A New app, a comprehensive education and outreach programme, and over 60,000 visitors to Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum

09.02.2018
Bode-Museum

More than 60,000 visitors have already been to see the special exhibition Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are now complementing the exhibition’s already comprehensive education and outreach program with a free smartphone app, which allows visitors to access the exhibition content digitally as well, and to learn more about the exhibits. The app can be installed on your own device via the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, or from mid-February, used at the museum on a loan device. 

Exhibition App

The app allows visitors to select tours through the museum either by length or according to their interests, or to just explore the exhibition on their own, bringing up content about particular exhibits as they please. The app provides brief introductions to the themes of the exhibition, and more in-depth material with multimedia background information about each exhibit pairing. As time goes on, additional information and commentaries from diverse perspectives will be added.

Another function of the app is the user positioning within the museum building, using so-called “beacons”. To lead the users to the exhibits spread across the entire building, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the app developers from D-LABS in cooperation with SAP SE are testing out some new technology. In addition to the traditional Bluetooth beacons, for the first time ever, ultrasound positioning technology developed by the company SonoBeacon GmbH is being employed. While the widespread Bluetooth technology has a wide range and is therefore well-suited large spaces, its signal penetrates the stone walls of the Bode-Museum almost without resistance. The ultrasound transmission of this new technology on the other hand can precisely pinpoint a user at shorter ranges. The combination of both technologies is intended to locate users right down to the room. Currently, the positioning function is only available for Android devices.   

Download the app: iOS or Android

“In many projects, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are currently trialling new methods of communicating information about our collections in order to provide our visitors with various ways of accessing the collections”, explains Michael Eissenhauer, Director-General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. “Thanks to the support of the Kuratorium Preussicher Kulturbesitz, in addition to a comprehensive education and outreach programme, we are now able to offer an app. This makes it possible for our audiences to also access our exhibitions digitally.”

Thorsten Strauss, Director of the Kuratorium Preussischer Kulturbesitz: “We are pleased that the Kuratorium is able to support the SPK and their institutions in the process of digitization. We’re excited to see how users respond to the app. With the long running time of this exhibition, we’ll have a good chance to evaluate the experiences, and to incorporate that data – which is an important aspect for the Kuratorium as well.”

The Wi-Fi Challenge

Running parallel to this, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are working on providing selected venues with Wi-Fi access, which brings with it all sorts of challenges, particularly in the historic buildings on the Museuminsel. As previously in the Kolonnadenhof, in collaboration with Freifunk Berlin, public-access Wi-Fi has now been installed in central areas of the Bode-Museum, with plans to expand further. 

Education and Outreach Programme

The entire education and outreach programme for the exhibition continues to enjoy significant interest among visitors. The next Tandem Tours (with two experts from different disciplines) will take place at 3 p.m. on 10 and 17 February, and then on the first, third and fifth Saturday of the month. The Curator’s Tours are another highlight, where two curators from the fields of “African and European Sculpture” guide visitor groups around the exhibition. The next tour takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, 15 February. There is a special offer for adults with and without hearing-impairments, who can explore the exhibition on 10 February 2018 at 3 p.m. together with a sign-language interpreter and education staff.   

Children from 6 to 12 years are invited every second and fourth Saturday of the month to the workshop Erzähl mal! (Tell Me!), where they can write down their ideas and stories in the form of alternative object labels. The next workshops are on 10 and 24 February 2018. Please register at: service@smb.museum

There are also exhibition discussions and activity-based workshops for school groups of all ages. In these discussions, students talk about ideals of beauty or justice, compare the formal languages of the two continents, and identify common features and contrasts in the functional and representative aspects of the artworks.

For 2018, three additional, accompanying panel discussions are planned, dealing with the past and present of the Berlin collections, with a particular focus on the ethnological collections. The first event in the series takes place in the Bode-Museum on 5 April 2018, titled Global Connections/Nineteenth-Century Museums: Rethinking Berlin’s Museum Landscape.

All activities are on-going and can be viewed online at: www.afrikaimbodemuseum.de.

Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum

The special exhibition by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum and the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst will be on show until 2019, when the Humboldt Forum opens. For the first time, the sculptural traditions of Africa and Europe enter into a direct dialogue: with over 70 major works of African sculpture from the Ethnologisches Museum on display at the Bode-Museum. Art from Western and Central Africa meets masterpieces from the Byzantine Empire, Italy and Central Europe – never before have the sculptural traditions of the two continents been compared in such an in-depth fashion.

The exhibition, its education and outreach programme, and the app are generously supported by the Kuratorium Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

On the Way to Humboldt Forum

The collections of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are going to remain viewable for visitors during the move to the Humboldt Forum. “On the Way to Humboldt Forum” is the name of a series of dialogic special exhibitions, displays, and events that will take place until 2019 at the Kulturforum and the Museumsinsel, involving the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin's two non-European collections.