All over the world, as people flock towards the cities at a speed unprecedented in history, our quality of life and wellbeing, needs to be studied, planned and implemented to be significantly improved and safeguard the environment.
Museums are cornerstones of our society and highly revered and relevant institutions, every day more so. As most are located in city centres, I would like to give you a compressed outline on my thoughts about museums of the future in the cities of the future.
Cities are ultra high-speed growing urban structures where people with a large variety of backgrounds, move to in order to develop projects, learn, enjoy culture, spare time activities and even nature. But cities today are not prepared for that nor to absorb all the other changes we are undergoing globally too. Four main problematic areas are identified, which are: water (lack of or dangerous abundance), migration, inequality and infrastructures. These four -economical-political- factors are shaping the new model of cities right now. The key elements of economic prosperity, social stability, justice and cohesive communities are meant to be integrated between them but also with all other elements and agents a city is composed of, so as to offer that life quality museums also strive for.
Technology and its multiple applications (from data to sensors, from biometrics to led information systems, from IoT to social media diffusion) to absorb high numbers of new urban residents providing better and improved lifestyles while protecting environment and improving sustainable and even circular economy models, are the answers to many dilemmas. Forecasting necessities but also shooting potential problems and solving these before they occur.
Museums likewise undergo quite radical changes related to parallel developments, insofar internal but also external factors. Externally, new museums are built by architects who have researched how citizens behave on and off-line, creating structures that allows digital technology overtaking learning processes seamlessly offering better visitor experiences. These smart and green buildings are the core that foster our deeper observation by facilitating these processes. Museums do attract visitors virtually by having collections online before even visiting the museum. Once at the museum, these visitors are offered manifold options, such as guidance with digital applications on their smartphones, making use of interactive and immersive available tools, being monitored by beacons all of which collect data interpreted to improve and refine how museum audience employs all that a museum has to offer. Internally, museum’s departments undergo changes too, having to collaborate intensely sharing information, as opposed to being separate compartments protecting their work. Stakeholder’s relations are collaterally changing too with the worldwide withdrawal of public funding.
In relation to cities, museums act as social cohesive factors opening up to all types of public allowing for study, research and learning of cultures, histories, customs and origins. Observing an immersive 360º video screen as introduction to an exhibition or having the liberty to choose the artifact or period you want to delve deeper into with AR and VR and having the real object to observe too, or perhaps chosing a curator’s ‘private virtual’ tour with a holo-lens, or wearing smart glasses, all of this is possible as we speak. Museums become part of cities experiences and allow for pre-and post communication, which helps the entity to further analyse data on visitor’s demands. The figures for employment of digital technology and allied applications are staggering, with video, for example, accounting for 60% of data traffic in 2017 going up to 80% in 2021.
Museums are landmarks offering so much more than just a visit, offering ‘real’ views on the century’s past but also projecting and questioning future models of life, involving ethics, integration, sustainability and health with the help and input of citizens. The future cities and museums may be uncertain, but it is not beyond our influence.
Excerpt from a research article by Christina de Vreeze-Cabrera.
Monday, the 24th of April 2017
This article has been edited and condensed for copy-write reasons and brevity.
The Barcelona born and bred painter Jordi Rollán knew from a very young age his drive was to draw, paint and create. The impulse was too strong to ignore and thus his parents allowed him to attend classes at the most prestigious art school in Spain at the time, the Escuela de Artes y Oficios Artísticos La Llotja in Barcelona while also attending classes at the highly renowned Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. He wanted more and his talent was apparent which took him to complete studies at the famous Real Círculo Artístico of Barcelona, where he has been a member for just over 50 years now.
When a scholarship was granted to him by Board of Real Círculo Artístico of Barcelona to travel to France, Holland, Italy and Belgium, his life truly changed. Being and interacting with other artists, exchanging ideas and theories, trying out each other’s techniques was the life style confirming his deep longing for evoking his ideas.
In 1966 he celebrated his first of many more to follow solo-exhibitions in Barcelona and soon after showed at national and international art galleries.
His fame never overrode his thirst for creating from real life images he considered his inspiration: family and women as starting point and continuous references in life. He builds upon concepts of peace, harmony, balance and despite today’s world’s harshness, he is inspired by positive people’s attitudes. Evoking elegantly posed groups, mother and child, or single models, in the Greco Roman manner, signifying the genesis of life. Harlequins or more onerous Mediterranean settings, even flower still lifes are all equally soothing to the eye and mind. His poetic compositions are free and so full of colour that his paintings obtain life, all by themselves.
Years later, once he even dreamt he had invented a colour!
“From Zurbarán to Rothko”
Alicia Koplowitz Collection – Grupo Omega Capital Ω
The 3rd of March – 10th of July 2017
Alicia Koplowitz – a well renowned businesswoman and philanthropist from Madrid, Spain – has created a wonderfully aesthetic art collection throughout her life reflecting her own personal taste, by bringing together important masterpieces from some of the world’s greatest artists and now she wants to share it with the audience.
