» Turning History Online: Online Exhibition as a Challenge, Limit and New Form

An international symposium presenting the creative combination of historical research and digital technologies

How to show history in a new way and share historical experience? Meet digital projects based on multimedia technologies

The surprising combination of history, virtual space and digital technologies will be the focus of the international symposium Turning History Online: Online Exhibition as a Challenge, Limit and New Form held on Friday, October 14 at Ponrepo Cinema in Prague. The conference speakers include leading Czech and international experts on the presentation of historical research in multimedia form. The symposium is open to the public and is free of charge. The main communication language is English.

Download the full programme in English.

Museums enter the online world

We live in a time when we are no longer surprised that we do not have to go to the store, bank or public office to get what we need. The coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked the digitalization of services and things we would have sought in brick-and-mortar institutions until recently are now online. This also applies to museum collections which found their way to visitors even when the doors of cultural institutions were mercilessly closed to the public. The online environment allows much more than just virtual tours that simulate a physical visit to a museum. The virtual space is not limited by four walls, tour direction or opening hours, and institutions suddenly have a seemingly limitless field of possibilities to present their collections and research, with the potential to attract virtual visitors from all over the world.

In response to this development, the field of digital museology represents an entirely new approach to how we speak about history and cultural heritage. The memory of great stories as well as the history of everyday life and ordinary people is the focus of many successful projects that have already been created specifically for the digital environment and are becoming a form in their own right, which can function on its own without being linked to an actual exhibition at a brick-and-mortar institution.

History right on your screens

The “Turning History Online” symposium, held in the afternoon of October 14 at Ponrepo Cinema, will present outstanding digital museology projects from North America and Europe. Besides comparing various approaches to historical work using multimedia, it will also offer purely practical insight into the production of virtual exhibitions, including the challenges of communication between historians and digital specialists.

The keynote speaker will be Stella Sylaiou from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The Greek scholar has been working with cultural institutions for a long time and has been involved in their expansion into the virtual world since 2003. Today, she is one of the leading experts in experimental museology and the presentation of cultural heritage in the digital environment. The first panel called “Concept, Translation, Digital Audience” will address the practical aspects of digital exhibition. It will feature Marc Wurich from the German National Library who will share his experience of working on “Arts in Exile”, a virtual exhibition focusing on exiled German artists who had to leave their country between 1933 and 1945. Leah Resnick, director of Digital Museums Canada, is a representative of modern Canadian museum management. The third panelist is UK curator David Wright (Durham University) who will explain the importance of collaboration between scholars and digital designers through the example of successful digital projects.

The second panel called “Cultural History Online” will focus on specific historical projects and their journey from dusty archives to the virtual world. Magdalena M. Wrobel will present the “Shared History Project” tracing the trajectories of the departure of German-speaking Jews from Central Europe to the United States. Rossella Catanese will speak about “Frames of Reconstruction”, a European multimedia project exploring the post-war reconstruction of Europe, which struggled both with the actual reconstruction of places destroyed by the war and the division of the continent by the Iron Curtain. The third speaker will be Krzysztof Pijarski from the Lodz Film School and its Visual Narratives Laboratory. There, interactive technologies meet film narration which already combines artistic and documentary principles.

The program will further feature an open roundtable discussion involving Linda Daniela (University of Latvia, Riga) whose work focuses on linking computer technology and education. The next debater will be Johan Oomen (The Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision) who focuses on making historical heritage accessible and popular through multimedia content. The Czech representative in the debate will be Lukáš Pilka from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, who works as a digital designer and wrote a dissertation thesis on the potential of using computer neural networks to classify and interpret artworks. The debate will be moderated by Matěj Strnad, Head of the Curatorial Department at the National Film Archive and member of the Programming Commission at the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF).

The symposium is a collaboration between the Fresh Eye platform, the HERA Victor-E research project and the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

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Complete Program

Friday, October 14, 2022

Ponrepo Cinema

13.00 – 13.10 Welcome

Andrea Průchová Hrůzová (Fresh Eye, Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University)

Lucie Česálková (Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, Faculty of Arts at Charles University, Iluminace)

13.10 – 14.40 Concept, Translation, Digital Audience

Marc Wurich / German National Library

Leah Resnick / Digital Museums Canada

David Wright / Durham University

14.40 – 15.00 Recess

15.00 – 16:30 Cultural History Online

Magdalena M. Wrobel / Shared History Project

Rossella Catanese / Frames of Reconstruction

Krzysztof Pijarski / Visual Narratives Laboratory

16:30 – 16.50 Recess

16.50 – 18.00Keynote Lecture

Stella Sylaiou / Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

18.00 – 19.15 Roundtable

Linda Daniela / University of Latvia, Riga

Johan Oomen / The Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision

Lukáš Pilka / Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague

Moderator: Matěj Strnad / National Film Archive

19.15 Conclusion

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