Museo eres tú

Los museos son por y para la gente, aunque entrados en la era 2.0 y con infinidad de canales abiertos a la participación sean muy pocos los que verdaderamente están cediendo un espacio propio a los usuarios. Uno de los miedos más comunes de quienes gestionan estas organizaciones es el temor a la banalización que pudieran crear los contenidos generados por los usuarios (user generated content) Sin embargo, ser un museo 2.0 implica estar permanentemente abierto a la participación.

La realidad es que mientras muchos museos abren canales de “participación” y sólo los pueblan con “sus” contenidos, los usuarios están creando obras magníficas que en muchas ocasiones superan en creatividad y calidad a las que producen muchas organizaciones. Tal es el caso del tema 70 Million interpretado por el grupo franco-americano Hold your horses, quien gracias a su talento ha contribuido a la posterior creación de numerosos covers y vídeos explicando las obras de arte que en el vídeo se interpretan, en lo que supone una difusión del arte que para sí ya hubieran querido muchos museos. Y es que los usuarios son una inagotable fuente de conocimiento colectivo y creatividad (crowdsourcing) que cualquier museo que se llame “2.0” no puede dejar de incorporar y mucho menos, subestimar.

Parece que Hold your Horses lo pasó tan bien grabando el vídeo de 70 Million que posteriormente se animó con este encargo, una versión igual de divertida dedicada a la pintura impresionista. Indudablemente los museos han de educar y divulgar sus colecciones, ¿pero quién dijo que no podía ser de una forma creativa, divertida y lo más importante, colaborativa?

What Museums Say… about Seattle Art Museum

This post is the first one in English of the series “Lo que los museos dicen…”, which in its English version is called, “What Museums Say…” This section shows a different point of view to the so called “User Generated Content” (UGC) by featuring what art museums are saying -online- about themselves.

One of the most interesting approaches to this problem is checking how museums are advertising themselves. As you will keep watching in future posts of this section, there are lots of wonderful and very creative examples of self-introductions by art museums. One of my favorites is this one by Seattle Art Museum, USA, posted by coleweber, I guess, the author of the featured spot. I t is my belief that this is a good spot because it is focussed on museum visitors’ experience and not on, as often used to happen, what museums do, have, want, etc. Here I can feel what is going to happen to me if I visited Seattle Art Museum, because when I visit art museums, I not only used to learn, mainly I have experiences. Here you can have yours. Any comments on how to interpret this video?

If you also understand Spanish, do not forget checking the topics section of the right column, and clicking on some other examples of Museums talking about themselves at “Lo que los museos dicen…”; or, why not, people speaking about museums at “Lo que la gente dice…” and its equivalent in English, “What People Say…”

Can ART be experienced on a phone?


Mobile technologies are becoming a must among art museums from all over the world. A huge variety of devices are regularly offered to visitors for an enhanced experience of their on-site visits

Cell phones, iPods, PDAs, etc. are the very new substitutes of the not so old museum audioguides. Users find some advantages using their own devices: they can use them at any moment and place, in other words: not only in the museum physical space and opening schedule. Besides, museums can save a huge expense in maintenance and updating their technology. Museums only have to provide contents suitable for being downloaded from their websites.

But can these technologies substitute on-site experience? Listen David Lynch’s opinion about seeing films on a cell phone and try to remember your own daily experience with art museums.

I personally agree with Lynch’s opinion and with Steven Spielberg’s dislike about seeing films on the screen of a computer. However, thanks to these alternative ways of experiencing art, sometimes I could have that (incomplete) experience that otherwise never had been possible.

Museums in Libya 2.0

After several months of intense and exciting work, the project Museums in Libya 2.0 is already available on the Internet.

lamusediffuse proposes the use of Social Web tools for the inclusion of non-dominant cultural expressions in the scopes of culture diffusion on the Internet. Accordingly with this objective, the project “Museums in Libya 2.0” is focused on two starting facts, the first is the lack of information about Libyan museums available in the website of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM) and the second is the apparent lack of museum websites in this country. As a consequence of this, the objective of our project has been overcoming both realities through the following actions,

  • Overcoming the gaps of Web 1.0 by using a methodology based on Web 2.0 tools as a flexible, interactive and participative alternative option of information exchange,
  • Proving Social Web academic usefulness and its tools as a valid and effective research tool,
  • Palliating the lack of contents on Libyan museums on AFRICOM website by compiling, contrasting and structuring the information available on the Internet about the subject,
  • Elaborating a reference map where gathering and locating the museums of Libya,
  • Raising awareness about the online institutional forgetfulness situation of Libyan Museums at the present time in comparison with others in the rest of the world,
  • Creating a methodological model for small museums and museums of developing countries or under conflict situations, reasonable in economic and maintenance terms,
  • Encouraging museum professionals to Web 2.0 tools use as an economic, simple and effective solution to overcome any lack of computer science personnel or tools and digital technology,
  • Emphasizing the importance and role of the Jamahiriya Museum of Tripoli and improving its online visibility for both international and local audiences,
  • Finally, creating a reference document on the Libyan museums that will be published under a Creative Commons license of attribution and for noncommercial use,
You can find more details about this project on lamusediffuse‘s website.

