Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Presentations and discussion points at museum workshop in Volos 2005

The workshop was held in Volos, June 13 / 14, 2005. The following presentations were made and then followed up by discussions:

   Prof. Jens Geelhaar, Interactive Design of Bauhaus University

   Trifon Trifonof, National Museum Boyana Church, Sofia

   Andrzej Rataj, Ethnographic Museum Krakow

   Katerina Tsaligapoulou

   Sebastian Schröder


Concept and design of the Wieland Museum outside of Weimar

Presentation by Prof. Jens Geelhaar, Interactive Design of Bauhaus University

- the museum was opened on June 25, 2005

The technical information system for the Wieland museum has been designed by the Bauhaus University. It means i-podster system for obtaining and gathering information. Visitors can go through the museum and be informed, i.e. click to get additional information and collect it for a later print-out at the computer terminal in the last room.

A similar system has been installed recently at MOMA in New York. I-podster will mean visual contact mediated by virtual reality in order to make possible experiences over and beyond immediate objects. With this kind of information system the museum wishes to provide insights into the works and life of the poet Wieland. It is clear that this will be made possible without any interference of a museum guides (there will be only one person sitting at the front desk to hand out the i-podsters). People can go through the chronological ordered rooms and acquaint themselves with the poet in his own estate where he lived more than 14 years.

The system has been tested already once and was considered to be a success. But as shown by the MOMA system, there are still some technical difficulties to be resolved. For instance, the Wieland system will have for the moment no video since it would require too big a broad band for the transmission of information, especially if there are many users at the same time. Difficulties may also be in the automatic system providing information according to location but only in a sequence with the visitor going forward and not back.

From an information system point of view much depends on the data bank and how it can be accessed. There are three stereotypes of visitors conceptualized: tourist, interested visitor and expert. The original text to be read in full is always at the bottom of the hierarchy of information (some asked if it should not be the other way around: first the original, then the contextualization and finally interpretations + discussions).

Discussion points / general remarks

Burkhardt Kolbmüller: There is also the broader perspective linked to the Wieland museum, namely to be located outside of Weimar so that this will have a regional impact upon tourists and visitors seeking to find their way to the museum. Naturally it can be expected that few will unless something else is organized: scientists gathering for meetings (at ground level there is a conference room) or other kinds of study groups.

Hatto Fischer: there are several points to be made!


The need of visual communication in European heritage studies

by Trifon Trifonof, National Museum Boyana Church, Sofia


                                         Boyana church, Sofia

Some basic discussion points:

Discussion points:

Hatto Fischer: one aspect may be neglected by the conceptualization of cultural heritage according to multi media standards is that modern technology even of the most sophisticated kind cannot deal readily with complex artistic materials, ideas and concepts. As a matter of fact artists find themselves usually at the border of the technical capacity, and therefore they try to test what expressions these technical tools allow, what not.

Another aspect is the question of intangible cultural heritage – meaning, memory – which cannot be reduced to visual images so easily.

The capacity of a museum is a measure as to what it does allow to make such experiences which are not predetermined by solely interacting with the artefact within the scope of the multi media. That would reduce experience to something technically defined and constrained by technical means having been made available with not all users capable of knowing and using the full potentialities thereof.

Certainly HERMES should concern itself with a design of a modern curriculum linking cultural heritage and multi media.

Andrzej Rataj: there are many more definitions of museums but he finds a review of current curriculum for teaching future museum workers a very useful idea.


Digitalization of Cultural Heritage

Andrzej Rataj, Ethnographic Museum Krakow


Discussion points:

Vasilis Sgouris: what happens to museums if the framework conditions change? The museum must adapt, however, to what the public wants if it is to continue to survive as an institution. Obviously there is a kind of supply / demand relationship in need of being understood as basis for museum policy.

Jorgios Gangas: certainly the revenue from entry ticket is too little if only 1 Euro but as Andrej Rataj replied the Polish society is not very rich and in particular those who tend to go to museums will not have much money to spend.

Carol Becker: the museum offers a rich experience from what can be seen on the slides, therefore, it would be important not to polarize the discussion into here traditional, there modern ways of representation; clearly some management decisions will have to be taken to secure a viable basis for the museum.

Hatto Fischer: the identity crisis of the museum to which Andrej Rataj refers to is a spill over effect of the former times when under Communist rule everything had to be accessible to the worker, so the standard phrase, while culture was really a matter of the elite and still legitimized as something like an extra educational system for the masses of workers. Nowadays the worker has been replaced by the ‘citizen’ even though we know that those who go to museums for different reasons do so out of numerous reasons, curiosity being but one motivation.

Carol Becker: Interesting is if a museum succeeds in being ‘seductive’ and thereby speaks to something deeper and more unconscious than what ordinary media languages are aiming at. If the visual effect is seductive, people will wonder why they were affected by that item or this document of the past. If this motivates them to inquire further, then the museum experience will have been worthwhile.

General comment: about ICOM stipulating any museum must have at least one day entry free and the problems it creates e.g. in Zakopane as ski resort one would expect people go there to spend some money but when it comes to the museum there all crowd in on the day when entrance is free; they have even the problem of crowd control with the situation getting easily out of hand and turning nasty when people have to be turned away at the entrance.


