Museums and the Web is one of the annual events par excellence for cultural sector professionals from all over the world interested in research and innovation. It has been held annually since 1997 in various cities in the United States and Asia and brings together cultural managers, developers, students, researchers, technology experts, etc., to present practical cases and digital tendencies.
Museums and the Web has become an important network of knowledge regarding the most outstanding museum projects of recent years thanks to its online professional forum, the papers presented at the conferences and its “GLAMi Awards”, previously known as “Best of the Web”. The name of the awards has been changed with the idea of reaching beyond the web and being able to award prizes to any project responding to the initials GLAMi (Galleries/Libraries, Archives and Museums Innovations).
At the twentieth edition of the MW conference, which is to be held in the first week of April in Los Angeles, the CCCB Lab Blog has been nominated for the GLAMi Awards, together with 95 other international projects. The nominees represent interesting practical cases of how museums are working with education, the opening-up of archives and collections, participation and relations with audiences or scientific and cultural outreach, among other subjects.
The CCCB Lab Blog, a window on cultural innovation
The CCCB Lab Blog has been running since 2009 as a window from this department of the CCCB specifically devoted to research and innovation in the cultural sphere. Over the years it has become consolidated as a digital magazine with an editorial and art-based approach, with a professional community of followers behind it. Every Tuesday it publishes an article specialising in subjects such as new audiences, open science, the digital transformation in museums, expanded education, etc.
The Blog has two possible routes to winning a GLAMi Award:
- People’s Choice. Registered members on the website of Museums and the Web can vote until 7 April 2016.
- Through a judging committee formed by specialists at the Conference who decide on the winning projects. These will be announced publicly on 8 April in Los Angeles.
In the year 2011, the CCCB was awarded a prize for the exhibition project “The City of Horrors” and in 2009, the Picasso Museum and the MACBA won prizes for Social Media Strategy and for the MACBA Web Radio project respectively. You can see a list of MW winners from previous years on Wikipedia. This project is one of the four Spanish projects presented to the awards. The other three are the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Museo del Prado and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
CCCB to participate at Museums and the Web Los Angeles
This year, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona will be represented at the Los Angeles event, thanks to a scholarship awarded by the event’s sponsors to Lucia Calvo, journalist and contents editor of the Centre’s website. Ultimately, if the CCCB is lucky and the CCCB Lab Blog is chosen as a winning project, she will collect the prize.
In January 2013 I took on responsibility for the CCCB website. An exciting and simultaneously terrorific task which I set about at the time with great enthusiasm. I am no digital native and to execute this new undertaking with guarantees, I needed to surround myself with people familiar with the digital environment who would be able to help me when making decisions on this new area of my professional responsibility.
I didn’t hesitate to form the CCCB Website Committee – a cross-disciplinary, fluid, efficient and high-spirited work group — nor in deciding who should form part of it: Sònia Aran, Lucia Calvo, Maria Farràs and Edgar Riu.
The first thing that we did was to analyse the Centre’s website. It is essential to have a diagnosis before any decisions can be made. The website, it must be said here and now, was promoted by our colleague Teresa Roig, and it has become an operational and very highly valued tool since 2007 and up to today, as we are on the verge of presenting its redesign.
In the very first work sessions we realised that the website was in need of many improvements. The digital world is so supersonic that six years are an eternity. But work on what was originally intended to be mere changes soon showed up the glaringly obvious: we needed a new website.
Breaking down, dissecting and deconstructing the website architecture, we gradually drew up a parallel architecture that was much better suited to the new needs. But this new structure had to respond to certain objectives. And this was the first milestone that we set ourselves.
Why did we want to redesign the website and what goals did we want to accomplish? We obtained the answer after many hours of work and it can be summarised in the following four points:
1. Increase the number of visits (virtual and real-life) to the CCCB. To achieve this, we had to improve the website architecture, interrelate many more of its contents, simplify and clarify the service information, improve the website’s positioning and present a design that would adapt to all mobile devices.
2. Promote in-house contents converting a website-agenda into a space that would give higher visibility to the different types of contents and that would give added value to the archive.
3. Improve the corporate image and the transparency of the CCCB website by simplifying the corporate texts, unifying the channels for contact with the public and creating a unitary, simple and clear image, based on the new CCCB logo.
4. Boost the income of the CCCB through an increase in and greater visibility of online ticket sales, growth in the number of Friends of the CCCB, plus an increase in and heightened visibility of CCCB venue hire.
