Digital Curation

I know it’s been ages since I posted anything, but I have recently become inspired to start a series of blog posts about museums. I know I have written about museums in the past, such as the Buchheim and, of course, the BMW Museum where I work. But I thought it would be good for me to keep a focus among my blogs….so museums it is!

A hot topic at the moment is museums, particularly in new museums and the curation of new exhibits, is the idea of the Virtual Museum. My first contact with this idea came while I was at my new job; the online tool department transformed the collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) into a Second Life platform. That means those who are registered on Second Life with their own digital self, or sometimes called an avatar, can virtually walk through the museum and view digitized works of art!

At first the idea struck me as disappointing; why would someone look at a mini-copy of a work of art on his or her computer screen instead of going to see the actual work? But then again this goes back to the issue of movie theaters having problems with viewers streaming movies online…

The advantage to digitizing museums has one crystal clear advantage; education and research. Although many museums still have The other interesting idea behind the Second Life museum is that it differentiates itself from online museum archives, which have already been around for a few year, in spatial aspects, presentation, and pedagogical strategies. Welcome the birth of digital curation…

I read an article in the New York Times (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 8.Feb.2010) entitled “Online, It’s the Mouse That Runs the Museum.” The article explores the advantages to digital museum presentation and curation. Because of the general knowledge of social media platforms (a.k.a facebook and Twitter), web users are becoming more accustomed to having influence on subject material. At the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which will open in Warsaw in 2012, a virtual platform allows web users to support the collection by sending their own photographs, videos, etc. Even more exciting is the French project for the Museum of Afghan Civilization, which only exists in digital form. Its goal is to allow people in Afghanistan to share photographs that are taken there in areas where computers are scare. A new way of communicating culture! The founder of this museum stated, “Curators are starting to realize that they can be challenged by the audience.”

What a wonderful idea! I’ll have to admit, I’ll be excited if at some point I cross paths with a digital curating project!


Me as a pict…

For Halloween in 2007 I dress up as a scottish pict! I’ve been meaning to post these pictures ever since I started this blog, just because they are so cool! The funny thing was, I used blue stamp ink for the war paint (I wonder what they used back then…) but it took many washings for it to come off! I was blue for a while!
pict frontpict back

A new BMW Ad

I know I should loose my blogging license because I haven’t updated in SOOOO long! School and caught up to me, so it may be a while before I become totally active again. But I did want to post this ad I saw on TV for BMW…it’s pretty cool because all the cars featured are my buddies from the museum!

Paris, Part 1

It’s been over a month since I was in Paris! I need to get back into better habits about my blog! In any case, I am finally going to get these posts up…so here it goes!

My trip to Paris with “Historische Kunst- und Bilddiskurse” was from March 22 to the 27.  The first day we arrived in Paris, via TGV (an express train) was a Sunday, and already fairly late in the day.  We were welcomed by two of our professors and received an introduction to the week at one of their apartments, which included a small introduction to French cheese! I think I liked the cheese a little too much!

Afterward, once we had checked into out hotel and the sun had set, we set out on a introduction to the city of Paris and wondered the dark and mystic streets. Here’s a picture of our exploratory posse:


You can already see in the background of this picture what our next destination was. Actually, it was food…we were looking for a specially tasty falafel stand, but it just happened to be in the direction of the Pompidou!


Here you see the Pompidou lit up by night. It’s the famous art museum with the piping on the outside. There was an exhibit on Alexander Calder there that I would have very much liked to see, but the purpose of our excursion to Paris was to learn more about Symbolism, an art movement that took place at the end of the 19th Century. In the following blog posts I will get more into the details of the movement, the artists involved, and the museums we visited in their reference.

