From moving forward in parallel without ever meeting to working together: this is constructive change of attitude on the part of two worlds, that of Wikipedia and that of museums, that for some time now have been exploring very fruitful lines of cooperation.
Source: Albert Sierra
Since mid-May we have Àlex Hinojo as Wikipedian-in-residence at the Museu Picasso. Àlex, who has an impressive track record as author and editor of thousands of articles, was recently appointed Wikipedia-GLAM Ambassador, and is working with the Museum’s web team, plus Conservation, plus the Library, and with support from the museum’s director, on a number of key tasks, which include:
- Monitoring the terms ‘Picasso’ and especially ‘Picasso Museum’ in different languages on Wikipedia and examining the statistics of user queries;
- Creating the content for a selected work from the collection, Las Meninas, garnering documentation from the Museu Picasso Library and reviewing this with one of the conservators, preparing it for evaluation as a possible ‘quality article’;
- Developing the basic content on the 39 outstanding works in the Collection. To this end, the Museum has given Wikipedia free use of the relevant texts on the website;
- Coordinating the Museum Management Wikiproject, within the framework of the Postgraduate Course in Museum Management jointly organized by the Museu Picasso and IDEC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Each student has written and posted on Wikipedia a museum-related article, after taking part in a preparatory workshop.
There are also other projects coming up, which we will work on together, such as a Wikipedia marathon in the Library, a competition and an educational project.
Museums and Wikipedia meeting. Museums and the Web, Denver
The history of this collaborative venture dates from the Museums and Wikipedia meeting, which was held in Denver as part of the Museums and the Web 2010 conference, to which the Museu Picasso was invited. Taking part in this international meeting with editors from the Wikimedia Foundation were delegates from more than 40 museums worldwide. It was the first ever get-together between these two great realms of knowledge and, as we explained on the blog, it was a real rapprochement.
Immediately after that article was published on the blog, while I was still in Denver, the Museum messaged me that a local Wikipedian had got in touch and wanted to talk about the possibility of exploring collaboration ways. And that was how we got to know Àlex and learned about all the work (a load of work!) being done by Catalan Wikipedians. The next step was to hold an informal meeting with several Barcelona museums and Amical Viquipedia, headed by Joan Gomà, at which we benefitted from the insights of the well-known Liam Wyatt, the first Wikipedian-in-residence at the British Museum.
The third instalment of this story was the 1st meeting of Catalan Museums and Wikipedia, kicking off a series of collaborations with Wikipedia from all over Catalonia. It was quite clear that the need and the interest were already there and only needed the pot to get the whole thing cooking. We at the Picasso feel proud to have been the connectors that got this current flowing, though we are well aware that it would have got going somehow sooner or later.
To sum up: museums have the knowledge and the documentation, and Wikipedia has a global reach and a circulation far beyond anything any museum could achieve on its own. Pooling our knowledge and skills we can improve the service we offer users, which is, of course, our common goal.
Expertise of the museums + Reach of Wikipedia = Better service for the user
For the Museu Picasso, our involvement with Wikipedia is a natural step in the evolution of our participatory digital strategy, which is part of the mission that the Museum’s director, Pepe Serra, has synthesized in the concept of achieving social centrality; in other words, becoming an open centre of knowledge, at the service of society.
At present there are four other Wikipedians-in-residence in major museums and heritage centres:
- the Smithsonian Institution,
- the US National Archives and
- the Château de Versailles
The Museu Picasso is the first museum in Spain to host a Wikipedian — the first of many to come, for sure. The experience is tremendously valuable, and the results too. Are you tempted?
In a forthcoming article, Àlex himself will talk about his experience at the Museum and how he sees it all. All of us here we would like to thank him for his work and his enthusiasm.