How a museum can break down the walls. Experience

What is the main purpose of a museum or an exhibition? Sometimes it looks like the museum is only created for keeping historical objects in a safe place where you can only have a look at the artifact. But sometimes museums tell us the story of the object virtually and become accessible for everyone.

A good example of this is the virtual exhibition created by the British Council; ‘Museum without Walls’. Initiated for the first time in 2017, it can be accessed by anyone having an internet connection. There are three editions of the project. We’ve asked Su Basbugu, Arts Manager from British Council Turkey about the ‘Museum without Walls’ and how its experience can help other exhibitions become accessible for everyone.

The first exhibition of ‘Museum without Walls’  is called 'I Dreamed A Dream The Other Night'.

“This exhibition was born from a simple curiosity: how do people in different periods of time connect with nature when faced with a feeling of ephemerality, either as a result of the profound changes surrounding them or due to an idiosyncratic questioning of the relationship between loss and time? Bombs fall, loved ones pass away and yet rivers continue to flow and flowers to blossom with every breaking day, as if nothing has happened”, description states.

The second edition is entitled 'You Look Familiar'.

“It is is a captivating and diverse collection of portraiture from the British Council Collection. The title of the exhibition, which nods to our instinct to feel close to the familiar, invites the audience to meet a diverse range of faces. Through the medium of portraiture, we are encouraged to join a conversation about culture, society, identity and politics. The exhibition leads us to reflect on how portraiture has changed over the 20th and 21st century”, description states.

And 'Dancing With Witches’ is the third exhibition of the platform.

“The exhibition takes inspiration from a current focus on the witch/woman as a symbol of power. It underpins the role of female artists whose presence and influence within the history of Western art has been concealed or swept aside” description states.

 – What is the main idea and goal of the ‘Museum without Walls’?

The ambition behind creating the ‘Museum Without Walls’ is to propose an alternative and innovative digital tool to accompany and develop current exhibition practices and to build deeper and wider engagement with audiences without the boundaries of time and space. To say shortly, we created a digital exhibition to make arts accessible for all.

– What are its differences from other similar exhibitions?

We are using a wide range of tools and methods to make the content accessible, such as sign language translation of all the texts, description of all the works. But we are also working with editors to make the text more accessible for the general audience so that a person visiting an exhibition for the first time would relate with the content and create his/her own experience.

– Why is it worth seeing? What interesting exhibit items people can see there?

We offer a unique and wide selection of works from the British Council Collection, side by side with works from local artists from Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The British Council collection holds more than 8,000 works. Some of them are in display in museums all across the globe, some of them travel nationally or internationally but most of them are in storage, waiting to be showcased and presented to the audience. ‘Museum without Walls’ breaks this wall. The digital presents us the opportunity to showcase works all across the globe without taking them out of storage and pairing them with local talent.

– How can this project influence people?

It can influence them artistically. It offers new ways of showcasing visual arts. It uses the power of the digital, while also being challenged by its boundaries. It is both innovative and conservative. It creates a new conversation between the curator, the artists, the designers and the visitors.

It can influence them contextually. It will help them re-discuss the importance of accessibility, how to centre it in all the work that we do and how to talk about it.

Basically, it will influence them to reimagine the extends of arts and its impact over society.

– How does the concept of Museum without Walls challenge the idea of a museum as an institution?

It is not about challenging the idea of museums as institutions but rather re-discussing the idea of institution. What an institution should offer to its visitors, how an institution can be present on the digital, what are the limits of the digital and how are they challenging the traditional museum? Those are the questions we ask and still try to find answers to.

But mainly, ‘Museum without Walls’ tries to break the walls of the museum both  literally and conceptually. It aims to offer a safe space to its visitors where they would be equal no matter what they backgrounds are and they would create their own personal experience stripped out from the barriers of time and space.  


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