Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

5. Correlation with the local productive process

The local economy and the local context are decisive elements in how 'rooted' are people in their own culture. This means certain values are passed on over the generations and determine as well the models of integration for the young people growing up in such a setting. For instance, every person speaking at a conference in Bochum in 2009 would refer to mining experiences or else speak about friends and relatives who worked in the mines.

It has been an emphasis in Volos, Greece to seek and to encourage local production. How a museum can facilitate local production depends in turn what are the special skills e.g. boat building became the reason to have the Argo boat constructed in Volos in 2006.

Innovative networks

Museums linked to the local productive process are very much like opera houses for once rooted in the local community, they can provide local people with jobs and different types of contracts as the nearby infrastructure develops and expands to include other services e.g. poster making, requisites, write ups, guides for conducting visits from the museum to local places, bus and other tour operators etc.

In reference to experiences made within the CIED project, museums link up with the local community once they become altogether a part of an innovative network to facilitate the protection and promotion of cultural heritage in the city altogether.

Different types of linkages

There are, of course, differences between types of museums and how they connect to the local community. Besides folkloristic and other types of local museums reflecting life of the local community, there are other and very special linkages e.g. Auschwitz museum and the Youth hostel in Auschwitz being operated by the Judaica Foundation in Krakow and which organizes study tours into villages in the Ukraine, Hungary and elsewhere to show visitors where Jewish people lived before 1939 and what can be done now to integrate Jewish into European culture.

Another special type of relationship to the local productive process is the corporate museum located usually either directly beside the production process or on the very site e.g. the OTE museum in Athens or the Mercedes Benz Museum near Stuttgart besides the Daimler-Benz car manufacturing plant. Here museums serve the purpose of giving the entire production process a broader perspective. Naturally this fulfills many purposes, among others, tracing the innovative process by which research results and innovation in the development of a car from the engine to the design to who used it becomes another entry point into social and economic history. It depicts also the transformation process of production and can be said to be more the contemporary part of any industrial heritage museum.

Then, there are others, which have no immediate relationship to the immediate locality but which service in a larger sense the community nevertheless e.g. Eugenides Foundation and the Planetarium in Athens (see interview with Glykeria Anyfadi).

The local context – at the level of the city

In terms of the relationship between museum and local context, it is important to name all tasks of a museum

It will mean practical involvements extended into training and education of different types of courses and events.

All these actions and activities are a measure of the museum’s management capacity to undertake several actions at one and the same time.

The example of Dortmund is that a conscious city policy will ensure that the promotion of the multi media goes more in the direction of qualifying for the future and hence into the economic process itself and not so much remaining a phenomena treated exclusively by the museum(s) who are not in a position to know what to select in order to preserve for the future since the values of the future are not yet known.

In the case of Linz, many cultural activities are identified as needing special consultation processes in order to be implemented in co-operation with the region and the federal level. This reflects in turn the difference between city owned museums and museums run either by the region or even by the national level. In the UK cooperation is strived for by cross sector themes to further joint actions.

Museum – Cultural Development Plans and Policies of locality, city and region in Europe

All this differs when museums are viewed from a strategic point of view as factor of local, regional or even national development and linked as such to ongoing efforts to relate culture to tourism. In the UK the MLA has initiated a concerted action plan with the government to bring about a ‘Renaissance of regions’. The purpose is to help local governments and regions improve in terms of their performance indicators so that more subsidies can be given to the cultural sector and thereby to the museums operating in their jurisdiction. This means there is a refinement possibility linked to a deliberate policy and matched by a certain implementation process being monitored among another indicators by a performance indicator applied not only to the cultural but all other sectors with regards to local governments.

As this brings the discussion about the role of museums when it comes to stimulating local production processes in response to progress being made in research back to the question about what policies are being implemented at the moment, integration of culture in regional development can be facilitated by museums. It goes without saying that activities of any museum should reflect then the cultural policy adopted not only by the city, region and federal state but be in accordance as well with the European Union as long as social and economic cohesion holds at this level. Here an interesting aspect is the view that cultural heritages in Europe can become a common source of European identity.

