What if Museums Were More Social?

What happens when we really stop and pay attention to our experience?

What happens when we really stop and pay attention to our experience?

We both love visiting museums and other cultural cathedrals for the new impressions, thoughts and perspectives that they often give rise to. However, all to often we would leave an exhibition feeling inspired and curious but lacking someone with whom to share and make sense of these new insights in depth.

We started thinking about creating a community around the museum experience, a time for reflection and dialogue where visitors could meet and mingle with new ideas, people and perspectives. The purpose being not only to explore the depths of the artistic intention but to connect the experience to a wider palette of thoughts form art, science and culture in order to highlight the universal within the particular.

Earlier this summer we were finally able to turn our vision into reality together with Fotografiska, The museum of photography in Stockholm. Our first Tankesalong took place on June 3rd and revolved around Martin Parr's exhibition Souvenir

Below you will find some of the highlights from the evening.

At 6PM we welcomed visitors by handing each of them a folder containing one of four different ways of experiencing the exhibition with new eyes. Some were instructed to explore the photographs from different perspectives, others to focus on and question what they found most boring and others to look for patterns across the exhibition. The purpose was to bring attention to the subtle things that we often take for granted and to switch off the autopilots that all to often determines our reality.

Four different ways of experiencing the exhibition with new eyes.

Four different ways of experiencing the exhibition with new eyes.

With booklets in hand guests got to make their own way through the exhibition, noticing details and paying attention at their own pace before meeting up with us an hour later at the top-floor.

Turning a trip to the museum into a communal activity

Turning a trip to the museum into a communal activity

Why do we put up with incessant small-talk? What would Socrates do?

Why do we put up with incessant small-talk? What would Socrates do?

At 7PM we all met at the live-stage where we introduced the purpose of the event and provided some short background on the history of conversation from Socrates and Plato and the Salons in Paris, to Freudian psychoanalysis, instant messaging and social media. Using the colored folders we divided people into pairs where they got to discuss questions connecting the exhibition to broader reflections on love, meaning, work, culture and identity.

Connecting "blues" to "reds" and "yellow" to "greens"

Connecting "blues" to "reds" and "yellow" to "greens"

Following Proust's advice by giving each other time to become interesting

Following Proust's advice by giving each other time to become interesting

After 20 minutes of dialogue we divided people into new pairs who got to explore a new set of questions from our tailor-made conversation-menus.

"What is it like living inside your head?"

"What is it like living inside your head?"

"Parr says that we need the bad in order to understand the good. What is the purpose of cheap entertainment?"

"Parr says that we need the bad in order to understand the good. What is the purpose of cheap entertainment?"

Taking the opportunity to discuss some of the questions ourselves

Taking the opportunity to discuss some of the questions ourselves

After another 20 minutes it was time for a new change of partner and one last session of conversation.

Skipping small-talk and moving directly onto questions of art versus propaganda

Skipping small-talk and moving directly onto questions of art versus propaganda

"What do you most appreciate in others?"

"What do you most appreciate in others?"

We had a lot of fun and hope to bring the concept back to Fotografiska later this fall!

Also, click here to listen to us talk about the event in the podcast Fotosidan.

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