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Fostering the unexpected
Looking into the current development of museums and galleries and forecasting into a
not to distant future, one might expect the following:That most museums and galleries will
adjust to the challenge of new media in the sense that they will have at least a web site with
standard information. Many more than today will have some additional content and
functionalities online as well as offering CD-ROMs related to their collections and
exhibitions. Additionally, in many more exhibitions one will find computer displays, with
overviews of what the exhibition presents, audio-visual sequences and in-depth background
information (that can also be accessed online). In contemporary art museums, due to more
reliable and stable technologies, new media art forms (e.g. video art) will become more
To achieve this would be already something.Yet, with regard to what opportunities ICTs
provide and what cultural industries are and will be offering, one might expect more or
even something completely different from cultural heritage institutions. Drawing on view-
points of experts that participated in the DigiCULT-study the best strategy for an insti-
tution would be not to invest in predictable formula, because there is no distinctive power
in them.They would need to develop projects with themes, content, and interactivity,
which the public consider unique and compelling. Pia Vigh, Director, CultureNet
Denmark, highlighted that cultural institutions would need to offer things that are
challenging, involving as well as entertaining,"and a way of doing that is to perhaps be a
little more bold at developing ,stunts` on the Internet and engaging in risky business, and I
am not talking about risk when it comes to financial projects, it does not have to be very
expensive projects, but risky projects when it comes to content." (DigiCULT ERT,
Edinburgh, July 24, 2001)
One approach how the unexpected could be achieved was described by Jeffrey Shaw,
Head of the Institute for Visual Media, ZKM: An audio-visual archive or museum "could go
to any of these companies who do museum design and they will give you a predictable
formula or even a better formula".Yet, another strategy would be to set up an artists in
residence programme for two or three artists a year "and then each of these artists can get in
and experiment with these collections, each one is going to do something different, and
each one has got its own agenda; and then suddenly this archive will come alive and there
will be a continuum of new angles to it. It will always be reborn through the eyes of
whatever the artists is doing. And I think, here is a strategy, which can do something with
this collection not one time, not one bit decision, but it is dynamic, it is changing.What
museums should be doing in terms of new media should be something very experimental
and very fluid and very open." (DigiCULT Interview, June 29, 2001)
Involving communities
As represented in the DigiCULT four layer model above, involving communities (other
than scholarly users and cultural heritage experts) can be done in very different forms two
of which will be addressed in this study:
Providing an online environment and communication tools which allow for
participation and contribution in communities of interest, not traditionally affiliated
to museums or other institutions that exhibit cultural resources;
Building protected user environments for communities of learners that produce
their own exhibitions or other results of working with cultural resources (e.g. school