1 / How to turn the museum into a public space for engagement

Workshop leader
Marianne Grymer Bargeman, Head of Learning and Interpretation at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

If you want to know how you can engage your audiences in fun and enlightening activities that will enhance their learning, this is the workshop for you.


Why work with public engagement in your institution?

The world is changing, audiences are changing, and so cultural heritage institutions must change too. We cannot save the world, but nevertheless we can make more of a difference than we might think by creating spaces and scope for reflection and new thoughts.

Today, we are part of a world where everyone can participate actively in culture and politics, both on a local and global scale, enabled by digital technologies. This development prompts us to design frameworks to tap into and support this public engagement. We need a wider range and scope, new perspectives, new ways of entering into conversations, more professional and social get-togethers and more open eyes and minds. When we ourselves take an open-minded, explorative approach we increase the chances of seeing curious, open-minded behaviour among our visitors.

ARoS Public is a case in point. It’s an innovative forum for learning and interpretation at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. It is built on a clear strategy—that the museum exists first and foremost to incite unique, memorable, provocative conversations among visitors. Instead of seeing artworks simply as static objects to be gazed at, ARoS Public uses interactive technologies to put works in the collection into the hands of people, prompting new forms of expression and creation from visitors. ARoS Public expands the museum space and blurs the boundaries between art, artistic practices and audiences.

What can you expect of the workshop?

In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to discuss the paradoxical nature of such a project, and how it helps us gain greater insight into our users and how they experience art. Turning a cultural heritage institution into a space for public engagement demands that you dare let go of control and embrace the unplanned, the uncertain, and the unexpected of including diverse audiences in live dialogue. Also, it demands that you design spaces that enable and encourage people to make the shift from being passive spectators to active participants. Workshop lead Marianne Bargeman will take you through the theoretical and practical concerns of building strategies for public engagement.  

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