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Materialising the Immaterial?

Evaluation of the use of digital media for presenting intangible cultural heritage.

This sub-project within the umbrella project museum4punkt0 explores the possibilities and limits of digital media when it comes to presenting and conveying knowledge about intangible cultural heritage. It explores the potential of newer digital formats to not only preserve and present intangible cultural heritage in museum contexts, but also to further develop and transform it in creative ways.

Intangible cultural heritage is shaped by people, passed from generation to generation as a living tradition. When intangible cultural heritage is “exhibited” in a museum, it always undergoes a media transformation as part of its musealization. In the form of video and audio recordings, this has been part of exhibition practice for some decades now. Digitalisation and networking are expanding the technical possibilities for “capturing” intangible cultural heritage in the moment and presenting it in immersive formats. At the same time, the platforms and dialogue functions of the latest generation of media developments offer a multitude of new possibilities to contact and converse with countless interested parties, regardless of one’s physical location.

The sub-project therefore investigates the extent to which, in addition to their technically innovative role in terms of preservation, presentation and pedagogy, these recent digital formats can also make an active contribution to the ongoing development and creative transformation of intangible forms of cultural heritage.

The project aims to provide an initial survey of these promising digital formats in the still nascent research field of intangible cultural heritage and its presentation in museums. A complementary duo of researchers, consisting of a cultural anthropologist and a media psychologist, will collect and process data and publish it as a thematic extension of the museum4punkt0 platform, as well as drawing up an initial conceptual framework. In doing so, both the object of study (intangible cultural heritage) and its “translation” into the digital realm, as well as the affective psychology of the digital presentation and dialogue formats used will be taken into account. These findings will be used to inform best-practice recommendations for the handling and use of digital technologies for the preservation, presentation and evolution of intangible cultural heritage.

Research team: Dr Friederike Berlekamp, Julie Piesbergen, Kathrin Grotz, Dr Patricia Rahemipour
Cooperation partners: Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (partnership coordination), Deutsches Auswandererhaus Bremen, Deutsches Museum München, Museen der Schwäbisch-Alemannischen Fastnacht, Stiftung Humboldtforum im Berliner Schloss, Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Varusschlacht im Osnabrücker Land Museum und Park Kalkriese, Historisches Museum Saar, Stiftung deutsches Meeresmuseum, Badisches Landesmuseum, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek
Funded by: Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Neustart Kultur programme
Duration: January 2021 to June 2022

Research at the Institut für Museumsforschung