From now on you can enjoy the wonderful Libyan museums strolling through the interactive map, where you will find information on each museum provided by our collaborators and Social Web users. Do not forget also consulting our wiki and updating it with new data. Besides, you can collaborate sharing your photos of Libyan museums including them in our group in Flickr, e-artcasting.

At this moment I leave you with the presentation we have made to present the project on next July 11 at the Medialab of Madrid (Spain,) within the encounter: New Art Dynamics in Web 2 mode. Besides, you can consult the references of the project in lamusediffuse’s account. We hope meeting some of you there!

>Your Photos on Museums: Ile Ife National Museum, Nigeria


You are e-artcasting’s most precious value. Thanks to your emails, comments and contributions e-artcasting’s mission is increasing its diverse outreach.

One of our most active activities is located at our Flickr group. “E-artcasters” are about to contribute 1,000 wonderful and rare photos on art museums from all over the world, so it is hight time for celebration. Today we start a new section named, “Your Photos on Museums” in which we will rescue on weekly basis a selection of your best contributions at our Flickr pool.

For our Grand Opening, this exquisite image of the Ile Ife National Museum (Nigeria) taken in April 1958 and posted by Rabinal, who also shared with us a fragment of The White traveller in Black Africa, by Colin Wills,

The Creation of the World (Yoruba version). The creation of the world took place at Ife. Orafame. The Supreme Being, the Creator, sent Orishala out from heaven to create the world. The way was long and hot, and Orishala rested in a grove of palms. He was thirsty, and he drank palm wine, and fell asleep, a serious dereliction in one with such a high task. Orafame was disappointed. He called another demigod named Oduwa, and sent him forth to carry out the mission. Oduwa did not pause by the way. He took earth, a hen, and a chameleon. The hen spread out the earth and scraped it into a mound, just as you will see her do today. The chameleon moved over the mound, testing it with his light weight, feeling gently with his little feet. His delicate,tremulous movements which you can see today, are a memory of that great task. From the mound grew the Earth. It was there that Orfame set down the first man and woman, and from there stemmed the Yoruba people. The mound still exists; I will show it to you presently, said my guide. Oduwa, naturally, is worshipped by millions of Yoruba. The chameleon is also sacred, and the hen, though eaten, is regarded with great respect and affection. But the strange thing is that Orishala also has his devotees. One might expect them to be the wine-bibbers of the community. On the contrary, they are the teetotallers. When Orishala awoke and found that somebody else had created the world while he slept, he bitterly lamented his failure, and swore never to touch palm wine again. He never did, and neither do any of his followers. His failing remains an example forever, a warning to men of their own frailties.

Image: Rabinal: Museum at Ife, posted on September 2006.


Is Social Media Twisting to Populist Elitism? YouTube Awards and User Generated Content

It seems clear that the most popular social media platforms are for profit initiatives as explained in our former article on Second Life and art museums. Unfortunately or not, social does not mean gratis. However, and as a result of the twist to a more commercial strategy from social media companies, we have noticed an increasing will for establishing “quality differences” among user generated content.

The New York Times’ article, “YouTube Awards the Top of Its Heap” by Virginia Heffernan underlines the consequences of those changes implemented by YouTube. This online community is not any more about “no judgments, no hierarchies, big bandwidth and lots of freedom” but about competition for popularity. In other words, the most voted video, the best one.

We can bet that never a museum related video will win any award at YouTube. But do not panic, although we would love it, being popular is not the same as being prestigious. Prestige is about being important to the ones you really (your museum) care. Should museums care about everyone’s opinion? Ideally, yes because we are institutions opened to everyone. But if our standard is everyone’s opinion, how should we understand the fact that most of people do not care about museums? Is everyone’s opinion really meaningful to us? Let us assume it: we are a minority’s subject, we talk to a minority, and we have to live with that fact in the world of social media “the most voted” competitions.

As it is our belief that museums should be primarily prestigious and if so, popular as well, being a minority should not mean any problem. The problem comes when the idea of prestige is twisted to elitism because of a commercial strategy. Apparently, “being different” is becoming the most important value among online community members. Should be social media about establishing differences inside communities, or about sharing? The answer is not easy because what museums really do is establishing quality differences by proposing selected exhibitions and collections. We are lost…

Video waterrandi: The Museum of Lost Wonder, 2006. Posted on October 2.

