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Why Isn’t Every Museum Like the Rijksmuseum?

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Helen Casey, University of Hertfordshire

he Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam claimed great success with its 2012 ‘Rijksstudio’, an app-like website allowing online visitors to curate, download and adapt its out-of-copyright artworks.

This approach to sharing heritage – opening it up to previously unreached audiences and allowing them to enjoy it freely and on their own terms – is something that was predicted by academics and practitioners writing in the early days of the internet (1997-2003). But, two decades later, the Rijksmuseum’s approach is still the exception rather than the rule, so why have so few cultural heritage organisations opened up their collections fully in this way? In this paper, I take the point of view of the practitioner, examining the day-to-day pressures and policies that may have created barriers to digitisation. By examining grey literature, mainly policy documents, I theorise that digitisation has proved challenging due to a ‘perfect storm’ of pressures from policymakers, external funding bodies and the costs and complexities of digitisation itself.

Publicada em: Tecnologia
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Why Isn’t Every Museum Like the Rijksmuseum?

  1. 1. Why Isn’t Every Museum Like the Rijksmuseum? Helen Casey, DHeritage Candidate, University of Hertfordshire Still Life with Cheese, Floris Claesz. van Dijck, c. 1615
  2. 2. Geldtellers, Jan van der Bruggen, after David Teniers (II), 1659 - 1714
  3. 3. The Fête champêtre, Dirck Hals, 1627
  4. 4. Two Men in a Seventeenth-century Interior, Called 'A Conference', Lambertus Lingeman, 1870
  5. 5. Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol, writing master: the smaller plate, Pierre François Basan, after Rembrandt van Rijn, 1733-1797 “This … is potentially a great leveler, allowing people without money or academic credentials access to objects which otherwise require admission fees, travel expenses, or social connections.” Smith, D. (2003) ‘The Surrogate vs The Thing’
  6. 6. Hond en kat in vechthouding tegenover elkaar, Adam von Bartsch, after Martin von Molitor, after Paulus Potter, 1809 “a fundamental incompability between the concept of a museum and the concept of a computer” (Parry 2007) “Why has it taken so long to make computers work for the museum sector?”
  7. 7. Old Woman Reading, Jan Lievens, 1626 - 1633 “The most common request from users (including museum professionals themselves, organising exhibitions, loans, etc.) was for collections information, preferably an object-by- object catalogue, to be available online.” (‘Collections for People’ UCL/Keene 2008)
  8. 8. Storm in the Strait of Dover, Louis Meijer, 1819 - 1866
  9. 9. Goudweegster, Quirin Boel, after David Teniers (II), 1635 - 1668 Reasons not to digitise 1 Cost 2. Time 3. Expertise or IT Skills 4. Fear of Obsolescence 5. Lack of Political Will 6. Privacy or Copyright issues 7. Other
  10. 10. Nazien van de munt van Harderwijk, Bartholomeus van Swinderen (medailleur), 1757 “Museums have been obliged to reduce opening hours and access, introduce charges, cut exhibitions and free events, and curtail school visits and outreach work. Some well loved institutions have closed to the public. This year’s survey has also shown that, in the past year, one in 10 respondents has been forced to consider selling objects from collections to generate income.” (Museums Association 2014)
  11. 11. Portrait of a Painter, probably the Artist himself, Willem Uppink, 1788 “Currently the market for charging for arts content online appears challenging. For research participants the point of the internet is that it is free” Arts Council/Keany, E (2009)
  12. 12. Goudweegster, Quirin Boel, after David Teniers (II), 1635 - 1668 Reasons not to digitise 1 Cost 2. Time 3. Expertise or IT Skills 4. Fear of Obsolescence 5. Lack of Political Will 6. Privacy or Copyright issues 7. Other
  13. 13. The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642 “Different institutions take different approaches, and there’s almost a vacuum of binding legal guidance on how institutions should proceed, so it’s this grey area, this void that I’m interested in” Andrea Wallace, speaking at National Digital Forum 2017
  14. 14. Portrait of a Member of the Van der Mersch Family, Cornelis Troost, 1736 “Developing a reputation for fully embracing open licensing, which would clearly be beneficial in terms of public reach and perception, may create issues for relationships with artists, estates, donors, and benefactors. These stakeholders have a wide variety of views and priorities in relation to licensing and access, and complex and multiple negotiations around access take place when new works are acquired or loaned to NGS (National Galleries Scotland). At present there are not many examples to learn from or adapt of large-scale open practice among institutions with significant in- copyright collections.” Jen Ross, speaking at Museums and the Web 2018
  15. 15. Ferrotypie-tent van de fotograaf, J.Q. Galusha, c. 1880 - c. 1900 2004 Facebook 2006 Twitter 2010 Instagram
  16. 16. Joyful Entry of the Duke of Anjou in Antwerp on 19 February 1582, Monogrammist MHVH, 1582 - 1600 “Museums, galleries and archives have a role to play in helping to exploit the new technologies to generate social cohesion, community involvement and participation, and to aid lifelong learning.” DCMS (2000) ‘Centres for Social Change: Museums, Galleries and Archives for All’
  17. 17. Bakker Arent Oostwaard and his wife Catharina Keizerswaard, Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1658 “There is no evidence that digital technology in and of itself offers a way to engage people with little or no current interest in arts and culture.” (Arts Council 2010)
  18. 18. Still life with flowers, Jan van Huysum, 1723 “The UK’s future will be built at the nexus of our artistic and cultural creativity and our technical brilliance… a powerful combination of talents to project to the world as we prepare to leave the EU.” (DCMS ‘Culture is Digital’ 2018)
  19. 19. Koekoek in storm, Ohara Koson, 1925 - 1936 Global financial crash HLF funding restrictions Inability to monetise Copyright issues Social media demands Political pressures New technology – VR and AR
  20. 20. Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Hendrik Voogd, 1807 Thank you! Questions? Email: helencasey28@gmail.com Twitter: @helencasey28