In 2006, she was decorated with the distinction of Knight within Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her professional career, her social work and her activities in France, and thus it seems adequate she displays her entire collection for the first time in the city of Paris, the global reference for art creation and culture.
The collection is made up of Old and Modern Masters, which – amongst them – seem to foster dialogue amongst the works of art but also across the centuries: antique sculptures and paintings by Zurbarán, Pantoja de la Cruz, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Guardi and Goya can be seen alongside paintings and drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Van Dongen, de Kooning, Modigliani, Schiele, de Staël, Freud, Rothko and Barceló, as well as sculptures by Giacometti, Bourgeoisand Richter.
This exhibition, right in the centre Paris, to be seen in the beautiful (and most romantic) architectural setting by Henri Parent, now Musée Jacquemart-André, was the residence of another remarkable woman Nélie Jacquemart, well-known painter and art collector, who together with her husband devoted their fortune to build an extraordinary collection, pays tribute to one of the most prolific but low-profile collectors of our time.
The fifty-three works invite us to experience the emotion of the collection. Beyond the diversity of technique, épochs and styles, the works in the Alicia Koplowitz Collection all share the same artistic sensibility. They bear witness to a subtle and refined taste, with a certain penchant for female portraits. Whether she is the model or artist, the creator shaping the material or the inspiring muse; woman is at the heart of the majority of these artworks, all of which have been selected by Alicia Koplowitz herself.
Christina de Vreeze-Cabrera, the 17th of February of 2017.
This article is part of the series on “The Future of Museums” research carried out by Christina de Vreeze-Cabrera.
EXPERIENCE IS KEY
As museums being part of fast growing smart cities – increasingly concerned with creating healthy ecosystems to improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life – museums are present playing a key role.
Museums aim at making their exhibits appealing to an increasing variety of audiences while also nurturing their fundamental role in conservation, interpretation, education and outreach.
Immersive and interactive large size screens connected to apps available on tablets provided by museums, individual choice by selecting the type of information on a work of art, artist, medium or related period to be saved a favourite on to your own smart device, virtual reality to experience the époch of a painting, doesn’t that sound like the future ?
Well, the fact is that digital technology is already present in many museums worldwide, offering visitors experiences whereby their personal interactions are related to the exhibition collection, and so constitute an individual path each person choses within the museums as opposed to a preselected choice by curators.
Nonetheless, these same curators (and museum administrators) have designed these new type of visits in order to achieve their multiple missions of attracting more new visitors to their museums inducing interest with new technologies and offering better and more updated education on their collections. Rethinking the visiting method by improving it in order to achieve museum’s missions is the underlying force and not merely the application of new technologies.
VR, AR, intuitive applications, multi touch screens, portable tablets, linked applications to smart devices, at visitor level, all of these “new” digital tools and so many more, confer new meaning to museum visits and seem to achieve museum’s missions.
As scientific studies have proven, people are diverse and learn in different manners, reaching out by letting creativity partly take a role, people retain their own meaningful information provided by these interactive digital gadgets. Still, observing, studying, learning and researching takes an effort to dig deeper in order to have meaning. Retaining and widening knowledge comes through a learning process which involves an intellectual process and effort not to be foregone by the mere use of digital technologies.
The way museums link into the learning process with digital technologies is by fostering emotional engagement and inspiring thirst for more knowledge achieved by – for instance – storytelling, which is the most essential form of human learning (Bruner, 1990) because it establishes a universal way of communication; and because it invites audiences to fill in the blanks with their own experiences, it establishes personal connections, which can be deeper than intellectual understanding (Bedford, 2001; Springer et all., 2004). Thus, in museum exhibit context, objects become closer and more relevant for visitors, conveying different perspectives of the world (Twiss-Garrity et al., 2008) and so, a wider demographic is attracted to the museum.
The explosion of immersive digital technology, combined with recent research results in unlocking how the mind works has disclosed how our brain behaves in digital world on a mind-bending journey throughout the virtual universe.
What will emerging technologies and their -today- radically new applications mean for museums and mankind, for the future of human life and society and what philosophical questions of the self and ‘reality’ will arise related to digital experiences. Virtual and augmented reality future forms including immersive video games and social-networking sites will soon be seamlessly integrated into our museum learning lives and will be part of surprising constructive education possibilities.
Pioneering this initiative in the United States of America is in Ohio, the Cleveland museum of Art, who already in 2013 installed a large-size screen where up to 16 people and up to thousands of works of art can simultaneously be interacted with. Museums that followed suit are in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 2014 and in Australia, Sydney, the Powerhouse Museum. In 2016 New York’s MOMA introduced VR in April followed by the United Kingdom’s London Courtauld Gallery. Many other museums around the globe are currently implementing other digital technologies to enhance learning and audience experiences.
We are at the dawn of the technological revolution where the experience of human being will be deeply transformed by the real and the virtual blend, who need and complement eachother.
The 2nd of February 2017.