So we had the what and the why of the website redesign. Now we needed to establish the roadmap. Firstly, we needed the complicity of the management, which we found immediately in the then director of the centre, Marçal Sintes, and its assistant director, Elisenda Poch. Elisenda was the person who gave absolute priority to the project, who placed at our disposal the Systems team, led by Gerard Bel, and who allocated the necessary budget.
The foundations were thus settled and secure, and we could now start to construct the building. It was the time, also, to hire the services of external professionals who would guarantee the results that we were seeking. This led us to choose the team of designers at DOMO-A, plus the company LaMagnética to carry out SEO analysis and guarantee good positioning of the new website in search engines such as Google, and finally, the usability company Estudio Torres Burriel which was to guarantee that any decisions taken would facilitate the navigation of users around the website.
Following their work, the adaptation of the contents manager began. Starting from zero with a new contents manager was beyond our budget, but it was necessary to adapt to the new architecture the manager that the company Inte created in 2007. And this program adjustment was carried out by the company Sonicon hand in hand with Adrià Vila and David Berruezo.
Meanwhile, the day-to-day work in-house at the CCCB was captained by Iñaki Sainz, the Centre’s new Head of Systems, accompanied by Edgar Riu and Lucia Calvo, the project’s webmasters. Later, Rosa Puig took over the reins with regard to the static texts on the website substituting Lucia, who took maternity leave.
Two and a half years after taking on the challenge of the CCCB website, its redesign is finally complete. What was a project is now a reality, and, therefore, no longer belongs to those of us who have been its guides and mentors. Now the baton is being passed on to the entire team at the Centre, which will be responsible for looking after it.
But the CCCB’s website, above all, belongs to its users. This redesign is intended to facilitate navigation and searches for contents. It is designed to highlight the agenda and service information. It aims to be clearer, more graphic, more relational, more transparent. And it has to be a responsive website that can be consulted from any mobile device. In short, it has to be the instrument that will allow the CCCB to continue to stand as a reference point among the cultural centres of the 21st century in Barcelona, Catalonia and the world.
For the first time, and with the aim of setting a precedent, #MuseumWeek will bring together a score of Spanish museums and over 200 cultural centres from all over Europe in an initiative whose aim is to make culture more easily accessible via Twitter. It will take place in the week of 24 to 28 March, and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona will be one of the virtual scenarios where this proposal will unfold.
#MuseumWeek will fill the web with comments, anecdotes, questions, and answers. It will offer prizes to participants, share knowledge and experiences and become a meeting point for lovers of art and culture. The museums will open their doors via Twitter, offering a previously unseen or little-known image of their premises, their activities, and the people who work there.
Each day of the week will be devoted to a theme, which will allow in-depth study of two major events linked to the CCCB: the inauguration of the exhibition Metamorphosis and the celebration of 20 years of the CCCB. And, at the same time, each of the themes will serve to explain certain aspects of the event in question. Thus, #MuseumWeek will be organised in the following way:
Monday 24: A day in the life
This title encompasses all the stories that take place at the centre the day before the inauguration of an exhibition. How the curators work to ensure that everything is in order; how the exhibition coordinators organise themselves; what the press department does; the final touches made to the exhibition space… “A day in the life of an exhibition” will mean that things that are not usually shown will be revealed.
Tuesday 25: Test your knowledge
Coinciding directly with the inauguration of Metamorphosis, followers will be asked diverse questions related with the exhibition and its protagonists: the Quay Brothers, Jan Švankmajer, and Ladislas Starewitch. The aim is not so much to put Internet users to the test as to let people in on anecdotes and interesting facts about the exhibition, one of the CCCB’s exhibitions of the year. What’s more, people who participate will have a chance to win different prizes.
Wednesday 26: Your story
Once the inauguration is over, Wednesday will be devoted to visitors to the centre and their stories, but it will also feature the staff of the CCCB itself. What memory does the public have of the CCCB? Which exhibition did people like best? Which activities do they take part in? And as for the staff, what is their best CCCB moment? As the title indicates, “Your story” is the link between the visitor, the staff members, and the CCCB over the course of 20 years of history. And there will be a prize on offer too!
Thursday 27: Buildings behind the art
Continuing with the anniversary theme, Thursday will be devoted to the CCCB as a cultural venue. We will recover old images of the building when it was the Casa de la Caritat (Almshouse), show spaces that are unknown to the public, and reveal interesting stories about the centre… In short: what hides behind this 18th century building?
Friday 28: Ask the expert
The #MuseumWeek proposal for Friday is devoted to the experts, but we are going to turn it around and make the public an expert on the CCCB. How will we do it? Under the tag #sabiesque, we will be providing capsules of information that anyone with an interest in culture should know about order to become an expert on our centre.
So, are you up for forming part of Museum Week?