The discussion about cultural heritage as factor of regional development has been one of the main theoretical points of the HERMES project, and in that sense the Wieland Museum further underlines what is meant when museums are opened at a location so that the immediate and until then neglected area by tourism shall be supported. This deliberate policy to underpin a regional strength considered till then relatively weak and neglected or even underestimated, shows that culture can be used as factor of development. [1]

Museum Policy in the local – global context of the twenty-first century

Following terms should be taken into consideration when attempting to link modern technology to museums and how they wish to present cultural heritage as part of an ongoing experience connecting a specific past at local level to a present being challenged by global developments. It should be a conscious museum policy to make this dialogue between the local and global level not only an ongoing reflection but also into a ‘narrative’ – the stories to be told of how the city and its people find their way into the future.

i. narratives

Museums are nothing, if they are not capable of telling a story. Peter Higgins’ first question in Volos was when evaluating the chances for the creation of a History of the City Museum: how to open the archive to see what things are there by which such a story can be told. When Leipzig did an exhibition about the history of that city, the curator asked people to donate single items for key time periods such as 1933 – 45. Subsequently a Jewish man who escaped concentration camp and emigrated to New York donated the suitcase he had used at that time to carry all his personal items when leaving for the New Continent.

The narrative is a re-account and can take on many and various shapes. Here it may even help to solicit the opinions by poets, writers, while listening to what stories parents tell their children and how children see adults as to what they stand for. Often this inter generational dialog limits what everyone can see, hear, think of and reflect upon all while trying to link up with meaning of place and oral history.

Some further methodological considerations may clarify the role the narrative can play in museums and then what means are used to illustrate these stories. Sometimes it should also be reminded that overuse of technical means e.g. virtual trip through a city may provide certain illusions the sensation of being suspended over the city, but it is quite a different experience when walking through the streets and giving an account as did James Joyce of Dublin.

Some further examples may illustrate the possible use of the narrative:

Altogether the narrative or stories told will reflect what key principles underlie any museum or rather what policy is being implemented. Stories are told already by such artifacts that emphasize only the order in the city whereas other stories may exist side by side but which were not given either in their time nor nowadays their due recognition.

Once a city moves towards having many museums with their own stories, then it becomes even more interesting what aspects give entry into an entire new dimension. Maurizio Carta in Palermo said this is best described by an innovative network linked to certain sites and functions e.g. marine museum beside the sea, children’s toy museum near the community centre etc.[2] Once this is incorporated into the Master Plan of a city, then such aspects as traffic linkages, status (public or private), identification possibilities of the local population with “their museum” (see how Carol Becker talks about the people of Brooklyn in relation to the Brooklyn museum often not known to those coming to New York to see the Modern Museum, but hardly ever that museum known so well to its own local people) will come also into play and give shape to the success or not of the museum fitting into the cultural landscape.

Even if no one is able to attend this conference about “Story Telling in Museum Contexts”, it does indicate one important aspect of modern museums: their capacity to tell a story.

To a museums expert like Peter Higgins the ‘narrative’ of even a small item is very important. In his museum created in a football stadium he has the story of one spectator coming to the stadium in order not to watch the football games, but to see how the lighting in different stadiums affect the perception of the game.

Wondering what our WP 3 – museums und multi media can do to enrich among other things also contributions to the Internet Radio, it might be interesting if all HERMES partners just pick one story about a museum that has left an imprint upon them.

There are already some stories posted on the heritage radio e.g. Museum of Krakow about the pilgrimage road that shaped Europe. Here is a first indication of how our common cultural heritage can contribute towards the perception of our various cultural identities, or rather how we see ourselves in the mirror of others.

The creation of a museum is itself already a story. Another story is about a museum run down and in need of new ideas to get re-started. In our discussion with the Greek artist Maria Papadimitriou we entered her temporary museum that she created in order to show her interactions with the Roma living outside of Athens. The very temporary nature of her museum shows also the dialectic between the past and the present as much as between the future and the present. Once values are no longer secure, there is not knowing what needs to be preserved now in order to have value in future. Especially the fast changes in the multi media make preservation work that much harder while things seem to be easier, technically speaking, by entering the digitalization process.

Thus I wonder myself what values and guidelines museums should use nowadays when it comes to the use of the multi media to tell a story. Is this medium really suitable or is the story to be told in need of the power of the real as compared to the suggestive realm of the virtual?

Then, in the recent past, Andre Malraux spoke about the ‘imaginary museum’, one that is created by every individual artist in his imagination for he or she would like to have the own original work hanging beside the most famous ones that this particular artist has admired and made into a measure for own work.

I would like to take this opportunity to address to all one question.

