Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Oct. 24, 2021, 7:53 a.m. Humanist 35.317 - pubs: digital experimental museology; controversial ideas

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 317.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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    [1]    From: Salciute Civiliene, Gabriele <>
           Subject: New CfP for the Special Issue "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digital Experiment in Museology and Museum Design" (208)

    [2]    From: Ken Friedman <>
           Subject: Journal of Controversial Ideas (38)

        Date: 2021-10-23 11:38:36+00:00
        From: Salciute Civiliene, Gabriele <>
        Subject: New CfP for the Special Issue "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digital Experiment in Museology and Museum Design"

​Dear Humanists,

The editors of the special issue "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digital
Experiment in Museology and Museum Design" of Herança-History, Heritage and
Culture Journal, indexed to Scopus, invites proposals for work that engages with
interdisciplinary and critical perspectives and explorations of the emerging
notions, theories, and practices of designing and implementing experiment in and
for museums. It encourages proposals that focus on the role, worth, and extent
of experiment as a product and process in the ongoing transformation of museums
as virtual only, hybrid, distributed, networked, or post-digital spaces of
social and cultural engagement understood in the broadest sense.  We welcome in
particular the proposals that, rather than tell success stories, problematize
the areas of conceptualizing, designing, and conducting experiments in the
digital transformation of museums. We encourage proposals that address the
following themes:

Experiment with the metaphors of museum. The metaphors of museum, ranging from
cultural to organic images such as a mirror and a lung (Bataille 1930/1986), a
cemetery (Hainard & Kaehr 1986, p. 33, as cited in Beek 1990, p. 27), a meeting-
place (Fors 2012), a website (Staniszewski 2000) and the like, reflect how we
frame museums over time. The early 18th and 19th-century model of the modern
museum is often likened to a container where “visitors became an explicit
curatorial problem because they could cause damage” (Harris 2015). Ever since,
contemporary museums have grown to be “more experimental, less architecturally
determined, and offering a more politicized engagement with our historical
moment” (Bishop 2013, p. 6).

Experiment with and for curatorial practices. Museology has problematized the
regimented design of the exhibition space with a view on whose role it is to
define the content of museums (Bataille 1930/1986; Harris 2015). The emphasis on
public engagement has prompted museums to create educational environments where
viewers would learn not only by observing museum objects in the exhibition space
but also by interacting and engaging with museum collections through research,
volunteering jobs, internship, artist-led workshops, citizen curation, and the

More recently, the metaphor of laboratory has become prominent in museology and
museum design. Central to laboratory work is experimentation, which, though not
new to the operation of museums, is traditionally hidden from the public eyes.
To make scientific research more visible as a process, both interdisciplinary
and collaborative, museums have brought laboratories, along with open workspaces
and storage rooms, into the exhibition space (Rössig and Jahn 2019). The
exhibition space serves to disseminate the established knowledge, but the design
and act of exhibition may also be used as a site of ‘knowledge-in-the making’
(Bjerregaard 2020). The recent attempts to frame and redefine museums as public
laboratories has opened up new possibilities for museums to redress the balance
in the conventional object/subject relationship.

Experiment in and with narratives and critiques of museum collections. Museums
have evolved from displaying history, predominantly from a colonial and
nationalist perspective in the past, to interrogating and rewriting it. Curating
in the public domain and with the help of public participants plays a
significant role in how history is produced by museums. Paradoxically, while
bringing history closer to their viewers, museums create their own social and
cultural distances. In search for the new models and means of producing
inclusive, collaborative, and socially engaged spaces, museology has always
drawn inspiration from other cultural institutions. Back in 1889, Smithsonian
Institute curator George B. Goode anticipated that museums will “stand side by
side with the library and the laboratory” (cited in Kenderdine 2021, p. 15).

