July 31, 2012

Backstage Pass at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Wikimedians visiting the MNAC romanesque collection commented by one of the museum's curator.
If you are a museum geek you may know that most of the museums close on Mondays. And if you are a "hardcore" museum geek you may once have dream on visiting the museum while is closed, walking through one of your preferred rooms and enjoy your favourite art pieces in a quiet ambiance, asking questions to the curator of the collection. That is exactly what a group of 12 Wikipedians did it yesterday, at the National Art Museum of Catalonia,  the MNAC, in Barcelona. 

Part of my residency at the MNAC museum project is to build bridges between the museum professionals and the local community of Wikipedia editors. This is why yesterday we organized a whole day of Wiki activities where curators and Wikipedians met and discussed about their ways of working. 

Let me explain you how the day passed:

Two ways of seeing art 
10:00 - Welcome
Conxa Rodà, museum's head of strategy, welcomed a group of 11 Wikipedians, explaining us that Wikipedia is an important part of the digital strategy project that the museum new direction just started in 2012. 

10:15 - Romanesque Backstage Pass
Then one of the museum's Romanesque section curators walked us through the Romanesque collection, where Wikipedians had the opportunity to ask questions about art pieces they are working on Wikipedia, and take as many photos as they wanted to.

11:00 - Meeting with other curators
When we finished the first backstage pass we went to museum's library, where Wikipedians spent one hour explaining to museum professionals how featured content is created, what is notability on Wiki world. Even museum's director, Pepe Serra, joined the conversation and explained us that museum's goal is to make our heritage available to different layers of public, and it's obvious that Wikipedia is consulted by millions of people worldwide. I founded this part of the day very interesting, as curators have a really good will on collaborating in the #glamwiki project but we are still all learning the best ways to do it. And meeting with the other part is the very best beginning for finding the common ground. 

12:00 - Modern Art Backstage Pass
It's great when curators share they knowledge with passion

Museum's collection is huge, so we decided to focus on quality among quantity, and we did our second backstage pass tour of the day on the Modern Art Collection. Catalan Modernisme is one of our most interesting and creative periods and is very well represented at the museum's collection. So everybody had a great time. Lots of new wiki challenges and projects started from curators explanation of  Fortuny, Casas, Gaudí, Nonell.... and several other Catalan painters. And we will improve the Wikipedia article of ''The Battle of Tetouan'' , one of museum biggest paintings up to a featured article. Challenge accepted.

We took photos at the warehouse collection :-) !! 
13:15 - VIP Level: Warehouse visit
And then...magic happened. When the security guard opened the heavy doors of the museum's warehouse, a big and general "wooooow" was heard. When you enter in these kind of rooms, you feel
a little bit like Indiana Jone's or like the children of the Goonies, you are freezed by being in front o a treasure. It was the moment when we thought: This is one of the reasons why we do LOVE being Wikipedians.


14:00 - Conservation-Restoration Labs 
Wikipedians and restorers working together.

Then Mireia Mestre, head of the Conservation-Restoration labs of the MNAC, showed us one of the restoration workshops, where restorers where working on a Romanesque altar frontal.... and they asked for help to a Wikipedian specialized in Medieval heraldry. Solution to the mysterious bassoon wasn't found... as the Wikipedian always need to ask for references. But we will keep collaborating.

16:00 Mini edit-a-thon  
After a nice lunch kindly funded by the museum, Wikipedians spent the afternoon at the museum's library, improving all the Wikipedia articles related to their preferred artworks.

It is very important to put together people of different ages, education, background and opinion, in order to create new things together. Museums are opening little by little to local groups -as Wikipedians- who love the museum's collection as well as the professional curators. Only in this way we will together generate new discourses and keep on going.

1 comment:

  1. It was a real pleasure to welcome you wikipedians to the MNAC. We are deeply convinced that working together Musuems and Wikipedia we can create more and better content, reach more audiences and serve them better.

    Thank you for your volounteer and good work!
    Conxa Rodà