Museum for the Olympiakos football club

by Katerina Tsaligapoulou


Discussion points:

Chrysa Zarkali: Why not contribute the data bank to the Sports museum in Thessaloniki? Rather than being a museum for one football club, it would be a different approach if we would upgrade the sport museum in Thessaloniki.

Katerina Tsaligapoulou: Some of the reasons for not doing that are linked to the issue of property and copy rights. Besides we want to keep the cups we won as a club. It is a part of our identity and history. Naturally the museum will not be only about Olympiakos. We will have this general section about the history of football and also what is connected to athletic sports requiring high performances from the individual athlete.

Hatto Fischer: It is interesting to note that Katerina mentioned they are going to seek recognition as a museum. In my presentation I will present some of the ‘ethical’ issues connected with if a corporate museum, that is when not the contents of the museum are meant to be promoted, but the image of the company that owns the museum. I suppose the same issue will arise in the case of the Industrial Heritage Museum in Tsalapatas, Volos for it will be managed by the Piraeus Bank. Are these then cases of corporate museums seeking recognition by ICOM as museum? Naturally there is another role of the museum worthwhile mentioning. It can contribute towards avoiding violence and football hooliganism by replacing fanaticism amongst the followers with a more cultivated and civil approach to the game as such.

Jorgios Gangas: Is it an overestimation that a museum can contribute to a non violent atmosphere amongst fans of football games or help to resolve the problem of Hooliganism, for how can the museum contribute to making football more of a cultural event?

Hatto Fischer: Peter Higgins from landdesignstudio in the UK has created a football museum in which this effort is made: to reduce violence by also drawing attention to outbreaks of violence amongst football fans. There is a definite way to draw attention to what was even a plea by Otto Rehagel and the Greek football team after they had won the European cup 2004, namely that now football in Greece should become again fun so that parents would want to take their kids to the stadium. It would mean not to take these events as something fanatically to be defended but to enjoy the athletics of the sports, if that is possible.

Peter Higgins pointed out that the football museum in which he was involved in doing there is a unique story by a man who studied football stadiums from the point of view what lighting they use. As we know from theatre and the language of deception, lighting has a lot to do with how we see things. Again this underlines the key thesis that museums narrate things and they can be judged by what stories they tell (or suppress).


To those listening to Katerina’s story about the museums which will safeguard also all the cups the Olympiacos team has won and who were not fans of the team, it was to some of the people present at the workshop agonizing to realize how many they had won already. Of course, it meant they were fans of other clubs.


The organization of Museums in Weimar and links to local development

Presentation by Sebastian Schröder



                     Castle in Weimar - seat of Classical Foundation of Weimar

Sebastian did not develop any full fledged ‘theory’ but developed instead a set of questions for each of the three key terms: museums, cultural heritage, regional development. As set of questions he connected them by means of some observations e.g. how Effie Pappas had defined museums in her presentation she gave in January 2005. In his opinion once museums go beyond mere collecting and preserving cultural heritage of the region and thereby contribute towards the identity of that region, it can be seen already as a contribution to regional development.

Note: in the READER made available for the workshop, there is included a note by Miriana Iordanova about various definitions of cultural heritage within the European Spatial Development Perspective – the official document for Interreg financed projects which have to deal with spatial questions and therefore regional development perspectives.

Burkhard Kolbmüller: Weimar is actually a bad example. After the Cultural Capital City concept was completed in 1999, tourism receded and now people stay in Weimar perhaps only 1.4 days. They no longer visit the area surrounding Weimar. This is bad for everyone. Especially many museums had to be closed, in particular the Museum of the City. It explains also that the city of Weimar is not really involved in the HERMES project since they have many financial problems at local level.

Vasilis Sgouris: But the Foundation Classic Weimar is financed not so much from the local community but receives federal funds and is really a bit of a strange body outside the consciousness of the local population.

Burkhardt Kolbmüller: well, that is true to some extent but it changed last September when unfortunately the Amalia library burned down and the people of Weimar suddenly realized what treasures in cultural heritage the city has thanks to the Foundation but not only, and what was lost in that fire. Since then there is a qualitative improved relationship between citizens and the cultural heritage of Weimar.

Hatto Fischer: Yet the Foundation is itself in a crisis. There had not been made any internal evaluation since 1989 so that it sparked criticism and even a review by the highest council of Science. Proposals were made to reform the foundation while people were fired. As far as information reached members of the HERMES project, out of 320 people 40 were made unemployed. Then, in a historical perspective, the overall composition of the population changed. Before the Second World War, there lived the enlightened citizen. After 1945 and the separation of the two Germany’s many moved in while those who moved in were not enlightened in the same way. After 1989 the population drain from the East to the West affected also the overall economic and social base of Thuringia. Of interest is here that HERMES is practically the first Interreg project in the region.

Burkhardt Kolbmüller: we have started now a new project in collaboration with the Tolstoy Centre in Russia. It is a centre that employs even more people than the Foundation Classical Weimar and has many more facilities. It will be interesting to see what impact this cooperation project will have on the Foundation in Weimar but it certainly revives historical linkages.

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