>What People Say… about the National Museum of Iraq: Raising Awareness on that Shameful Looting to the Humankind


What people say about the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad is certainly not enough. The shame that the looting of Iraq Museum in Baghdad meant to the so called “civilization” is nothing in comparison with its irreversible loss, better said: our irreversible loss. That crime was something that not only affected thousands of museum professionals, archaeologists, art historians, and researchers from all over the world; that crime was a looting of our history, of our humankind heritage.

The first sentences of the Iraq Museum Database created by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago can give an accurate vision of the scope of the looting,

No other museum can rival the collections of Mesopotamian artifacts in the Iraq Museum. Spanning a time from before 9,000 B.C. well into to the Islamic period, the Iraq Museum’s collections includes some of the earliest tools man ever made, painted polychrome ceramics from the 6th millennium B.C., a relief-decorated cult vase from Uruk, famous gold treasures from the Royal Cemetery at Ur, Sumerian votive statues from Tell Asmar, Assyrian reliefs and bull figures from the Assyrian capitals of Nimrud, Nineveh, and Khorsabad, and Islamic pottery and coins–an unrivaled treasure not only for Iraq, but for all mankind.

To the ones who maybe could think that the stolen objects be recovered with a lot of effort, money and politics’ will; we would say that nothing can be done to retrieve Iraqi antiquities to their original state before the looting, nothing. Apart from the massive pillage, lots of art works were literally destroyed and smashed as you could see in the video titled “Remember Iraq’s Heritage, Our Heritage” posted on the social software by non-profit organization Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE.) This organization dedicated to preserve cultural heritage worldwide has organized “A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum” to raise awareness about that terrible crime.

April 10-12, 2007 will be the fourth anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone is organizing a worldwide candlelight vigil to end the looting and destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq, and around the world.

With that aim, SAFE has interviewed Dr. Doony George Houkhanna, former responsible of Iraq Museum in Baghdad’s collection and currently visiting professor of Stony Brook University, in a video that we wish you will hopefully help to spread in blogs, workplaces and classrooms.

On April 10, 2003 news broke that shook the world. During three days and nights, thousands of priceless artifacts from the cradle of civilization were systematically looted from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. As Director of Research, Dr. Doony George Houkhanna has been responsible of the museum’s collection for decades and became a witness to a terrible event.

lamusediffuse, the organization behind e-artcasting project, is an international collaborative team exploring the forms, impact, and possibilities of electronic technologies in contemporary culture. Our mission is improving lives for individuals by improving access to culture through digital technologies and their creations, and in fact, some of us are from Baghdad. Witnessing the looting that our beloved country has suffered and still does exceeds the irreparable impact of the pillage at National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, as it is accurately underlined by Dr. Houkhanna when he speaks about the loss and destruction in Iraqi excavations. As Dr. Houkhanna proposes, “Let’s gather together and see what we can do, so that people will not forget what happened.”

In addition to SAFE, some other organizations have implemented praiseworthy initiatives for the Iraqi cultural relief. Apart from the cited Oriental Institute of Chicago and its comprehensive website Lost Treasures from Iraq, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has implemented a specific webpage entitled Resources on Iraqi Museum Collections in addition to the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk, which has been placed among other sad and shameful bunch of red lists on cultural heritage. Do not also forget to check the comprehensive SAFE List of Resources on Iraq.

“A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum” will take place on April 10-12, 2007 to, “show your support for Iraq. Demand the return of the missing Iraq Museums artifacts. And demand the end of the looting and destruction of the world’s cultural heritage.” lamusediffuse will of course join this wonderful initiative and we will do it in different places.

At the moment, one of the venues in which we will be part of and where can not be a better context because it is a museum professional meeting, the Museums and the Web 2007 International Conference for Culture and Heritage Online at San Francisco. Another venue we are trying to implement will be at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. We will provide you more specific details about it at e-artcasting.

However, in some places this gathering call is going to have no visible face, because life for Iraqis working for humankind’s culture is not easy, as Dr. Houkhanna explains to Cindy Ho in this 38-minute interview to SAFE. We will be there, be sure. We just need you too.

SAFE: Flyer of “A Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum.” 2007
savingantiquities: Remember Iraq‘s Heritage, Our Heritage. Posted on March 20, 2007
namirkh: End of Civilization. Posted on February 15, 2007
BI30: “Stuff Happens!” – Rumsfeld on looting after fall of Baghdad. Posted on August 01, 2006


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