Museums and the Web

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museums plattform nrw

NRW KULTURsekretariat Wuppertal ( in cooperation with the museums of modern art in North Rhine-Westfalia (NRW, Germany)
Concept and realization: art & sciences-concept, Muenchen; Translations: Dr. Elisabeth Schäfer-Wünsche, Cultural Translation & Politics, Duesseldorf

The "museum platform nrw" is a German public website initiated by the NRW KULTURsekretariat Wuppertal (literally: the North Rhine-Westphalia CULTURE secretariat Wuppertal). An ambitious project, it has from its inception received support from the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The platform brings together NRW’s museums of modern and contemporary art and was established to present their extensive holdings in a virtual space called the "virtual museum of modernism nrw". As a webbased museum network, the platform is the first of its kind in Germany. It includes large collections of modern art such as the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K20/ K21 (Duesseldorf) as well as smaller and less-known museums like the Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen with its important exhibition of kinetic art. The platform was conceived as a work-in-progress and has kept expanding.

The "museum platform nrw" provides access to modern and contemporary art housed in an area that has grown into a unique museum landscape. North Rhine-Westphalia, the heartland of German industrialization, has historically been a hub for collecting modern art and may by now well have the highest density of museums worldwide. Especially the “Ruhrgebiet,” the region that has taken its name from the river Ruhr, has emerged into an emblem of industrial culture and architecture, and currently carries the title “Cultural Capital of Europe 2010.” Its art institutions, including the spectacularly rebuilt Museum Folkwang (Essen), have clearly been one of the reasons why an entire region came to be voted a cultural capital. As to the curatorial concept of the "museum platform nrw": it was developed in close collaboration with the respective museums and their staff.

Highlights of the platform: > It is professionally edited. > It is set up for research as well as general art appreciation. > It focuses on artists, themes, and locations, on perceptions of modernism and contemporary art. > It provides histories of the collections. > It offers personalized, guided virtual visits. > It encourages personal visits to the physical museums and stresses the historical, cultural embeddedness of the institutions. > It has about 75,000 visitors monthly.

While the website is set up in German, it has placed major emphasis on also allowing English-speaking visitors to easily navigate the site and enjoy the treasures of the "virtual museum of modernism nrw." Quite a few of the works displayed and art movements represented, indeed document an intense transatlantic art and culture exchange (e.g. the European Fluxus Movement based in the Cologne/Duesseldorf/Wuppertal area; works by Jackson Pollock, Donald Judd, and Bruce Nauman contribute to the large body of US-American art in NRW). With its expertly written descriptions of the works displayed, with its artist biographies and cultural histories introducing the locations of the physical museums, the website wants to serve a transnational community ranging from art historians and museum professionals to those who are simply interested in exploring the many facets of modern and contemporary art. Like the platform itself, the translation of the ever-growing body of German texts available is of course also a work-in-progress (short-term infos are not translated).

The works exhibited in the "virtual museum of modernism nrw" can be accessed from the museum platform on three different levels:

Level 1,  the "virtual museum of modernism nrw" is designed as an art display. It consists of four "exhibition areas" or "rooms" providing paths that lead to artists, museums, and the locations of the museums, but also to themes that provide yet another approach to access the collections.

Level 2, "platform search," is designed as a realm of systematic search. It offers direct access to the platform collection through a quick and a specified search. The results provide information about the physical sites of the works, and they also lead back to the various exhibition areas of the "virtual museum nrw."

Level 3, "service / planning your visit," is set up for organizing and downloading the art material collected. It can be printed, organized and filed, and downloaded on the visitor’s computer. This level also offers highly useful information for personal visits to the physical museums and provides a collection of links with further suggestions.


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