Since Burkhardt Kolbmueller, Sebastian Schroeder and two other people from the Bauhaus University in Weimar (with speciality being multi media and therefore connected to the work on the Wielandt Museum in Weimar) shall be coming to Volos, Greece, and given the fact that we shall then discuss the planned conference in Volos on “Museums and the Multi media”, I would like to ask: WHAT INNOVATION IN THE CREATION OF STORIES THROUGH MUSEUMS ARE GOOD PRACTICES WHEN IT COMES TO THE USE OF THE MULTI MEDIA TO PRESENT CULTURAL HERITAGE?

ii. movements

While the technology world means movement due to a change in energy being transformed into something else (bicycle, car, locomotive, airplane, rocket), a person entering such a world of movements (whether now of images or of the person itself) will search for the ‘unity of perception’ (Parmenides) at different levels of abstraction. As Viktor Weizsaecker showed in experiments, a person walking will perceive many more details in the landscape around him compared to someone running. The latter will abstract and look only for dangers like stones or other obstacles over which he might stumble. An extension thereof is as vehicles become ever faster, the less resistance they will have to experience if they are to move unhindered. Compared to the old roads, a super highway is already an extreme alienation from nature and shows to what extend movement displaces one of the oldest and most important cultural heritages: the natural landscape.

With any movement go a typical kind of observations and give rise to certain associations e.g. many people thought with the coming of the train people will grow sick and cities will die as Expressionists depict it as if a iron rod is punctured into the heart of a city.

There are many ways of understanding movements. Already small children are fascinated by something moving. As a matter of fact movements are decisive for experiencing and tracing the path of innovation. The Greek poet Pindar in Ancient Greece left a fragment in which he noted when the Goddess took the person in her chariot out of the city, as the axe was starting to grind faster and faster in the hole, smoke came out of that hole as the wood put up strong resistance and a proper wheel had not as of yet been invented.

By creating movement both by himself and through other means, man begins with poetic experiences but then extends them into further going observations on how to fulfill certain dreams e.g. landing on the moon. Once movement can become a scientific observation, it is translated from a metaphorical description into an analytical and empirical classification system. As such human development goes side by side at certain times with a technological induced development.

Thomas Kuhn took this a bit further by iterating how differently was the impression of energy being created and used to move things in the case of a steam engine compared to those high speed trains that glide over the track at 200 Km in an hour and still the person traveling in that train does not experience anything of that fast movement. As a matter of fact, people resort to poetic metaphors to bridge the unexplainable with what is happening to them, and thus a woman sitting in the train can write if the kiss per SMS did not arrive, then it is because of the high speed of the train.

There are many beautiful movements to be seen. The silhouette of the photographer leaning against a pillar in Cap Sounion while the sun is setting down shows that in certain places reflections of these kinds of movements – the sitting still at a certain time of the day – can take one through the ages. In Greece, the poet Ritsos when seeing an old woman stepping out of her hut was suddenly reminded of ‘ancient movements’ by the way she walked.

iii. reality as difference between the concrete and the abstract

Peter Higgins says nothing virtual in a museum display has any meaning, if not shown in terms of the power of the real. People cannot associate only to something, they must taste, smell, feel it and be able to take the experiences further. As the case with movement becoming ever faster and thereby bringing with it an abstracter way of ordering things, the power of abstraction resides in being able not to unify things as much as putting things under certain principles. The latter is a logic working by subsuming things under certain key categories.

Michel Foucault in ‘The Birth of the Clinic’ demonstrates how a new definition of a healthy human being went hand in hand with the nation states of the nineteenth century requiring new soldiers for their armies. Consequently a certain selection principle was applied and repeated in hospitals organized now in treating people according to only certain identifiable sicknesses or injuries while excluding many other aspects of the human malaise. The power of the abstract is really entailed in the ordering principle suppressing the concrete human being, or as Foucault puts it, the person asking for the reasons of the pain disturbs the diagnosis process of the doctors.

The interplay between imagination and movement can be best perceived in what experiences of the world allow mankind to stay in touch with reality. If movement makes the relationship to the world more abstract, then the contention of power has to be concrete at a certain point in time. In terms of time and space it means human history has attempted to become completely independent from any concrete location, while the counter movement has been always to stay rooted at one place.