After finding food, we headed in the direction of the Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame is located. The night lighting and the bridges on the way were gorgeous:


We took a short stop outside the Notre Dame, and then a few from the company came up to me to tell me about the wonderful English bookstore on the south bank.  So many knew of it and like it, that we decided to detour over there. So we reached the Rue de la Bucherie:


The Street of the Bookshops! There was a lovely antique bookshop there as well as the English bookshop, where I contemplated purchasing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray…it seemed befitting; the only novel written by one of  my favorite playwrights as well as a literary work of Symbolism…but in the end I shied away from either antiques or relevant literature, considering the additional weight on my back while traveling. However, as we were leaving the Rue de la Bucherie, I did find something quite close to my heart:


I just love this! It’s like a deja vu of culture…a moment of complete and total juxaposition completely out of left field…in a street in FRANCE…a sign in ENGLISH…selling cheap GERMAN books…wonderful!  I loved the subtlety of it was well, a very inconspicuous and cheap cardboard box!

We then slowly began our saunter back to the hotel…crossing back over the river Seine and catching our first glimpse at the Eiffel Tower. One of us wanted to wander off in that direction, but we decided to save that for a later night. From a bridge, I took two pictures:


Tried from the train ride and walking through the streets of Paris (no knowing what was in store for the next few days) we winding through the maze back to our hotel.  On the way we went through an underground shopping mall, the Forum des Halles (picture below) and then crashed into bed.


My room, which I shared with two other girls, was on the fifth floor of our quaint little youth-hostel like hotel.  The following morning we were surprised by tasty instant coffee in milk and a large baguette with butter and jam…the same breakfast we had the following four mornings, but which never got old! It became the morning fuel for what I’m starting to call “Art History Bootcamp”…but more on that in the following posts!

So, I will be writing a longer post about my trip to Paris for the seminar on Symbolism soon…this is the teaser trailer!

The last time I was in Paris was in the summer of 2000…believe it or not, 9 years ago!  When I was there, I had a picture taken of me in from of Picasso’s former studio near Montmartre.  9 years later I found myself in the same street and was surprisingly able to recognize the door after all that time! So here’s a Parisian time-warp for you:


About a month ago I went on an excursion with “Historische Kunst- und Bilddiskurse” (my Master’s program) to academically celebrate the end of the semester.  First we had a project seminar in Höchstädt (actually in the palace there!) and then we continued on a overview adventure of Baroque churches in Bavaria, particularly those from Dominikus Zimmerman and his brother Johann Baptist Zimmerman. I don’t think I’ll go into detail about each church (could be a little over the top and most definitely repetitive), so I’ll list them all now, in case you care to google them: Kloster Maria Medingen, the Frauenkirche in Günzberg, Kartause Buxheim, Residenz and Kirche Kempten, Steingaden, Steinhausen (yep, that’s somewhere else!), the Wieskirche (you may have heard of that one…it’s protected by UNESCO), the beautiful library and church in Bad Schussenried, Ottobeuren (a name I’ll never forget), and the Johanneskirche in Landsberg an der Lech.

The thing I liked most about this excursion was the spectrum in which we explored, which allowed me to finally understand the difference between Baroque and Rococo architecture. Apparently the transition mainly took place in none of than the (then) country of Bavaria. I’ll get to that more specifically in just a bit…

Here’s the palace in Höchstädt where we spent about 10 hours a day in a workshop:

hochstadt I have to say, I can’t really complain about the location! We also had a few breaks during the workshop in which we were given tours of the palace, which is partially restored and still undergoing the remaining restorations. In this wing we saw the restored frescoes:

I actually quite liked this restoration, as it did not have the goal of bringing the works back to their original quality by adding what was missing, but instead restored what was there and nothing more. It leaves the frescoes with a very rustic and authentic look. I was also quite amused that this wing of the palace actually housed a chapel for weddings! I was quite appealed myself, until it was pointed out that the frescoes in the chapel portray the Fall from Eden! Yikes! Get married and you’re thrown from Paradise! Actually, come to think of it, maybe the irony is, in fact, a good omen. Sort of a way to ward off those demons from the start.

Since we’re on the subject of the Fall, here’s a picture of some Baroque decorative sculpture from the church in Ottobeuren:


Now that’s some pretty cool decorative sculpture of an angel turning away from a dragon-like serpent trying to give it the apple, the forbidden fruit!  This was one of the cooler things in Ottobeuren that had to do with “cool” meaning interesting, but all in all, Ottobeuren was “cool” in the cold way! As we tried to leave the village in our two Mercedes buses, a blizzard came, and the bus I was in, along with 7 of my fellow students, got stuck in the snow! The bus literally slid off the road! We had to sit in a Thai food restaurant until the blizzard passed and then we took a taxi back to Kempten, where we were staying.  It turned out the bus we had had “all-weather” tires instead of snow tires…and if anyone ever tell you that there isn’t a difference between the two, tell them to talk to us! In an case, the situation seems funnier in hindsight and it was quite a bonding experience for us students!

