Museums as multimedia producers. On a mission to create high quality video for art education. Presentation at the Conference “Museum of the XXI century. New educational paradigms”, Hermitage St Petersburg 25-27 Nov 2015. By Rinske Hordijk, Project Manager ARTtube www.arttube.nl
Museums and online video
From pioneer to global network
Videos as an education tool within the museum walls have been proven valuable for several decennia already. Shown online, outside of the gallery context and beyond opening hours, the use of educational video is relatively new. Its use and opportunity has only in recent years been explored by some pioneering museums in several European counties. ARTtube, a collective video platform by top museums in The Netherlands and Belgium is one of the major pioneers in this field.
A short history: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen started its own video platform called ARTtube in 2009, involving five Dutch and Belgian museums a few years later in 2012: The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Gemeentemuseum The Hague, M HKA in Antwerp, Museum De Pont Tilburg. Nowadays, over twenty museums participate in the platform, including the Mauritshuis, Kröller-Müller Museum and many others. Each week new videos are added, up to one hundred each year. Every month, over 20.000 unique visitors watch these videos as a stand alone cultural product, or as a preparation to visit a particular exhibition.
ARTtube’s participating museums are becoming experienced multimedia producers. They broadcast their exhibition program, stories about (collecting) artworks, exclusive interviews with artists and a peek behind the scenes of museum practice. Besides simply adding these video’s to the world wide web using YouTube and Vimeo, ARTtube founded it’s own virtual context for the videos: a rich visual, contextual platform that connects the videos in series, themes and blogs. ARTtube also produces collaborative video series that connect the different museums and tell stories beyond the individual exhibitions and collections.
The need of strong online presence
Over the last years, ARTtube has proved to be a valuable source of inspiration to the audience. This audience includes the existing museum audience, who watch the videos either before or after a visit to the museum. On the other hand, ARTtube also provides for an international audience of art lovers who don’t have the opportunity to visit the physical museum.
To use online video for educational purposes and communication is becoming a greater need for museums that want to keep up with their audiences. Peoples experiences with the museum more and more takes place on the world wide web. We’ve entered an era in which “the visual” and “the experience” is leading in the way people consume their surroundings – this trend is changing the way museums present art and communicate with the audience all over the world.
“Online presence” is the key word, with rich audio-visual museum websites, social media engagement and digitalized, open online collections. Online activity supported by home-made video that relates directly to museum collections and exhibitions, leads to a deeper understanding of the ‘why, who and what’ of the museum. As museums are institutes of great knowledge, contemplation and inspiration, they can supply high quality video content to the Net – content that extends beyond the museums own events and has great educational value. Short videos that bring to live the artists, artworks and exhibitions in an “anytime and anywhere” experience. ARTtubes, as an (international) collaboration on online video, takes these institutional merits to a next level, using all opportunities that new digital media offer to meet the shifting expectations of their audiences.
Common goals: educate, innovate, share knowledge, involve audiences
When the collaborative platform ARTtube was created in 2102, the partner museums described their common goals. The platform had to be a catalyst to take museum video production to the next step and validate the educational value of the videos.
Over the last years, the ARTtube museums developed innovative means to reach new audiences; by getting involved in social media, by using live streaming technology to broadcast special events and lectures, or experimenting with interactive tools on the website or within the museum. This resulted in a broad range of tested video formats, complete infrastructures of filmmakers with great skills to make museum videos, and innovative collaborations with traditional media. For these institutions, video production has become a core business, video itself a valuable marketing tool and a well-consumed source of information and inspirations for their audiences.
Educational value; involving schools and students
In terms of education, this relatively new practice of museum video production opens up the horizon towards new (global) audiences, but also – in formal education – to establish a closer relationship with schools and teachers and new ways of connecting to the learning community. The ARTtube museums have worked together on a shared mission to create videos that take art education to the next level. Video’s about art that appeal to children and youngsters – and fit the needs of teachers in their search for high quality content to use in the art and culture curriculum. A growing number of videos on ARTtube are made specifically for education. They are being produced in collaboration with students, teachers, national broadcasting companies and above all: in collaboration with museum professionals from different Dutch museums.
Examples of educational videos for youngsters
What the Art?! is a series of nine videos for youngsters between the age of 15-25. Under the professional guidance of Dutch broadcasting organization AVRO, the peer educators of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, who are called Blikopeners (Eye-openers) created these videos. They edit, direct and present the program and, with their infectious enthusiasm, spotlight contemporary art. In each episode, the Blikopeners visited a prominent artist or designer in his/her studio, such as Marlene Dumas, Joep van Lieshout and Marcel Wanders. Each episode also contains a ‘video assignment’ by the artist, to activate students in the classroom.
ARTclips. In 2014, three of the ARTtube museums (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Museum De Pont and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam) started a collaboration with the Dutch National broadcasting organization SchoolTV. SchoolTV is a multimedia resource used by primary and secondary school teachers throughout the Netherlands. Children watch educational videos and use the accompanying materials to help round out the lesson.
We invited a well-known Dutch presenter who appeals to youngsters, to go and explore art and museums around twelve different topics. Question that young people have about art, such as “Can everyone become an artist?”, “Why is some art so expensive?’, “What makes a video a work of art?”. These videos again include the peer educators (Blikopeners) from the Stedelijk Museum, but also different professionals such as museum staff, artists in their studios, gallery owners and art students – who’s contribution turned out to be highly appreciated by the young target group.
SchoolTV and ARTtube currently broadcast the twelve ARTclips online, together with educational materials to use within the classroom and/or the museum. As research within the participating museums showed, many teachers use the ARTclips within the curriculum as a general introduction to discuss art and the meaning of art with students. In Museum the Pont, over 90 teachers with school groups took a special “ARTclips” tour in the museum last year.
The Art of Craftmenship. At the moment, five ARTtube museums are involved in a new video series about art and craftsmanship. This series is being developed in co-creation with students and teachers of three different secondary schools in The Netherlands. By starting from scratch, this projects invests in a close relationship with the target group to determine the subjects and format of the videos. No more presupposition of what youngsters ‘might like’, but involving them from the start and take them seriously. A process that is quite a challenge, but already shows it’s well worth the effort.
What makes these examples and our experiences so special is way the museums started working together to create educational video series. Not just to highlight their own collection, but as a collaborative to make art education in the Netherlands more appealing to students and teachers and suitable for expectations in the twenty-first century.
Rinske Hordijk, Project Manager ARTtube