm always thinking of of if you if you try to remove the bricks, what's your experience with it? Because it's a very interesting thing to do. But I mean, we are no museum so I would be curious what what what's maybe if all of you will hear from us or from your background. What's your experience with it?

Unknown Speaker 40:35
Maybe we can add a point from our perspective to this question, because the maybe interesting thing for us working with a focus on digital possibilities for museums. On the one side, the digital, maybe catalyzes all the problems and structural questions museums have and in a forceful way. One might say, and on the other hand, it opens up spaces where you can do things traditional museums can have to do. That's maybe the most interesting part. So you can think about tearing down the walls and things like that in the digital space which would be totally unrealistic for a physical museum or really complicated structure wise. But but that's maybe one of the most interesting points, at least for me, that the digital of is this, a tentative space to do a lot of things that are discussed for 50 years or more, but don't happen.

Unknown Speaker 41:45
Yeah, yeah, I would agree there and and I think that's also what I find interesting about the digital, it's just a vehicle for, I don't know, revolution or whatever you want to call it, but it's it's interesting, like in my project with the platform, that we're building something for the digital space, but it it ties into every part of the museum so much that now I have to go and talk to all the departments of how to integrate it and there it gets very interesting. Where you can do something in a digital but you have to you have to integrate it into the whole museum that's so focused on the physical and I think we're gonna see much more of this the next years, when when all the museums are going to continue their digital efforts while being open again. So I think that's a very interesting spot to be in to recombine these two words, so to speak.

Unknown Speaker 43:03
Maria Noyes is writing that at the Canadian water Zoom, they are reevaluating digital strategy. as well. And I'm super curious of what you're doing actually. Maybe you want to you want to also talk about your projects.

Unknown Speaker 43:20
Yes, another question, but maybe if you want to just turn on your camera into my microphone and join the discussion. Otherwise, yeah, maybe it works with your microphone, but maybe I can answer the the other question about the response of the visitors and users of the museum. There's no general answer to this point, because we've presented now a lot of material. So the first point is the pilot exhibition I showed in the beginning the archaeology embodiment thing where you can get access to the to the objects directly. The responses pretty well so far, but not really representative and long term because the exhibition was closed half a year after its opening because of the corona crisis. So we couldn't test it as much. Yes. So the response so far was good, but I wouldn't build a house on the on the results so far, because we need more data and more more responses and more reactions to it. But but it is well so far. It's different with the apps and projects that are underway at the moment, the apps and the responses are pretty good on the your gift app. We published in the first version in the middle of the problema crisis because we thought we thought it would be really interesting to offer people that put on the wizard, a single person's the museum, a kind of companion to share the experience with people at home for example. So and the usage of this app was astounding to be honest. Saw especially last year in the middle of the Coronavirus prices. A lot of people use it. It's different of maybe it's especially important to say that this is a web based app. So the access to this app is super easy. So it's in fact on interactive website, nothing more and so you don't have to download anything. And the other app we presented in has been published some months ago, and the responses I would say are mixed. So Christianna jumpin if you if you disagree, it's so it's it's nice the responses are usually very positive, but we can do a lot better. I think we have to include this, this app into more programming, I think so and the other projects we presented underway or that are under construction. At the moment. So maybe Sanyo can say something about her project because there's something interesting going on.

Unknown Speaker 46:56
Yeah, I just kind of had that. At the moment. We're looking deeper to digital visitor data and how to evaluate this data from from the different offerings in the in the museum, to also to see how our digital offers are used and received. And we try to use clustering, class clustering approach to further digital user data. So I think we can make, like give more information about that in a few months.

Unknown Speaker 47:35
That's maybe one of the most interesting course processes at the moment are going on in Germany. I see that a lot of museums and cultural institutions are starting to think about user data strategies because until the corona crisis, in my experience, it was mostly about content strategies on how to put out content and intellectual contents and things like that. But there was hardly any debate about how to systematically so we what digital users are doing and what to do with all these new kinds of data that can be analyzed and used to make more impactful offerings and to create more impactful material. So that's that's a big debate that is just starting in our context at the moment. And it's really interesting because it has a lot of potential. If you have really really high quality user data and you have really interesting content data and to bring these two spheres together. For example, why an artificial intelligence approach or something else? To have a meaningful dialogue between these data? That would be really

Unknown Speaker 48:52
interesting. Okay, I think we have to come to an end. I just want to say that you're very welcome to the contact lesson. in session. Connect or ask more questions and stay in contact.

Unknown Speaker 49:17
I also want to just take an opportunity to thank all of you for presenting your work and your finding and being so generous with your time. I know the process must have been you know, very interesting, especially when it's like responsive but it sounds absolutely brilliant and I know that we'd love to hear more, and invite you guys to continue the conversation in the recap session that's happening next. Yes, thank you very much.

Unknown Speaker 49:45
MANY thanks to everybody.