I would like to share a personal story – my own moment of digital transformation – that came back to me recently at one of the Europeana New European Bauhaus Cafés. Many years ago I was a weaver by trade and exhibited as an internationally renowned textile artist. I created all kinds of colorful clothes, for sale in craft stores, to pay for more wool and more time to weave. It has never been a profitable artistic career or a profitable industry, so like most artists and artisans, I turned to teaching. This is how I started working at the Israel Museum – as the manager of the weaving workshop. Inspired by the Bauhaus spirit, we believed in the purity of craftsmanship; being able to engage with the world through form, texture and color. We felt it was the Museum’s responsibility to ensure that our students could bring home a skill that would prepare them for creative and productive lives.
However, at some point in the late 1980s, we realized that these types of traditional skills were no longer attractive to our students, and, in a pioneering move, Nurit Shiloh Cohen, Chief Curator of Education, decided we needed a new media studio. ! I was sent to retrain and we bought our very first set of Macs. From the early 1990s, our small studio in the heart of the Museum trained students in the basics of digital production. A few years later, we were able to go online with our little howling modem and started teaching web design.
In the not-so-distant future shaped by the new European Bauhaus, what do you think a visit to a cultural heritage institution will look like?
I am waiting for the moment when we remove the term “digital” from our lexicon and accept the realization that this is just our way of doing things; in libraries, museums and archives across Europe.
How can the sector support this vision?
It is not a vision; it is a reality and the less you care about it, the better you can integrate this way of doing things to become productive and creative individuals.
The new European Bauhaus encourages interdisciplinarity – Commissioner Mariya Gabriel described it as “a bridge between the world of art and culture on the one hand and the world of science and technology on the other “. How can the cultural heritage sector work with other sectors to make a contribution to the initiative?
In my role as Senior Curator of New Media at the Israel Museum, I realized over the years that each of these worlds spoke its own language and it was up to my team and myself to find a common vocabulary for allow a fruitful conversation. In the museum, we really had to bridge the gap between the different states of mind. Curators spoke in jargon when describing their collections, and the tech team had their own language and terms. This meant that we had to constantly switch between the two worlds. This is the lesson that could inform the digital cultural heritage sector as we work cross-sectorally on the new European Bauhaus – acting as a bridge to listen and learn from each other in order to travel together on an informed and creative shared journey. .