Humboldt’s Cosmos in a Digital Space
Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss
Investigating objects, encouraging visitor identification – gaming approaches and interactive digital tools enable visitors to act as curators.
South Sea boat, feather coat, or phonograph – over 20,000 exhibits can be viewed and explored in the Humboldt Forum starting at the end of 2020. It would be difficult to make the many stories that these objects have to tell comprehensible for a range of age and learning groups using analog means only.
Opening New Perspectives, Encouraging Playful Approaches
How can the different object biographies be told comprehensively and vividly? How can visitors interact with the object in a playful and engaging way and contribute their own knowledge to the collections? And given the wealth of exhibits, how might it be possible to support visitors in examining them in a more profound way, providing orientation in the process? The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, a foundation, is tackling these issues as part of museum4punkt0.
kosmosdigital Humboldt Forum – Multiple Perspectives as a Guiding Principle
Exhibitions often present only a single story that cannot represent the complexity of human thought and actions in a comprehensive way. However, the very diversity of the exhibits in Humboldt Forum and the variety of perspectives from which objects can be viewed are the collections’ actual wealth.
In the kosmosdigital Humboldt Forum module, we are developing a prototypical concept for presenting objects via video from multiple perspectives. We are planning to hold digital storytelling workshops with curators, scientists, representatives of the exhibits’ regions of origin, and visitors. The goal is to record and share their insights and attitudes regarding the objects in Humboldt Forum.
We are also creating a digital storytelling toolbox to allow the project to extend beyond the limits of the physical museum. Equipped with guidelines and tips, it will help the different target groups become familiar with digital storytelling formats and enable them to create their own videos using simple means. In this way, we intend to add voices and stories from around the globe to the presentations at Humboldt Forum and show them to a wide audience via the video format.
Identification, Participation, and a Playful Approach to Collection Diversity
We would like to encourage museum visitors to act as interpreters of the exhibits they are viewing and not just observers. In partnership with gamelab.berlin, part of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s Image Knowledge Gestaltung cluster of excellence, we are developing Mein Objekt (My Object), a prototypical mobile app to this end. As a starting point on the journey through Humboldt Forum, it proposes an object to each visitor that is matched to his/her interests, shows its connection to other parts of the collection, and enables the visitor to contribute personal impressions and object descriptions. In interaction with others, visitors can re-interpret the selected exhibit and share it with friends via their social media networks. People can be engaging with the collections weeks before their actual visit, which no longer has to end when they leave the physical location.
For Mein Objekt, we are working with algorithms to calculate preferences, recommendation systems, and the methods of serious gaming. In a research-related setting, we are also dealing with issues of data privacy protection and the mechanisms of social media networks. We are studying how these approaches could be used for the personalized transfer of knowledge in museums.
- Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (ed.). 2017. “Mein Objekt.“ In Das Humboldt-Labor: Wissenschaften in Bewegung – Überlegungen und Ansätze, 29. Berlin: Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. (publication in German)
- Gamelab.berlin at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin