A museum is supposed to represent society’s collective memory, but memory is a short-lived creature in the time we live in. We produce so many things that are supposed to have an expiration date, and especially the younger audience is used to this. No wonder the artwork of old masters feels unrelatable.
Museums… what’s the point anyway?
A key question we should ask ourselves is why do we need museums in 2018? What’s the point of a physical museum when we have photos, videos, and articles available to us on our phone, at home or on the go?
Museums for classical art add lots of value to the paintings by putting them in a context. When you walk around and look at them together in a dignifying building, you get a bigger piece of the story behind the painting. If you have a guide or an audio guide, you can get to know even more about it. The smells, the echoing sound in the room and the physicality of big paintings and their brush strokes and heavy frames create an atmosphere that is hard to recreate.
Our project aims to enhance the museum visit by merging the gap between the physical museum and the digital world. We believe that this can create an engaging, smooth and non-linear experience open for exploration. Modern museums are much more open about using digital media to enhance or supplement the artwork. Can classical art museums learn from this?
So far we have seen kids play games on their phones at Nasjonalgalleriet. They have no interest in paying attention to the old master paintings on the wall. The teenagers use Snapchat while they are on the guided tours, and Chinese tourists take photos of the captions on the wall.
At Astrup Fearnley were told that people look past the art, and rather look out the window and state: “this is true art — the real physical world.” Could it be that they seek comfort in the present, where there is no story, no hidden meaning or code they need understand?
At Nobels Peace Prize we learned that there are barely any teenagers between 16–25 that visit outside of school tours. Some of them do not even know that they are allowed to. The art, or photographs, in this case, is not what impresses them, but the stories of how they were taken, how the photographer was allowed to get in to a certain place or found the people in the photographs.
The untold stories
It is the stories behind that creates the value, just like money; it’s not the paper, it’s the value and what it can give you that is relevant and makes it interesting. Like in this modern day, there were as many intrigues and relations between the popular characters in society as in the 19th century. They had as many, if not more problems than we have. We will be focusing on Nasjonalgalleriet in Oslo, and especially the 19th century art that is there. Let’s see if we can find some juicy stories in the old norwegian art scene, starting off with Christiania-bohemen and the Düsseldorf crew.
(all photos taken by us)