Design arrives at the museum
When museums are renewing their collections, service design and digitality play an increasingly important role.
What would a ring from the Iron Age look like in your finger? How would you explore a demolished building? How to make an animation out of a Marimekko pattern?
All this and so much more is available in the museums of the greater Helsinki area as local exhibition concepts are being renewed. For example the National Museum, the Design Museum and EMMA provide new service design focused exhibitions. See our tips of design exhibitions in Helsinki here.
Service design resides in the core
While museums are competing for consumers’ time and money against other leisure-time activities, a visit to the museum as an experience is drawing more attention. Design is openly displayed in museums – not only through the exhibition objects but also through services. Service design resides in the core of customer experience.
“People come to museums looking for more than information, although information plays a greater role in the National Museum compared to art museums,” says Heikki Aittala, curator at the National Museum.
The museum will open a new prehistoric section in April. It utilizes digitalization in many ways.
“The last major renewal took place nearly twenty years ago. In this time, technology has vastly moved forward, which will now become visible,” Aittala explains.
The exhibition will include several virtual works, such as holograms and 3D objects. For example, the visitor is able to try on virtual rings. Genuine rings and battle axes are still on display, although the number of objects has been reduced. The exhibition highlights the ten most important objects that profile the entire museum.
“Iconic objects facilitate customer experience and increase its value. Looking at them accumulates intellectual capital, which is what people seek in a museum,” says Hanna Forssell, project manager at the National Museum.
Exhibition space and visitors’ premises are being completely relocated. Space design is provided by design agency KOKO3, Tuomas Siitonen Office and production company Fantomatico.
“We have contemplated the museum from a customer point of view, and we intend to break the traditional sections of ethnology, numismatics and art history. Scientific boundaries have no importance to our customers as long as the content is interesting to them. They all recount our shared history,” Forssell says.
Design Museum emphasizes design’s importance
It is clear that design forms the core of the Design Museum in Helsinki. In recent years, the museum has focused on developing its customer experience together with design agency Bond. In the spring 2017, the museum launched its renewed collections exhibition: Utopia Now – The Story of Finnish Design.
“The new collections exhibition reviews professionalism in the design field and all the related aspects. One of the exhibition themes explores the values included in objects as well as the impact that design can make,” says Hanna Kapanen, educational curator at the museum.
The new exhibition has been built to follow different paths that provide information in various ways. For example, it includes a route of objects that visitors are allowed to touch. Among other things, the visitor gets to test how to control one of the icons of Finnish forest industry, the Scorpion harvester by Ponsse.
You can also choose a Marimekko pattern and animate it. Furthermore, the exhibition enables time travel to Finland’s pavilion in the World Fair of Paris in 1900 by using a virtual headset and 3D modelling.
Since 2009, the Design Museum has produced several web exhibitions addressing essential phenomena ja factors in Finnish design. Digital material has also been used in the collections exhibition.
“A digital archive can store plenty of information while offering more possibilities of engagement,” says Kapanen.
New areas of design are represented by service design and addressed by launching a guest case called “School Dinners Rock!” as well as by introducing the gaming industry and the hugely popular Angry Birds game.
More room for design at EMMA
The Espoo Museum of Modern Art aka EMMA will change its floor plan in the end of 2017. The exhibition space dedicated to design will expand to encompass 1000 m². EMMA is the largest museum in Finland measured by area, and it will feature a permanent collection of artist and designer couple Rut Bryk and Tapio Wirkkala’s works. In the future, the collection will also present works from other interesting artists.
“It is natural for design to go hand in hand with modern art. The dialogue between design and visual arts is always in the core of museum exhibitions. Now we can intensify it further,” says Iia Palovaara, communications coordinator at EMMA.
In 2015–2016, EMMA and Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation organized a competition called Sharing, while looking for creative ideas. The competition attracted 100 entries, five of which were awarded.
“The ensemble is now being developed independently. Heini-Emilia Saari and Johanna Brummer of Studio Wanderlust are responsible for designing the space.”
The first temporary exhibition in the new space is Still/Life curated by designer Harri Koskinen.
In addition to this exhibition opening in November, the museum will present some of its collections by opening its storage space to the public. As part of its service design, EMMA has previously expanded art exhibitions outside the given space, to social media, for example, and art can be enjoyed through smart phones by using the EMMA mobile application.
“Social media is an important contemporary channel for museums. We have produced extra materials about the exhibitions for example on EMMA’s Instagram,” Palovaara explains.
Sounds like 2017!