These broad themes will structure our special issue that problematizes how
experimental thought and practices inspire, disturb, frame, and facilitate the
conception and evolution of museums as diverse spaces of inquiry and memory.
This reflects our interest in developing more nuanced and critical language for
describing museums as sites of knowledge and power through the lens of
experiment. In particular, we will promote discussions focused on experimental

The emerging concept of experimental museology is linked to the so-called fourth
wave focused on the design and practices of exhibition (Haldrup et al., 2021).
In light of this shift towards the laboratory model, the question arises as to
what constitutes a museological experiment. As a major workforce in sciences,
experiment has a long-standing history. Scientific experiment tests and produces
theories. It has to be repeated and replicated before a hypothesis can be turned
into a theory and provide the basis for empirical knowledge. Scientific
experiment thus thrives on the scrupulous interrogation of indeterminacies. Does
an experiment, designed for a museum, shares the same objectives and
characteristics with its scientific equivalent? Are the museums on the receiving
end in that they only borrow experiments from sciences? Are they capable of
producing or improving experiments for sciences? In what ways does experimenting
in and for museums change the traditional notions of experiment?

While experimental museology is automatically associated with the use of digital
technologies and media, it is important to understand the worth, role, and
extent of experiment in the context of museology and museum design.  What is the
role of the digital in a museum experiment, both on the practical and
theoretical levels?  In what ways do digital technologies such as cloud
computing, AI, XR, digital twins, IoT, and the like shape and inform a museum
experiment? How does the application of digital technologies in museum
experimentation transform and advance their own development? In what ways does
digital experimentation change the traditional tasks of museums, such as
collecting, preserving, restoring, and curating? What are the social
implications of experiment-led transformation, locally and globally?

The ambitious transformation of museums as networked and distributed spaces
(Bautista and Balsamo 2011), that span physical and virtual domains, requires
new skills and significant resources. What challenges does experimental
museology face? One of such challenges is the preservation and dissemination of
performance-based cultural heritage (Kenderdine 2021).  Apart from technical
difficulties as in capturing movement or sound for cultural heritage,
experimenting may be encumbered by socio-cultural and ideological factors. Does
everyone have access to and through experimentation and its benefits? Since
digital innovation such as the application of digital twins can be afforded by
well-funded institutions, the further question is whether museum experimentation
is bound to deepen or overcome the digital divide? How does low-tech exploration
fit in the laboratory model of museums?

The construction of experiment is historically contingent. It comes with its own
rhetoric and beliefs. A historical overview of these aspects is long-overdue.
Yet we also need to ask about the potential consequences of experimental
museology. While designed to solve some problems, digital experimentation
produces new challenges for which we may not have solutions yet. What is there
to anticipate? What views and experience do museum scientists, curators, and
managers inscribe on experiment as reflected in its design and implementation?
What tensions arise in this multitude of perspectives?

As a manmade construct (Radder 2003, p. 4), even scientific experimentation is
not limited to empirical rigor. The adjective ‘experimental’ implies a degree of
tentativeness, incompleteness, and speculation. The notion of “public
hallucination” (van Fraassen 2008) frames scientific experiment as a creative
act of research in the production of new phenomena. What are those productive
imaginaries of experimental museology? The issue of balance between education
and entertainment remains relevant in the context of museum experimentation.
While experimentation allows many museums to produce new themes and thus expand
the scope of their exhibitions, it has given rise to the concern over the
historicizing functions of museums. Bishop asks (2003, p. 24) “if the past and
the present are collapsed into transhistorical and transgeographical clusters,
how can the differences between places and periods be understood?”.  What are
technical, ideological, political, and cultural implications of this
experimental relativism on the future museum?

We will accept contributions in English and Portuguese. Please send your
proposals directly to Gabriele ( and 
Kristen ( with "Heranca_Special Issue" in the subject 
field. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Important Dates

Proposal Submission (700 words): Monday 13th December 2021
Notification of Acceptance: Friday 14th January 2022
Full Paper Submissions (7,000 words, excluding titles, abstracts, keywords,
bibliography, figures, and tables): Monday 14th March 2022
Blind peer reviews: Friday 15th April 2022
Full Paper Re-submission (where applicable): Monday 2nd May 2022


Bataille, G. (1930/1986) Museum. In Georges Bataille: Writings on Laughter,
Sacrifice, Nietzsche, Un-Knowing. Translated by Anette Michelson. The MIT Press,
p. 25.

