Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication

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Rijksmuseum campaign on No Photography Allowed – some thoughts

Photo: Rijksmuseum.

Photo: Rijksmuseum.

The ongoing campaign at Rijksmuseum, banning photography (in a humorous way) and encouraging visitors to draw art, has caught the attention of media:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam wants visitors to enjoy its collection of artwork the way it was appreciated in a pre-cellphone era, by leaving their devices and cameras at home. Through their #Startdrawing initiative, they’ve “banned” technology, encouraging people to bring their sketchbooks and draw the beautiful paintings, prints, and sculptures in front of them—as opposed to quickly recording it all on their phones.
My Modern Met

Rijksmuseum believes that media has devolved a visit to a museum into “a passive and superficial experience,” according to its website. “Visitors are easily distracted and do not truly experience beauty, magic and wonder. This is why the Rijksmuseum wants to help visitors discover and appreciate the beauty of art and history through drawing, so #startdrawing!
Huffington Post

An argument could be made supporting the claim that the curse of this generation is that in an effort to stay more connected, we are actually less connected than ever. As we busily doodle on our phones, we are missing the world around us and the present moment. Being so focused on our phones means we are distracted by our surrounds, by life as it passes us by.
SLR Lounge

So does this campaign achieve it’s goal? To encourage people to truly look at art? I am sure this will be a great success, by drawing attention to the art and the interaction with art. It’s a brilliant idea, in several ways. By adressing a much discussed topic of mobile phones, selfies, photography and museums, and by showing a different way of interacting with art.

However it is at the same time unfortunate to actually target people’s desire to take pictures in museums, a desire that obviously is very strong considering the amount of photos taken in museums every day. I am also afraid this will give support to anti-photography opinions.

To take pictures in museums, to walk around using the mobile phone, is one very important way of interacting with the museum. As I have looked into the Instagram photos taken by visitors at Nordiska museet it is clear that these photos are just one part of the personal Instagram feed. A feed that is in itself a narrative, the story of me. 

Depending on what kind of story the visitor wants to share with his or her audience, the photographic trail from the museum visit will look very different. Some take many pictures, some take one. Some put great attention to details, tell a story with the photos and sometimes include themselves through selfies, and others just take a picture of the building.

For museums it should be of great interest to further look into the Instagram feeds of their visitors, and into the photos taken and tagged at the museum. Which objects or exhibitions catch most attention of the visitors? How does the visitor include him or herself into the narrative? For the visitor’s own narrative is perhaps the most important aspect of the museum visit. So ask yourself: How does the museum fit into it?

The only story I am consistently interested in is the story of me, the one that I am “constantly writing, rewriting, editing and conspiring about.” It’s the one story that I am constantly tuned into all the time.
Sapient Nitro, India 

I think offering opportunities to interact with the museum in several different ways, like drawing the museum art, is a necessity. But don’t confuse visitors by removing their own tools for creating the story of me.




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Surprise me #Blogg100

Watching the Eurovision Song Contest is a tradition in many Swedish families. And of course, I’ve written about it before. Yesterday was the final contest in Sweden, the time to nominate the song that will be represent our country in the ESC in Austria in May .

The winner was Måns Zelmerlöw. Perhaps not the most amazing song in my opinion, but an excellent performance. The singer was interacting with an animated character. Also not the most innovative idea perhaps, but it was executed in a perfect way, that was totally different from every other competing song. A surprise, and an entertaining moment. Obviously he won.

Take away: Show something that the audience have never seen before, and do it with emotions, with humor and passion and do it in a flawless manner. There you go, the recipe for the successful museum.


Blog post 13/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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”When the people claim a picture…” #Blogg100


The film roll by Alberto Korda. From Wikimedia Commons.

I am very fascinated by photographs that become icons, claimed by people all over the world. There are by now countless examples of photographs of this kind, perhaps the most famous one is the portrait of Che Guevara, by Alberto Korda. Another one is The Scream that I have written about in a previous post.  Now the photographer and visual storyteller Platon tells in this video by CNN about the portrait of Putin that by now has been claimed by numerous communities.

