Museums strive for more presence in the everyday life of the population as well as constant exchange with them. In a joint project, the Baden State Museum in Karlsruhe and students of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology have developed a solution for the creation of digital content that appeals to citizens and museums alike, promotes dialogue and low-threshold learning, and integrates into established online behavior: Center Piece X
New challenges and opportunities for museums
Museums strive for more presence in the everyday life of the population as well as constant exchange with them. In the public eye, museums are mostly understood as locations for physical exhibitions that allow a glimpse of the past. As studies show, they indeed reach a broad spectrum of the population. However, the existing offers are more often used by older, culturally interested citizens with a high level of education1.
If museums want to intensify their contact with the wider public, they have to gain more meaning in their lives. Last but not least, the Covid pandemic has encouraged cultural institutions to enjoy experimenting with digital offers as well as the willingness of citizens to try them out. This opens up new opportunities to expand the exchange. But what does it mean to become more relevant in the lives of the target groups and what does a corresponding offer look like?
When cultural historians meet Gen Z students
In a joint project, the Baden State Museum and students of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Warsaw have developed a solution for the creation of digital content that appeals to citizens and museums alike, promotes dialogue and low-threshold learning, and integrates into established online behavior.
As part of the 9-months SUGAR innovation program, which follows the Design Thinking approach, the team identified interesting target groups, analyzed their needs, developed numerous solution ideas and tested them with future users. The teaching teams of the two universities provided methodical coaching. Towards the end of the program, the team implemented their final solution, Center Piece X, in a first demonstrator.
Target group: People in transition
Through market research, the team identified people who are in a professional transition or a reorientation, e. g. students starting their careers or long-term professionals who are looking for a new meaningful task, as the target group for their solution. Characteristics of this group are fact that it looks for impulses, likes to illuminate them in dialogue with third parties, tries out new fields and draws satisfaction and energy from doing things that correspond to their values. Moreover, the target group likes to use digital channels for this.
The solution: Center Piece X
Center Piece X is an integrated design, dialogue and learning platform. It allows citizens and museums to create so-called “modules”. These can be mini-courses, activities, thematic discussions or stories. Both parties can use numerous media for this, e.g. videos or chatbots. Moreover, museums can make their online catalogs to creators. Museums and citizens can combine and complement modules created in the outlined way in order to form more extensive formats, such as entire courses.
However, apart from the create side there is also a consume side in Center Piece X. It allows users to use available modules and courses as sources of education and inspiration. Moreover, they can enter into subject-specific dialogues with other users including the museums‘ profassional staff. Appropriate incentives encourage this behavior.
Center Piece X is not a closed system. Rather, it is integrated into the natural online behavior of users. This means that citizens and museums can use their creations and discoveries on their preferred channels (e.g. blogs or Instagram). Center Piece X is therefore a complementary online offer to popular platforms.
Between April and June, the team designed Center Piece X and implemented it as a demonstrator. Now it is being expanded. The museum x.o project3 and the hackathon x (vol. 2) of the Baden State Museum continue the further development of the solution. In principle, Center Piece X is not be restricted to the museum in Karlsruhe. It is intended as an open source platform, in which numerous other museums can contribute.
- Kurzeja-Christinck, A., Schmidt, J., Schmidt, P. (2012). Empirische Ansätze zur Typisierung von Besuchern und Fastbesuchern von Kulturinstitutionen – Forschungsergebnisse, praktische Ansätze und Methoden. In: Jahrbuch Kulturmanagement 2012, (1), 199-227, [Download].
- Team Creative Collections at the Baden State Museum [Link]
- Article about museum x.o including Center Piece X on the museum 4.0 Blog [Link]