The NEO Lab aims to explore new ways of working together – both internally and with different communities outside the museum – in order to transform how stories are told and how collections are conceived and used.
Data Exploration Sprint
During a five-day workshop, scientists, designers and developers together with museum staff explored the entire collection data of the MK&G using digital methods. Over the course of an intensive week, the participants developed software prototypes, data visualisations and explorations.
The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Digital Heritage and led by Dr Anne Luther.
Dr. Anne Luther is a specialist for digital heritage and a digital humanities scholar. Her work applies technology, design and humanities research for the interaction, exploration and opening of cultural heritage preserved and represented in digital data. She is the founder of The Institute for Digital Heritage and Principal Investigator for Digital Benin. She holds a PhD from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.
Sara Akhlaq is a researcher and designer. Currently she is pursuing her PhD in Humanities Data and Methodology at TU Darmstadt. Her research lies at the intersection of critical digital humanities and data visualization. She is addressing biases in digital cultural heritage data by inspecting it through an intersectional feminist and decolonial lens.
Michal Čudrnák has been working on digital projects for cultural organizations in the Slovak and Czech Republic for almost two decades. At lab.SNG the Research and Development unit at Slovak National Gallery he has been overseeing the development of Web umenia, an online catalog of artworks from Czech and Slovak galleries, along with web apps for exhibitions, digital services and projects like CEDVU, a collection management system for Slovak galleries.
Max Graze is a freelance data designer. She has a background in biology and linguistics. Drawing on her imagination and technical know-how, she uses code to create visual representations of complex information.
Sereste Samanta Hai is a communication designer and studies “Museums and Exhibitions” for her Masters.
Philo van Kemenade creates tools, stories and things in between to amplify human connection with arts and culture. He works on innovative user interfaces for audiovisual collections at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. He co-founded the digital arts and culture festival Sensorium and is initiator of the Storytellers United network. He has a keen interest in learning and human-centered futures of education.
Maja Kolar is a Designer (MFA), Design researcher, curator and graphic designer. As an independent designer she is working within the field of research, curation, contextual and social design. She acts as a creative co-director of OAZA Art and Design Collective in Zagreb, whose studio practice can be placed at a cross-over between design, publishing, digital and education.
Kathleen Lawther is a museum professional and PhD student at the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies/Institute for Digital Culture researching collections documentation history and practice and its impact on digital museum collections. She has worked with museum collections in English museums for over 10 years. Alongside her PhD she is a freelance consultant specialising in collections research and documentation projects.
Joan Murphy is an Information professional with a focus on metadata standards in broadcast and Cultural Heritage environments. She works at the Digital Repository of Ireland as a Research Associate and holds an MSc in Computing and MA in Digital Humanities. She is passionate about photography, radio and Metadata.
Igor Rjabinin is a developer, researcher, and open-source enthusiast interested in the overlaps between math, art, and programming. Currently, he is doing his PhD in "Digital storytelling and non-linear narratives" at the Art Academy in Bratislava. He is passionate about applying digital technologies in the field of cultural heritage and storytelling and works as a developer at the Slovak National Gallery.
Boris Smeenk is an artist, educator and soft- and hardware developer whose artistic practice explores the intersection between humans and technology by means of experimentation, objects and installations. He currently teaches at the Willem de Kooning Academy where he also conducts research on the role of artificial intelligence in the context of art education.
Jon Stam is an Amsterdam based artist and interaction designer practicing under the name of Commonplace Studio, and Ph D. student at LUCA School of Arts in Belgium. His current research explores the use, dynamic and participatory mediation tools in museum spaces with the aim making the ‘frontend’ of the museum a more active, accessible, and reciprocal space of exchange.
Néhémie Strupler is an archaeologist with a background in the archaeology of Western Asia and computational research methods. He completed a PhD in Archaeology, worked at the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, and was a postdoctoral fellow at ANAMED in Istanbul and at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg in Bern. He was head of the archaeological department of the French Institute for Anatolian Research in Istanbul and is currently a research associate at the Institute for the History of Knowledge in the Ancient World at Freie Universität Berlin.
Valentin Vogelmann is a computational linguist, digital heritage researcher and machine learning scientist. He works as a researcher and digital collection manager at the Dutch National Museum of Worldcultures and is a member of the Dutch Cultural AI lab.
Andy Wallis is a designer from Brighton, England. He graduated with a degree in Art History from the University of Sussex. After working in the museum sector, he has spent the past decade working in design, mostly in local government. He is currently a User Experience and Interaction designer at Surrey County Council, and passionate about delivering inclusive and accessible cross-media products.
Megan Leal Causton is a digital archivist and data scientist. Her research revolves around information systems/governance and enriching archives with interdisciplinary digital methods. She holds an MA from the University of Amsterdam.
Giorgio Uboldi and Matteo Azzi are data visualization professionals, designers and developers.They are the founders of the design studio Calibro, which aims to use the potential of data visualization and information design to provide innovative and engaging visual tools for clients, users and researchers, embracing complexity and aesthetics. They graduated in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, where they worked as research assistants at DensityDesign Research Lab.
Abhay Adhikari (PhD) is the founder of Digital Identities, a global programme to create new models of engagement and social impact. He has been commissioned by organisations such as Google, the Guardian and NESTA and has run Storytelling Labs in thirteen countries with the private, public and cultural sector. Abhay has a research background in biofeedback gaming.
Tara Okeke is a writer and artist from London. Guided by lived experience of care-giving, she works to interrogate and enliven the intersections between people, places, means of production and modes of conservation. Tara was the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ Museum Futures Trainee in 2020, ICON’s 2021-22 ‘Crimes Against Design’ columnist, and part of the emerging critic cohort selected for VAULT Festival’s 2022 New Critics Programme.
