On Wednesday, 11 November 2015 we have gathered once again at the National Museum of Contemporary History in the framework of projects of the EMEE – EuroVision: Museums Exhibiting Europe and Accessibility of cultural heritage to vulnerable groups to perform the second museum tea party. This time we invited for a chat the three representatives of the main Slovenian museum organizations: president of the Slovenian Committee of the International Council of Museums ICOM, Tanja Roženbergar M.A., president of Slovene Museum Association (SMS), Aleksandra Berberih Slana Ph.D. and president of the Slovenian Museum Society (SMD), Flavio Bonin Ph.D.
At first, all three guests have presented their professional organizations to which they preside. ICOM is committed to the development of museums and museum professionals, whereas it connects the Slovenian museums and museology with the international space. SMS represents and promotes the museums and galleries and links them with the aim of solving professional problems and statuses, while the SMD is a professional association of Slovenian museum workers, which also aims for the development of Slovenian museum profession. Further on, they continued with evaluation of Slovene museums and a museum profession from the organizations’ point of view; and have in this manner highlighted the strengths and the gaps in the functioning of the Slovenian museums. They presented some good examples of museum operation and projects, which show that Slovene museums implement the modern museological directions: accessibility, public participation, responsiveness to current events. In this context, they also discussed the museums responding to the current refugee situation and thus combined the two features of contemporary museum: responsibility and involvement.
Our lovely guests also spoke of the importance and power of heritage and museums in our space and pointed to their weak strength in comparison to the situation abroad.
You are invited to listen and watch the video (this time unfortunately only in Slovene language) from the tea party.
Imagine a bunch of smartphone and SocWeb lovers placed in a national gallery, where you are greeted with Please, turn off your cell mobile phones and other such requests at the entrance. It’s just like Wacky Races with a hint of sophistication – alive, loud, fun, perhaps a bit messy, however no competition against one another, but rather a search for the best and favourite museum piece and the before unseen.
This is exactly what happened on Tuesday evening in freshly renovated National Gallery of Slovenia, when it closed its doors for the public. We had a remarkable opportunity to walk around the gallery with lovely hosts, take photos on every corner and also see every bit of the gallery, although the grand after-renovation opening follows in a week.
They took great care of us, once all gathered, had quite some surprises up their sleeves, and they even prepared a sweet testing of their new cake Luiza, named after its inspiration – Stroj’s Luiza Pesjak. I greet their hospitality and boldness in allowing a rather large group of people to walk around the still not completely finished gallery with pleasure. It was interesting and appealing, even for someone, who used to know the entire permanent collection by hard.
All I can say is – I wish there were more such events around museums and galleries.
The feeling is slightly surreal, yet comfortable. / Kar nežno čuden, ampak udoben občutek.
And my favourite – the one, who outgrew the frame (Vavpotič’s wife). / In še moja najljubša – tista, ki je uspela prerasti okvir (Vavpotičeva žena).
Exhibitions are not dead, they just smell funny …
On Wednesday, November 4th 2015, we connected the two main museum projects in Slovenia: EMEE – EuroVision: Museums Exhibiting Europe and Accessibility of cultural heritage to vulnerable groups; and organized the first museum tea party, hosted at the National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia. In a pleasant Eurovision Lab. exhibition space – The Time Capsule – we hosted four most interesting guests: a historian, who is also a museum professional and a designer, as well as a lecturer at the FH Joanneum – Dr Karl Stocker; Erika Thümmel, also coming from Austria, a restoration specialist, a designer and a lecturer at the FH Joanneum; and the two guests from Slovenia: dean of the Academy of Fine Arts, Boštjan Botas Kenda; and director of the National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia, Dr Kaja Širok.
The purpose of the first museum tea party was to share the experiences, ideas and suggestions about the role of design in museums. With our guests we’ve talked about effective, thus interesting museum content presentation. Karl Stocker, who due to the demands of his work frequently visits museums, commented that museums are mostly boring. With a provocative statement that the “exhibitions are not dead, they just smell funny”, he wanted to point out that many of them still are extremely traditional. Since the museum exhibitions have primarily a schooling effect, rather than comfortable and fun environment for gaining of new knowledge, they are often perceived as tedious and without the connection to a wider social context. Museums should be more geared towards the environment in which they operate, their work should constantly be evaluated and upgraded, as well as in Stocker’s opinion the curators should take more risks and also experiment sometimes. The most impressive exhibitions for him are those, who manage to offer him an experience he did not expect.
We also touched the relationship between the curator and designer, which often seems to represent a problem in the Slovenian environment. Both designers have claimed that the most essential thing in the museums represents the content, and not the design. The content is a bridge that connects the museums and visitors, whereas design is its subordinate. They also identified the information design, which involves in transformation of the desired messages into clear information to effectively reach the target group. Karl Stocker substantiated his thinking with visual examples of good practice and innovative approaches.
All of you, who crave for more of the happening at the tea party, are invited to listen and watch an event video in two parts.
We really like to talk a lot about the museums. This is how it is, if you work in the same field and you face related issues, goals, challenges, insecurities. At some point however, we realized, we wanted to talk about this also with the others – with museum staff, museum professionals, curators, all who are interested in museums. We also dreamed of a cosy atmosphere, open debates and stunning experiences of others. That’s why we came up with the idea of Museum Tea Parties. Therefore, we filled the EuroVision Lab. central exhibition space – a Time Capsule, which was itself already welcoming the guests with its cosy and homely atmosphere, with chairs and invited guests, with whom we wanted to chat. Each of us took over one tea party, therefore three events lined up in a row to wake up the sleepy November evenings. To make sure, everything was as it should be, we dragged a pile of different cups from home, which were accumulated over the years, and we cooked litres and litres of tea. It was, the way we wanted it to be – visitors were greeted by the pleasant aroma of tea and coffee, guests were very pleasant and chatty, and thus we were able to discuss most interesting topics.
Since we wish there would be more such events, and we know many of you couldn’t make it to the museum tea parties, we have prepared the next three posts as a short summary of the evenings with video recordings of the museum chitchats.