When Europe became modern

Caillebotte: Rue de Paris, temps de pluie

Election for the European Parliament is coming up. As EU citizens, today, despite internal differences, we belong to the richest part of the world’s population. But did you know that in the late 1700s, the standard of living in Europe was hardly greater than in the rest of the world – and probably lower than … Read more

Occasional Museum Picture #8

Musée d'Orsay

Normally you would be looking at all the interesting objects that are inside the museum. And the Musée d’Orsay in Paris for sure has some impressive objects to look at. However, the look outside from within what is now a museum, but used to be a railway station, through the glass-face of a gigantic clock towards the Sacré Coeur, is no less fascinating.

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Occasional Museum Picture #6

According to sociologists, such as Anthony Giddens and others, modernity is characterized by its reflexivity. Here is a self-reflexive museum for you: the Cité de Sciences in Parc de la Villette, Paris, reflecting itself in the silver dome of its own IMAX movie theatre. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by the science … Read more

The museum as Public Domain

Today I attended the conference ”Sharing is caring – digital cultural heritage for all”. Lots of interesting presentations and discussions about how museums can – and should – use digital media, to make their collections more accessible, and to turn their audience into participants.

To do this we of course have to overcome technical obstacles. But probably even more organizational and even mental obstacles. And then there are all the issues raised by copyright and digital rights management. During the discussions of concepts such as Creative Commons and Public Domain, I got a sense of déjà vu. Suddenly it occurred to me: the museum as institution is inherently Public Domain.

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