What is needed far more than new facts is a fundamentally new vision of history[1]

(I. van Sertima, 2003)

On October 5th the expert meeting Hacking Heritage: The Audience took place at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. The afternoon was set up as part of the RICHES research program “Co-creation: from incidental to transformative”. In this program Waag Society and the Museum of World Cultures explore the link between cultural heritage institutions and our personal experience of identity and belonging. In an effort to reach new audiences, co-creation methods are tested to improve relevance. In light of the participative projects we develop at Imagine IC, I was invited to take part in the panel Culture Innovating Culture.

Together with colleagues from the Museum of World Cultures, Foam, Derby Silk Mill and Rijksmuseum we looked at our co-creative practices and experiences in participatory projects. From participation with designers on development of more interactive exhibitions to the Rijksstudio and its digitised collection, from intergenerational neighbourhood projects to co-collecting with storytellers. A great new approach presented this afternoon is the DecolonizeTheMuseum (#DecolonizeTheMuseum), a critical community’s collective cause with an activistic approach to decolonising Dutch ethnographic museums. By using Twitter they want to open up the discussions to a broader audience. Creating awareness and dialogue.

This afternoon showed that similar to discussions about participation, what people consider as co-creation differs from institute to institute. And therefore the execution of co-creative projects are hard to compare. Often it still departs from and focuses on institutional goals. Only in few cases you see an effort to come to an equal partnership between needs/wishes of the institution and that of the participants. And sure it is not easy to escape from the fortress we created.

So we like to become more relevant as institutions but this relevance has to be dealt with between the existing frames of what we are and know, within the rules we created through the years to define what a museum is. Within the boundaries of what we can do and cannot do with our collections. The ethics we drafted for ourselves. We created a model which is perfect to function as keepers of heritage for future generations but often it excludes the here and now.

For more information on the RICHES project go to: http://www.waag.org/en/project/riches

Danielle Kuijten

Danielle Kuijten graduated from the Master of Museology at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam 2014. In 2013 she started her own company, Heritage Concepting. Her main focus being projects on participative collecting and intangible heritage. Currently she works on projects for Imagine IC, a pioneer in the field of heritage of the contemporary society. The latest project is the realisation of a community archive on Amsterdam Southeast. Furthermore she is affiliated board-member at the COMCOL, ICOM’s international committee for collecting. Her research interests are contemporary collecting, participative collecting, community archives, intangible heritage and critical museology. http://www.heritageconcepting.nl

[1]     Sertima, van, I. Dr. (2003), They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America, in Journal of African Civilizations, Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition

Images credit: Danielle Kujiten, The Waag Society

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