Title:Taking the Museum to the Streets
Authors:Jette Sandahl, Jakob Parby, Allan Smith, Jakob Thorbek, Lotte Kryger Broe
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

In a digitalised and globalised world, what are the challenges the museum faces when users increasingly experience knowledge as something created through blogs, wikis and other social platforms? In which the museum collections no longer hold the absolute truth, but rather layers of collected knowledge to be interpreted and augmented through interpretation and adaptation by guests and other voices? This workshop will look at some of the practical, epistemological and technical approaches to the challenges based on specific case material.

In April 2010 the Museum of Copenhagen, in cooperation with Gibson Group Ltd and Spild af Tid/Waste of Time, launched a giant multi-touch multimedia installation in one of the central squares in Copenhagen. In the first half year of its 14 hour a day functioning, The WALL, as it is called, has attracted more than 400,000 users, who have viewed more than 2,000,000 images, sent more than 60,000 personal postcards, and maybe most importantly, uploaded 2,500 new contributions of their own. Semi-mobile, The WALL will be moved around Copenhagen over the coming four years. It gives Copenhageners street access to a poetic cityscape of images and knowledge about their city, and offers a platform for all citizens and guests of the city to interact with and discuss the past, present and future of the city. In parallel to the multi-touch installation experienced in the streets, a website connects The WALL, its multimedia database and the museum. Both the website and The WALL support the museum's new profile of having the city as its prime object and being fully embedded in the city.

See a 5 minute documentary on the project:

The workshop will allow participants to get inside the project and discuss the challenges and lessons of this pioneering work, while exploring hands-on the unique user interface on a cut-down version of The WALL - including a year's worth of user contributions.

In this way the workshop will investigate:

  • practical and technical challenges concerning the development of a mobile, multi-touch, user-involving installation, outdoors in the city space
  • hands-on use of the "2D/3D cityscape editor" software that creates the cultural topographies of The WALL
  • the conceptual and epistemological considerations and choices underlying these topographies
  • achievements and lessons from the first year of operation - how do reception, use and interaction correspond with the original intentions we had in the development phase, what are the differences and how can they be explained? Are there things we would have done differently?
  • Does the Wall create a new agenda for future museum practices and for the relationship between cities, citizens and their museums?

Participants are invited to present examples of their own experiences with multi-user and user-generated content installations, and to reflect on their experiences with operating these in a non-regulated milieu.