Sociedad civil y relaciones transatlánticas

Yesterday I attended the Seminar “Sociedad civil y relaciones transatlánticas,” organized by VIA Círculo Jefferson. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet such a fantastic group of people and chatting with them about our common experiences in US. I was especially impressed by the representatives of the US Embassy: Ms. Elaine Samson, Political Counselor and Laura M. Gould, Cultural Affairs Officer. Listening them I reminded how much I was missing the ethusiasm, accuracy and determination of some American professionals I met when I was enjoying my Fulbright fellowship. My years in US definitively shaped my vision about so many things of US and Spain that I can not stop recommending everyone having that experience.

When Cameras Inside Museums Are Forbidden: Web 2.0 and Copyrights

Among the main qualities of Web 2.0 I like most are that it is: diverse, creative, generous, laid-back, useful, and contradictory. Today I will focus on the two last topics: usefulness and paradoxes.

As in all Guggenheim Foundation Museums, Guggenheim-Bilbao Museum does not allow visitors taking pictures or recording videos inside the building. This policy maybe had any relation with art works’ copyright or more probable indeed, with Frank Gehry‘s copyright and any possible commercial use of the Guggenheim Foundation images. However, it is my belief that this policy is pretty outdated, moreover, it is unfair for visitors and it definitively works against the institution itself.

Since visitors are paying their entrance to the building, any potential copyright issue should be considered part of the ticket fare, as it could be the case regarding museum’s maintenance expenses, personnel, etc. That used to be why visitors get upset whenever they realize of the banning of using cameras inside the Guggenheim Museums: because they had already paid the ticket and they do not want to pay two times for the same thing.

Maybe you were right now thinking that this is because of artists’ copyright reasons and that artists should be paid back in case of any audiovisual dissemination of their work. Of course that is something I absolutely agree with, but ideally this should be previously negotiated between the museum and the artists themselves without meaning any trouble for visitors. It should be a real issue if the Guggenheim Foundation was not able to negotiate the rights of its temporary exhibitions, or even worse, if it did not hold the management and the payment of the rights of its own collection. Furthermore, the use of any hypothetical photographic reproductions of artworks would be the sole responsibility of the person who would disseminated them.

So let us think that the Foundation has under control all these copyrights. In that case, anybody could think that what really happens is because of a commercial strategy to control all images of the museum to further sell them, renting the space and/or the right to take images inside. In other words, the Guggenheim Foundation seems to be choosing exclusivity as its management policy, something that is really opposite to Web2.0 principles and new trends among general public and art museum’s visitors/users.

The video linked above is a fragment of the DVD Architectures, Vol. 4 (2005) produced by Facets Multimedia. I can guess that the company paid a good amount of money for being allowed to record inside both the building and behind the scenes. Although probably the original DVD holds any copyright, this documentary production is however available in Google Video, and it is free.

Despite its image quality is really bad, this online copy permits us to share its contents in this blog and to let some others to know and experiment the wonders of Guggenheim-Bilbao Museum. What is more, I am sure that after posting this video on e-artcasting, some of you will feel curious and willing to visit it (and paying the ticket.)

In the meanwhile, enjoy this interesting video available for downloading here.

PD. (Good news is short … and the video has been removed from the internet, probably because it violated the producer’s copyrights)

2.0 Photographic Project by National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool has organized a Web 2.0 photographic project to document the city of Liverpool, called “Stewart Bale 2.0” and based in the Stewart Bale Ltd. Photographic Collection, an advertising and printing business in Liverpool that specialised in commercial and architectural photography, whose collection is owned by National Museums Liverpool.

The organization invited both amateur and professional photographs using Flickr, to recreate the photographs of its collection. This intitave currently is an online photography exhibition and is a perfect example of how Web 2.0 (a new generation of Internet services that enable collaboration, shared ownership and social tagging) can not only attract new viewers to art museums, but their collections can be revisited by contemporary looks.

As it is sawn here, it is not necessary having a contemporary art collection to understand new audiences and their relation with technology. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of museums understanding it in this way.

Images: Stewart Bale: Pier Head, 1959 (original) (left); Pete Carr: Pier Head, 2006 (right)

Map of Museums in Libya

These last days I have been very busy trying to find information about museums in Libya to ellaborate a map of museums in that country.

Unfortunately, the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM) is not including in its website information about Libyan Museums. However, they are wonderful institutions which specifically need of more visibility to be recognized as they should be in the international landscape. That is the reason why after an intense search in the Social Web, I have elaborated this map which gathers and places all museums we are aware of.

Now, thanks to the Web 2.0 tools, it is my pleasure to share this map of Libyan Museums. Do not forget to check e-artcasting Photoproject and add your comments and tags to the image.

Images: lamusediffuse: Map of Museums in Libya, 2006

e-learning Systems for Aged Art Museums

Mona Lisa ipod

Who said internet and e-learning systems were necessary for museums of only Contemporary Art? See on the photo (if you are able) ‘La Gioconda’ at the Louvre Museum, Paris. If you want to meet her in person, surely you will thank some extra help.

The Louvre offers virtual tours on its website, but the one devoted to La Gioconda is even more frustrating than on site. Although the extremely famous painting appears without visitors, the software does not allow getting closer to the art work. Despite this fact, what is probably the most visited museum on the World only offers traditional information systems.

In addition to check the text and the images on the website (with very good quality,) the only supplementary information option to visitors provided by the museum is audio guides. After having to queue during long time and over on receipt of 5 euros and an ID deposit, visitors will be allowed to carry an uncomfortable portable cd player model during their visit. The other option is hiring a guide tour, which because of the amount of visitors, the noise and the real movement difficulty; includes a headset service to be able to hear guides’ explanations.

Maybe the logical alternative to this entire nuisance would be an additional podcast and/or vodcast service on the website of the museum, so people would arrive to the museum provided with their respective explanations to enjoy at the same time they appreciate art works or, who knows, they queue listening to some music customized by the very Gioconda.

Images: Corneille, Petite: Mona Lisa, 2005. Photography. (left.) iPod® Nano Skin ‘Mona Lisa’ (right)

Podcasts and Eternal Topics

Couple at De Young Museum of San Francisco (USA) using the audioguides-podcast service the museum offers. A cutting-edge image that however, closely relates the deepest tradition of American Art: see the similarities with the very famous Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic.

More information about De Young Museum podcasts at our Wikispace.

Images: Hawk, Thomas: Couple, 2006. Photography (left); Wood, Grant: American Gothic, 1930. Oil on beaverboard, 74.3 x 62.4 cm. Col. Art Institute of Chicago (right)

Podcasts at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums


This week I attended in Brooklyn, NY the 60th Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. They have been nice days accompanied by wonderful museum professionals of the area.

On Monday 23, I attended the lecture given by the people of AntennAudio, titled “Techno Interpretation for the iPod® Generation.” We could listen (and even see) some examples of podcasts and enhanced-podcasts (which means `with images”) made for some USA Art Museums. As we all already suspected, the future comes in the shape of videocasting. However, and in the meanwhile online video technology is being enough developed to participate in the vodcasting evolution, art museums seem to be increasingly addressing podcasts as an additional tool for educating and engaging new audiences.


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