If you are in Amsterdam this week, don’t miss MuseumNext at the Beurs van Berlage. MuseumNext is Europe’s big conference on innovation and technology in museums. The aim is to provide a clear insight into how technology and media are shaping museums and the world around them. This year MuseumNext focuses on ‘What’s Next’. My colleague Dr Kathryn Eccles who is an expert on Digital Humanities and the role of crowdsourcing in the arts, will be talking about her case study “Your Paintings“, a collaboration between the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC.
If the conference presentations about technology in museums have given you an appetite for a cultural excursion, you might want to pay a visit to the Rijksmuseum which has reopened after a decade-long renovation process. Both the building and it’s contents are impressive. Instead of displaying the one million objects by material (e.g. a gallery for glass, a gallery for porcelain, a gallery for paintings), more than 8,000 objects are now mixed, illustrating 800 years of Dutch history across the Rijksmuseum’s 80 galleries.
However, if you are unable to visit the Rijksmuseum in person, then an online visit is also highly recommended. The museum won 3 awards at the 2013 Best of the Web awards organized each year at the Museums and the Web conference. The ‘Rijksstudio: Make Your Own Masterpiece’ project has been online since October 2012 and invites the public to enjoy and explore more than 125.000 high resolution images of the Rijksmuseum’s collection: you can zoom in, save, manipulate and share them. Users are actively encouraged to download the images and to do something with them: use Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid to wallpaper your kitchen, create a tattoo based on some Delft blue porcelain, or decorate your scooter with van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The Rijksmuseum Lets You Remix Its Art.
According to the MW2013 site the Rijksmuseum is “democratizing” its collection: “In the first three months alone, over 32,000 Rijksstudio portfolios were created, more than 112,000 artworks from the Rijksmuseum’s collection were downloaded and 28,000 sets were made. The amount of visitors has grown 34% since the launch of the new version of the website. The duration of each visit has increased from an average of 3 minutes to 10 minutes and specially iPad users spend a significant amount of time exploring the site (19 minutes!). The number of visitors using iPads or other mobile devices has also risen by 90% more”. It is therefore well-deserved that the digital efforts of ‘het Rijks’ (as the locals call it) has won the museum the Innovative / Experimental, the Best of the Web, and the People’s Choice categories.