In terms of stories to be told, this is the interesting point: even while space odysseys have become virtual realities in a digitalized world presentation, it is clear that cultural heritage differs from such extensions into outer space. Museums using the new digital world of presentation experience already very quickly the limits of this technology since people will not come again if the story is not told in an imaginative way and hence does not give them the sense of experiencing something new if they would come again. So no matter what different approaches to things are being taken, the need to be linking content with the imagination means the story must always begin and end with a concrete location e.g. the departure of Jason from Iolkos – near modern-day Volos - in order to head for Colchis of the Black Sea while it remains a lapse of experience nowadays that the way there does not seem to count so much as just reaching the destination. This has lead to a reverse of what may be considered the inner compared to the outer world and gives museums thereby a chance to help define human reality anew.

iv. dialogue with the past

Access to cultural heritage can be found best through dialogue with the past. HERMES can enter these dialogs and reflect upon current European policy measures applied to present cultural heritage. This should not be done at random, but within a systematized order of interpretation, if only to question this very order as an inadequate classification scheme. Precisely the versatility between form and content matters in terms of the taxonomic structure used to collect and to identify materials as being relevant to the story to be told. As the case with a detective seeking to resolve the case, it does matter what details are either included or excluded, when presenting the full facts. It still matters what ignites our imagination and lets our senses trust when things end up going in a certain direction.

Like the flow of the river, it would be good to depart in this dialog with the past from the ancient wisdoms and then proceed like Socrates with questions as to what can be known really about them, what not. But at every juncture of time, there is a discovery which can be rediscovered in order to rekindle the overall learning process humanity has gone through over the ages in order to not merely survive at a purely simple level, but at such levels of refined tastes and abilities to seek pleasure that happiness as condition of life continues to be of major interest as to what makes new discoveries and experiences possible. In that way different distances from the event can draw certain conclusions about was then a novelty but today a questionable thing since its usefulness has been reduced to but a mere demonstration of how things were done then but no longer today.

Still, by entering a lot of these very localized dialogues all involving some kind of sense for time and place, people and their history, it means a lot if something can be said forcefully and faithfully to reality about certain periods of time that mankind had to go through before being able to discover other things, things that might exist just around the corner but to where they could never get to if they had not undertaken that other first and very important step. In the case of the Argonauts this was the realization that not just any boat could make it across the torrents and streams when attempting to enter the Black Sea but that it would require a longer boat to allow for more rowers.

This increase in power meant, however, developing new joints in the wood for no single tree was long enough to cover the entire needed length of the boat. But then that is but just one demonstration of many other possibilities to see and to reflect upon how one thing lead to another and thereby changed afterwards the whole perception of the world. For once the boat did manage to go where others could not travel before, not merely the Fleece was retraceable but the very concept of movement linked to accessibility altered the perception of man as to what he can do and what would be desirable to do so in future, namely to go still further as if wanting always to test the limits.

v. the cultural framework of museum policy

The cultural framework is influential upon what leads and shall lead to a definite identity making process. Once cultural heritage is linked to what ideas about the past future generations can obtain from their elders as they grow into society, that influence becomes evident in all kinds of cultural and social manifestations. Of course, there is a difference between static societies in which the same job is being performed over the generations compared to rapidly changing societies where industrial jobs vanish while the new ones are being created all the time as the Information Society takes shape.

The same applies to museums: what they show, what not will influence the identity building process. It is not an innocent process and gives rise to the question but for what identity processes do museums stand for?

As a child may have different ideas about the father once knowing what he did in the war, so it matters if some crucial details are left out when a city, region, nation or Europe begins to retell its story.

It would alter the composition already once it become clear that sustaining democratic practice depends upon finding and retaining access to such a process starting from ancient wisdoms and going through the hard learned experiences made since then when it comes to governance and rule of the land.

In particular, museum policies will have to be evaluated in terms of what they show to people so that they recognize themselves in terms of history. Any curator knows by showing how things were not only done, but left unfinished, then the incomplete, the things done not in vain but often rejected then, can become today a potential for the future. There are many things which make up a part of the story. It depends on how they are told and that is why the ‘narrative’ based on cultural heritage becomes so important.

If heritage is to be connected with culture, then also by coming to terms with all kinds of failure, including the failure to prevent war. Learning out of the past to shape the future is a special task and needs to be defined as an ongoing re-interpretation of what we know about the past.