Bautista, S. and Balsamo, A. (2011) Understanding the Distributed Museum:
Mapping the Spaces of Museology in Contemporary Culture. In J. Trant and D.
Bearman (eds), Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum

Beek, G van. (1990) The Rites of Things: A Critical View of Museums, Objects,
and Metaphors. Etnofoor: FETISHISM 3(1): 26-44.

Bishop, C. (2013) Radical Museology: or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of
Contemporary Art? Koenig Books, London.

Bjerregaard, P. (2020) Introduction: Exhibitions as research. In P. Bjerregaard
(ed), Exhibitions as Research: Experimental Methods in Museums, edited by.
Routledge, pp. 1-16.

Fors, V. (2012) The empty meeting-place – Museum metaphors and their implication
for learning. Designs for Learning, 5(1-2), 130–145.

Fraassen, Bas C. van.  2008. Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of
Perspective. Oxford University Press

Haldrup, M., Achiam, M. and Drotner, K. (2021) Introduction: For an Experimental
Museology. In M. Achiam, M. Haldrup, and K. Drotner (eds.), Experimental
Museology: Institutions, Representations, Users. Routledge, pp. 1-12.

Harris, J. (2015) Embodiment in the Museum – What is a Museum? Nouvelles
tendances de la muséologie | New Trends in Museology, ICOFOM Study Series, 43b :

Kenderdine, S. (2021) Experimental Museology: Immersive Visualization and
Cultural (Big) Data. In M. Achiam, M. Haldrup, and K. Drotner (eds.),
Experimental Museology: Institutions, Representations, Users. Routledge, pp.

Radder, H. (2003) Toward a More Developed Philosophy of Scientific
Experimentation. In H. Radder (ed.), The Philosophy of Scientific
Experimentation. The University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 1-18.

Rössig, W. and Jahn, L.D. (2019) The Open Planning Laboratory at the Museum für
Naturkunde – Experiences from First Attempts in a Participative Exhibition
Planning and Working in Public. Curator: The Museum Journal 62(4): 527-544.

Staniszweski, M. A. (2000) Museum as Web Site, Archive as Muse: Some Notes and
Ironies of the Conventions of Display. Convergence: The International Journal of
Research into New Media of Technologies 6(2): 10-16.

Dr Gabriele Salciute Civiliene
Lecturer in Digital Humanities Education, FHEA
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Room C0.08, Chesham Bldg, Strand Campus, WC2R 2LS
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7848 7145

        Date: 2021-10-23 05:35:37+00:00
        From: Ken Friedman <>
        Subject: Journal of Controversial Ideas

Dear Colleagues,

One of the more interesting journals now being published is the Journal of
Controversial Ideas. It is co-founded and edited by three distinguished
philosophers,     Jeff McMahan of Oxford, Francesca Minerva of Milan, and Peter
Singer of Princeton.

The home page states the mission of this journal:

“... the Journal of Controversial Ideas the first open access peer-reviewed
interdisciplinary journal specifically created to promote free inquiry on
controversial topics.

"The Journal of Controversial Ideas offers a forum for careful rigorous
unpolemical discussion of issues that are widely considered controversial in the
sense that certain views about them might be regarded by many people as morally
socially or ideologically objectionable or offensive. …

"We welcome submissions in all areas of academic research insofar as the topics
discussed are relevant to society at large.We aim to publish papers that are
likely to advance knowledge and promote free inquiry and rational

The articles in the Journal of Controversial Ideas are usually well-written and
interesting. Because the editors encourage controversial ideas, they are often
timely engagements with current debates in public life and academic life.


Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The Journal
of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in
Cooperation with Elsevier | URL:
Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation
| Tongji University | Shanghai, China | Email |
Academia | D&I

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