”When the people claim a picture, and it somehow connects with the times we’re living in, that’s the greatest honor we could wish for.”
Platon Tells The Story Behind His Portrait of Vladimir Putin, Petapixel.com


Blog post 17/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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Meet the staff on Twitter #Blogg100

National Gallery of Art

Another rolemodel in how to use Twitter for cross organisational collaboration, staff training, outreach, building a dialogue and create awareness among the staff for the use of social media: Yesterday the National Gallery of Art in Washington participated in a Twitter initiative. A Twitter discussion with the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the National Archives, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Two experts were available to answer questions.

During World War II, American “Monuments Men” were deployed as military officers to protect historical monuments, art, and archives in war theaters throughout western Europe. These men and women worked to protect cultural heritage, ensuring its safety in the aftermath and returning works, when possible, to their rightful owners once peace and security were restored.

Take part of the Storify here >>


Blog post 10/100 #Blogg100 challenge


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No more email #Blogg100

Image by Christopher S. Penn, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-ND.

Image by Christopher S. Penn, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-ND.

Imagine when you get to work tomorrow there is no more email. No inbox to check, no emails to read and reply to. Would you manage?

No other communication channel is so overloaded with irrelevant information as email, there is spam, numerous messages from mailing lists and new letters you never subscribed to. So what if we were referred to social media instead like Yammer?

The daily number of emails sent by professionals peaked in 2008 and has been declining steadily since. Similarly, young people – tomorrow’s professionals – vastly prefer social media and texting to email.
‘Are we at the end of email’ by Ryan Galloway

As with many steps in embracing digital tools and services, we are in reality still far from leaving email behind. Though it isn’t just tomorrows professionals that prefer using social media for communication. Many of us use Google docs, Google Groups, Yammer, Basecamp, Facebook and Twitter to communicate with colleagues around the world. But perhaps not as much within the organisation or the company.

Without addressing administrative, security or practical issues it is however an interesting thought. Would my every day life be easier? I definitely think so.


Blog post 5/100 #Blogg 100-challenge

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Not yet obsolete #Blogg100


In 2012 I discussed in a post how digital now ought to be so integrated that there is no longer need for ”digital” staff. In a sense I still believe that, but today the digital staff has become more of a strategic resource for the organisation, a facilitator and a catalyst, more important than ever.

Digital competence should be everywhere, in all parts of the organisation. This is however a slow process. Most museums are on a tight budget and schedule and the time for educating staff, performing pilot projects and experimentation just isn’t there. Not all museums have staff dedicated to digital with the assignment to maintain and develop a holistic and strategic view of the disruptive digital eco system.

One way to speed up the slow process of integrating digital into the organisation is to enable experimentation in real projects, let go of ”lets do what we always do”, make room for small pilots in every day work. This requires less control and more trust in the staff.

Together with regular staff training in digital tools and services, this can speed up a process that will otherwise take a very long time.

Where does that leave the digital expertise. Well as in the quote from Brian Solis above, during the process of becoming digital, the digital expertise is there to support, lead the way and make sure the organisation arrives at the right place at the right time. After this? Maybe the digital staff, that already has to work across the organisation with strategies and plans of action might very well play a central role in the development of the museum.

This is something I will explore further in my upcoming blogposts. And there will hopefully be 100 new blog posts in the next 100 days (as I have once again accepted the challenge of the #Blogg100 initiative). Other things that I intend to write about are methods and specific tools as well as pay attention to great initiatives within the museum sector.



So what about Blogg100? More than 500 Swedish bloggers are today starting a 100-day blogg event, that will end in a meetup in May. Last year’s challenge, with more than 600 bloggers and 16 000 blog posts being published, ended with a seminar about blogging, attracting several well known speakers as well as notable bloggers.

I myself managed to write a mere 33 blog posts in the challenge. This was much less than I had anticipated. And my goal this year is to do better. Not just blogging for the sake of it, but to challenge myself to develop my thoughts on cultural heritage and digital tools, services and communication.

So… this is the fresh start of my blog in 2014. Blog post 1/100.