Case studies:

Te Papa and local-led Developments


Implications for improving effectiveness



Example of Salford University:







Top of Form

Bottom of Form
























Martin Murray
Chinese Arts Centre
Burnley Youth Theatre
Ansell & Bailey
Organic Waste Management
Mayfair Developments
Cinnamon Pod
Harwill Engineering
Garic Portacabins

Karen Padmore
Linda Piper
John O'Hare
Mikhail Polshaw
Neil Briggs
Tanya Evans
Simon Campion
Abina Wheeler
Duncan Walker
Robert Stone

Karen Padmore
The Centre for Virtual Environments
The University of Salford

The Contact Partnership
Mensi Surveying Products

Example of Projects Project Name: National Chinese Arts Centre Duration: 5 Days

Description: Virtual National Chinese Arts Centre

Company Web Site: www.chinese-arts-centre.org

The Chinese Arts Centre contacted the VETS and asked if we could produce a Virtual Environment model of their proposed new premises. The architect for this development was the award winning OMI and they worked with the VETS and were able to make rapid changes to the design utilizing the equipment and expertise that are available.




The model was viewed initially on the large Reality Room Screen that enabled OMI and the Chinese Arts Centre to conduct collaborative design. This enabled the Chinese Arts Centre representatives to gain an idea of the scale, space and structure of the design that it is not possible to convey with conventional 2d plans. It also allowed OMI to quickly conceptualize various ideas. For example a lower ceiling height in the reception or moving the serving counter to save space.

The final model was available to view on the Reality Room Screen and also converted to RTRE and a video fly through was produced.

We also have a low quality video clip (4.99MB), a higher quality video clip (8.88MB) and an RTRE model (14.7MB) available.
If you would like more information on the Chinese Arts Centre Visit their web site

RTRE is a realtime rendering solution created by cubicspace.
The RTRE files are stand-alone executables that you must download to view.
In Internet Explorer, Right click the link and choose Save target as... then choose a location.
After downloading, double click the file to run it.
To navigate, use the arrow keys on your keyboard or follow the on screen instructions.

Example of the Brain Project – Eugenides Foundation, Athens

Here citizens are brought together in order to advance a research project with perspective of what information of scientific value should become the base for information passed on to a general public when coming to a museum. To make a citizen guided knowledge base into a key guideline for a new concept of museum presentation is novel as it is also another way of bringing citizens not only closer to science, but also to Europe. For the project is being implemented within the framework of a European project and thereby shows that citizens can participate. As the case of citizens’ forum when it comes to testing the validity of civil protection in case of major crisis (earthquake, flooding, industrial accident, terrorist attack), validation means above all bridging the gap between expertise and knowledge to which citizens have usually the access. Naturally access is but one factor when it comes to designing a future exhibition and display of objects with scientific value; another is what notions, apprehensions and basic knowledge citizens have in general due to various factors such as education, socialisation process, work experiences, media related programs disseminating scientific knowledge. Especially this means what level of literacy has been attained within a certain period of time and how could the museum facilitate an upgrading in knowledge and in furthering scientific methods to gain further knowledge. As this shows a specific value orientation and reflects the need of society to upgrade both accessibilities and ways of disseminating further scientific knowledge, this citizens’ participation in a project aiming to show how the brain works has numerous direct and indirect outcomes. One key outcome will be the design of such an exhibition with texts that are comprehensible according to the standards set by these citizens learning how to deal with expertise know-how. For instance, an interesting part of the research is clarification of terminology in use, research findings linked to interesting hypothesis and alterations in knowledge due to further advancement in technology itself e.g. development of microscope, computer lasers, etc. As this is linked to advancement in neurology sciences, the citizens in helping to prepare a new exhibit through such a project enter the innovative process of science, society and at a larger European scale new forms of co-operations and networking as a culture to share and to exchange experiences. [3]



[1] For further discussion on this topic see Culture and Regional Economic Development in Europe: Cultural, Political and Social Perspectives, edited by Alex Deffner, Dimitrios Konstadakopulos, Yannis Psycharis, University of Thessaly Press, Volos 2003

[2] Maurizio Carta, “Palermo: The City of Opportunities – an Industrial Heritage Network Plan”, CIED Conference in Leipzig, 1998, CIED Archiv.

[3] See Report of the European Workshop, “Connecting Brains and Society – the present and future of brain science – what is possible, what is desirable”, Proceedings and Synthesis report, 22. and 23.April 2004. The overall objective of the project is “to design and to implement a new way of interactive governance at European level. It aims to do so by making a concrete and tangible contribution to the public deliberation on brain sciences, research and development and related ethical and socio-political issues”, p. 11 Needless to say, this includes also the political issue of stem cell research and where the wider public needs to be informed by museums among other institutions in order to have a qualified opinion on this and other crucial subject matters.

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