In our homebase during the excursion, Kempten, we saw the Residenz and Baroque church.  Upon entering the Residenz, we had to wear felt shoes because of the inlay wood floors (also from the period!)…here’s a picture:


The Residenz was one of the prime examples we saw of the distinction between Bandelwerk, signifying Baroque design, and Rocaille, characteristic of Rococo decoration. To put a name to the face, or a guess an image to the Stuck, or plaster with which these ornaments were made:


To the left you see the Bandelwerk, which means ribbon work…very elegant and perhaps more my personal taste.  (I would suggest clicking on the thumbnails to see the larger photos…these things are very detailed!) On the right is the Rocaille, actually a French word describing a type of shell, which is why it has the shell-like and sea-creature form.

The Residenz in Kempten was a restored example of these architectual ornamentations. In this picture you can see a small section that the restoration workers did not restore, as a point of reference/comparison:

restaurierungs-vergleichRestoring to the original colors really shows the artwork’s brilliance! It seems so dull otherwise!

In addition to learning about the architectural/ornamental styles and the relevance of restoration, I also gained some knowledge of Catholic iconography.  (I know, I should know these things…I just never had much connection with religions) For example, each Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) apparently have animal symbols: an angel, eagle, ox, and lion (in the same order).  I also learned the holy monograms, like the IHS for Jesus and this cool one for the mother Mary:


It creates the name “Maria.”

So, I’ve saved the best for last…in Bad Schussenried we visited an old convent, itself quite pretty, but hidden in one of its wings was the most beautiful library I have ever seen!  As an exception to the churches, monasteries, and convents that we had seen elsewhere, this library did not have religious iconography, but iconography from the 18th/19th century of the science and humanities!  Each corner of the library was dedicated to a different discipline: art, sculpture, architecture, and music!  It even had an early for of the scientific classification system portrayed as branches in a tree in the fresco on the ceiling! Here are the pictures:


I love this picture! All of the students are staring up at the fresco…in a way looking to the sky! as Dr. Frangenberg describes the iconography. (He’s the one standing in the back…our Baroque and Rococo expert)

And, of course, a picture of me proudly standing in the spectacle:

me-in-baroque-libraryYay! I’m so happy that I finally have this post done! It took me like, a month! My apologies once more for the delay…coming soon: Unsinniger Donnerstag in Mittenwald and Paris!


I spent all day yesterday studying and it was only because I ran out of toilet paper that I realized I had to get out of the house and go shopping!  But I’m so very glad that happened, because as soon as I stepped outside I was rewarded by gentle and large snow flakes falling from the sky!  This morning I woke up to 8cm of snow on the ground, which has really gotten me into the holiday mood!  Unfortunately I don’t have a digital camera to take pictures of the beautiful winter wonderland, but I did find a few on the net.


Here’s the center of Munich, Marienplatz, with a touch of snow! The little white roofs in the square are booth for the Christkindlmarkt, a.k.a. Weihnachtsmarkt, a Christmas market with arts and crafts and many yummy things to eat!  Here’s another picture from the other side of the square:


This one is at night, when all the lights are on!  A friend of mine and I were comparing this to Rockafeller Center in New York (although I’ve never been there, she has…) and we both liked the subtleness and modesty of the lights in Munich.  Munich, being much smaller than New York, has it’s ice rink at another location…Karlsplatz, just down the street called the Fußgängerzone.

Also at the Christmas markets, one can enjoy a warm cup of Glühwein, a mulled wein that is vital to the German Christmas identity.  Here’s another picture:


I’ve already had about 5 cups this winter so far…and tonight we’re having a big late Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner out our place, so more will be for the drinking!

And last, but not least, because it’s so very cute, I have a small holiday greeting for all of you!