The Museum of Cultures (MUDEC) was inaugurated in March 2015; its collections include around 8,000 objects coming from Asia, Africa, America and Oceania.
The pilot project “Riprendi-ti al MUDEC” (a word pun difficult to translate into English, but roughly meaning “Film the MUDEC / Film yourself at the MUDEC”) was developed in the framework of “YEAD – Young European (Cultural) Audience Development”, a four-year project supported by the “Creative Europe” programme of the European Union (2015-2019).
More in particular, the museum was involved in YEAD – Year 1 (2015-2016), devoted to the theme “Universal Access to Culture”, whose overarching goals were:
• to reach underrepresented audiences and improve access to cultural institutions and creative works in the EU and beyond by fostering creative partnerships between cultural and creative players (museum professionals and young filmmakers)
• to provide European museum professionals and filmmakers with skills, competences and know-how needed to engage and develop young audiences through innovative approaches in the field of heritage education in an intercultural perspective.
• Project leader: MUDEC – Museum of Cultures, Milan (working team: two assistant curators, one film-maker and two interns)
• YEAD project partner: Fondazione Ismu – Initiatives and studies on multiethnicity, Milan (YEAD coordinator for Italy)
• Local project partner: “Oriani Mazzini” Institute, a vocational school for commercial, health and social services based in Milan.
The other museum partners involved in YEAD – Year 1 were:
• in Italy: MUST – Museum of Vimercate’s Territory and “Adriano Bernareggi” Museum (Bergamo)
• in France: Louvre (Paris), Musée national des arts asiatiques “Guimet” (Paris), Musée d’Angoulême (Angoulême), Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Paris).
As part of YEAD, “Riprendi-ti al MUDEC” was co-funded by the “Creative Europe” programme and Fondazione Ismu.
For young participants:
• to understand and recognise the specificity and value of museum objects
• to familiarise with museum spaces, functions and staff
• to explore MUDEC’s collection from unusual perspectives, and appreciate its potential “resonance” with their personal life experiences
• to develop an ability to understand different points of view
• to develop basic skills in film-making as a tool to express their personal view on cultural heritage
• to learn to work in a group in a participatory way
• to become the Museum’s spokespeople to reach their peers.
For the museum:
• to explore and recognise the museum’s potential as a place of encounter, exchange and relationship with/between young people with diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences
• to enhance the expertise of museum staff in participatory planning issues (workforce development)
• to design and implement a project structure which is replicable with the museum’s own budget, as well as transferable to other contexts (legacy, continuity, transferability)
• to raise the awareness of the museum’s management and staff as a whole; to embed collaborative projects with young people into the museum’s ordinary practices (institutional development)
• to reinforce strategic partnerships with other local actors
• to actively involve young people in a process of peer-to-peer communication aimed at conveying a different image of the museum.
22 youths aged 14-21, both Italian and with a migrant background.
Duration of the project
November 2015 – November 2016.
1. MUDEC took part in the intensive training workshop (Milan and Turin, November 2015, see programme) addressed to the Italian and French groups of museum professionals and young film-makers involved in YEAD. The aim was to provide workshop participants with new skills, competences and know-how to reach cross-cultural audiences, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups and individuals (mostly youths with a migrant background), as well as to share and discuss guidelines which would help develop new pilot projects in the French and Italian museums involved.
2. Getting started: initial steps in designing the pilot project included mapping the neighbourhood, establishing contacts with project partner, defining roles and responsibilities, checking resources and “constraints”, defining the overall goals and structure of the pilot project (further refined and finalised with young participants).
3. Workshop meetings (April-June 2016) – engaging young participants in a dialogue with museum staff, spaces, collections and objects in stores.
All meetings were designed and run to promote the active involvement of young participants: exploration of museum spaces (exhibition spaces, museum stores, restoration lab), workshop activities on specific artefacts (e.g. “Tell us a story:” 7 object descriptions with an opening line aimed at triggering new stories; “Discovering museum objects”: brainstorming on 4 objects in the museum’s stores), video interviews with museum staff members (“May I introduce you to…?”: getting to know the museum staff, from the director and curators to the registrars, museum educators and museum guards), introducing film language, audiovisual devices, basic film-making techniques (shooting, acting, directing) and carrying out brief exercises with smartphones.
Starting from the third meeting, participants were divided in three diverse groups (in terms of age, cultural background, filmmaking skills), who worked at the creation of three videos, from writing the storyboard to post-production, on the theme “Communicate the museum to your peers”: Secret of art”, “Unexpected tour”, “A very crazy crew at the MUDEC”.
4. Formative and summative evaluation (for the evaluation strategies and tools as a whole, see YEAD – Year 1 project description):
• before starting the pilot project, MUDEC designed a short questionnaire to gather information on young participants’ expectations, needs, previous cultural experiences and perception of museums
• together with MUST and the “Adriano Bernareggi” Museum, MUDEC took part in two collective meetings organised by Fondazione ISMU (February and May 2016) to carry out formative evaluation of the work in progress, identify critical hurdles and suggest remedial action if needed; moreover, Fondazione Ismu constantly acted as a “facilitator/mentor” of MAB’s working team through individual meetings, Skype conversations and e-mail exchanges
• a formative evaluation session was also organised in Paris (June 206), so that the Italian and French groups could share, discuss and improve their work in progress
• as for summative evaluation, Fondazione Ismu designed two questionnaires, one aimed at museum operators and film-makers, the other at the young participants of pilot projects.
• presentation of the pilot project and three videos to teachers, relatives and fellow students at the MUDEC (June 2016)
• the process, outcomes and outputs of YEAD – Year 1 were presented at public seminar organised by Fondazione Ismu in Milan (MUDEC, 11 November 2016, see programme), attended by professionals (museum operators, filmmakers, researchers, educators…), students (museum studies, filmmaking, media design…) and under-represented audiences from which project participants came from.
Lessons to be learned
• an opportunity for the project team to develop new professional skills (e.g. participatory approach to engaging young audiences, using film-making in educational projects)
• the use of the audiovisual language and the “immersive” experience in the museum, in close touch with museum staff, to secure high level of involvement on the part of young participants
• the high potential of the strategies employed throughout the project to promote team building in future initiatives
• the project revealed unexpected points of view in “conveying” the experience at the museum
• the production of videos among the project’s objectives reinforced young participants’ motivation.
Comments from young participants:
• desire to repeat the experience over a longer time-span
• improvement in team working
• feeling of being “narrators” rather than “listeners”.
• without an appropriate supervision, young participants ran the risk of perceiving the museum as a “location/set”, rather than the “heart” of their short videos
• little time available for the project as a whole to unfold, as well as to edit videos
• bad timing (spring) for the involvement of the school partner
• difficulties in using shared equipment with a large group (22 students).
Comments from young participants:
• some felt felt they did not reflect enough on heritage and its value(s)
• others felt the need to devote more time to exploring heritage in order to create videos more focused on its interpretation.
MUDEC – Museo delle Culture
via Tortona, 56 – 20144 Milano
– Anna Antonini and Sara Chiesa, project coordinators