With a background in documentary television and history, Derick Armah is a London-based writer who focuses on shaping stories about the connection between people and their place in the world, through written, visual and audio mediums.
Janine Georg is a researcher interested in GLAMs, Medical Humanities and technology; looking at how technology can be used to make museums more inclusive spaces. Janine is particularly interested in VR, Oral History and co-design practices and has worked together with Interreg North-West Europe (EYES), EVA London, and SAVVY Contemporary. Her most recent project focused on the representation of (invisible) illness in collections, for which she set up Oral History of Endometriosis, a project for which she collected interviews with people who live with endometriosis.
Calum Perrin works across visual art, theatre, music and radio. They explore themes of disability, sensory experience and domesticity, as well as the relationship between archival processes and artistic practice. Calum has worked with organisations including BBC Radio 3 and 4, BBC Sounds, Audible, Paraorchestra, VICE, Donmar Warehouse, The Yard, Bodleian Libraries, the Prague Quadrennial and HearSay. They were the artist in residence at the Museum of the Home in 2021.
Benjamin Berry is a composer, music producer and content creator from UK. He has worked with organisations such as Universal Music, Deutsche Grammophon, Yahoo!, AAT and SonyBMG. He produced music for artists including Max Richter, Kylie Minogue and Ellie Goulding as well as for international brands and tv shows. For professional bodies, government and third sector organisations he was working on research, content and campaigns that covered issues such as social mobility, adult education and the gender gap.
Born in Isfahan (Iran), Azam Mazoumzadeh is an award-winning storyteller. She has a background in speculative narration (L’ERG, Belgium) and is trained as a comic artist (LUCA – School of Arts, Belgium) and digital storyteller (KASK, Belgium). Her work has been shown in South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and Belgium. In 2020, her virtual reality project based on the poetry of Omar Khayyam - Glad that I came, not sorry to depart, received a Special Mention at Anima Festival. Currently she is doing a residency in Belgium, working with Fonds Soziokultur in Germany and developing her future virtual reality project.
Konstantina Bousmpoura is an independent researcher, anthropologist, filmmaker and human rights activist. She has been researching, directing, and producing ethnographic documentaries on the subject of dance, politics and activism in Buenos Aires, Seville, and Athens since 2007. Her documentary films were featured in many international festivals and conferences. The long-lasting social impact and constructive dialogue with the dance community in Buenos Aires led her to the digital platform project "Chronicles of dance" to support further the dance sector. Since 2016 she has participated in educational and ethnography-based workshops in Greece. Konstantina is coordinator of the Gender Network in the Greek Department of Amnesty International.
Antonia Stergiou is a political scientist with a specialization in equality and accessibility policies. She is a writer for the leading greek LGBTQI+ Antivirus Magazine. She is a member of the Gender Network of Amnesty International in Greece and part of a research team with a primary focus on social issues. Currently she is working at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
Sebastian Haiss is a designer, lecturer and occasional writer based in Vienna. His conceptual and research-based work is dedicated to organizing information, developing the web and stimulating sensibilities.
Philipp Doringer is a Graphic- & Information designer working in Austria and the Netherlands. He is a graduate from Design Academy Eindhoven.
Experimenta and Prototypes
Based on conversations with our communities, together we develop prototypes that enable new interactions with the collection. We are testing which experiences and access points are relevant for our users and continuously develop them further.
How can we discover objects from the MK&G in a new way? How can users get an overview of the huge collections, of which only a fraction is on display in the galleries? We fed the Open Source Tool Collectionscope with the metadata of the objects that are published in the Collection Online, so that they can be explored in three-dimensional space, arranged chronologically, geographically or by collection. In this experiment, we have gained insights into the reusability and quality of the data and can recognize gaps.
The prototype enables users to reflect on and question their own perception and use of design objects in relation to their own genderidentity. Using the example of seating furniture from the MK&G Collection, the web application poses questions to users and thus contributes to a gender-sensitive understanding of design. The prototype was developed by Fellows Konstantina Bousmpoura und Antonia Stergiou together with Tanya Boyarkina and Oscar Cass-Derwisch and is being tested and further developed for publication.
Starting from the question of how users can add their own stories to the collection, Fellows Tara Okeke und Derick Armah, together with Gloria Schulz, have developed a prototype that gives visitors emotional access to the musical instruments in the collection and allows them to engage with and share their own feelings about music.
Objektforscher is a web application that enables playful and intuitive discovery of the collection. Using artificial intelligence and metadata of the collection objects are displayed based on similarities and thematic groupings. Michal Čudrnák, Igor Rabinin and Philo van Kemenade developed the prototype together during the Data Exploration Sprint. We are currently working on turning this prototype into an application for use in the museum.
Since information and metadata on objects are always researched and added by people, we also adopt our presumptions and inaccuracies in the documentation of objects. Through visualisations, these can be recognised and replaced with more precise or contemporary designations. This tool will allow us to explore the collection primarily for internal purposes, but new search functionality is also conceivable. Sara Akhlaq, Sereste Samanta Hai, Kathleen Lawther, Joan Murphy and Andy Wallis developed this prototype together with Matteo Azzi and Giorgio Uboldi during the Data Exploration Sprint and tested it with data from the East Asia Collection.
Open Data and Reuse
On our NEO Collections project blog we share updates as well as insights and learnings from our journey together with our project partners, the Übersee-Museum Bremen and Nationalmuseum Sweden, our digital partner Abhay Adhikari (Digital Identities) and our network of international experts and friends.