February 4th was an exciting day for staff at Museum Wiesbaden: two events took place that same evening, one at six – the online guided tour of the Expressionist show August Macke. Paradies! Paradies?, open to the general public – followed immediately afterwards by a digital meet&greet with Roman Zieglgänsberger, the exhibition’s curator, and a creative workshop with Daniel Altzweig (from the edu dept.) aimed at professionals in the cultural blogosphere.
From Drawing Board to Live Event
But how does an event like this actually come about? Well, first of all you need the initial spark of an idea. And there are dozens of points to consider before that idea becomes reality. These range from backend technical issues and challenges to agreeing on a standardized hashtag for the evening – all in all, dozens of tiny stumbling blocks that are overcome with a good dose of team spirit and a sense of shared fun! Even just a simple thing like a digital tour throws up a host of questions. Like how long should the tour be? What platforms can it be streamed on? What do we need for the creative workshop? What should we put in the kits we dispatch to the cultural bloggers beforehand? Throughout the process, Anke von Heyl, our museum docent, was on hand with plenty of advice and support. So, with the big day nearly upon us, we sent out surprise kits for the participants of the follow-up creative workshop for reviewers and bloggers… And then the time had come: one last ‘sound check’ in the afternoon and we were ready to go.
And the results are there for all the world to see – pardon – to read:
Thanks to the varied blogposts by the workshop participants, the evening’s explosions of colour and paradisial sensations could be relived for weeks afterwards. Here are some of our favourite articles that other bloggers posted: Kunst, Corona und aktuelle Sehnsüchte is the title of Maria-Bettina Eich’s post on her blog for families with young kids, Kindamtellerrand. Then there was the post ‘Macken im Paradies’ (with its pun on Macke/Macken – or ‘quirks’ in German), by Michael Bauer, who by his own account can often be found wandering through the galleries at the MuWi. Other bloggers who regularly enjoy visiting the museum are the ‘culture whisperer’ Lena Kettner and the author of the Farbenfreundin blog, Bärbel Klein. But, as we all know, Museum Wiesbaden had to close its doors on 1 November 2020 and only reopened to in-person visits on 11 March. So in the intervening months the only way to visit the museum was online, via a digital walk-through or via other digital offerings from home. The workshop put the theme of ‘paradise’ foremost in everyone’s mind, as docent Anke von Heyl reveals, in the title of her piece. Everyone was agreed on one thing, that our longing for art was crucial in times when access to culture is limited, as Wibke Ladwig puts it in her article on her blog Sinnundverstand. For Anita Thanhofer, at any rate, one thing was certain: this is how public engagement works in the digital realm! Anja Gebauer, another blogger, also chose to focus on online education work by museums. While Esther Klippel also dedicated a piece to our exhibition, opening the door on paradise just a crack with ‘Gestatten – Paradies! Paradise?’ on her blog Gestatten-Kunst.
But what actually is the exhibition title supposed to mean? What do the exclamation mark and question mark stand for? Wera Wecker explores this question in her article ‘Paradise! Paradise?’ In her article, Angelika Schoder explores what paradise meant for August Macke, when she writes: ‘He captured his idea of paradise in various places – in the home, in the Rhineland, in neighbouring Switzerland, as well as on the other side of the Mediterranean, in Africa.’ And in her post, also titled ‘Paradise! Paradise?’, Ines Stadie examines one question posed by the creative workshop itself: ‘So where [or what] is paradise for you?’ You can see screengrabs of the event and of the workshop on the Instagram accounts of Laura Krautkrämer (@krautkraemerin), Kai Eric Schwichtenberg (@retrospektiven), Michael Stacheder (@theaterwelten), Dagmar Eckhardt (@dagmareckhardt), Clia Vogel (@digitale_oekotante), and Ute Vogel (frauvogel). The workshop encouraged the bloggers to create a paradise of their own using various materials. What did they envision? A water-side dream house at the foot of mountains? Maybe. Or maybe paradise wasn’t so much a place, but a person: Elisabeth Macke, the artist’s wife. Seen through the painter’s eyes, she also casts an Arcadian spell on viewers today.
...curator’s tour, Roman Zieglgänsberger said:
‘For me personally, this was an immensely exciting new experience. Normally, we guide real visitors through the exhibition and can respond immediately to their questions. But we couldn’t do this in this case – you walk through the exhibition galleries with the camera team in tow and you don’t really get any feedback on what you’re saying, because they’re all also highly focussed on what they’re doing, so you can’t really tell whether you’ve actually said what you were planning on saying. So it was really nice to receive the positive feedback we ended up getting over the following days. The feedback came through various channels, including an “analogue” postcard sent in by snail-mail addressed to the entire staff. We scanned it and sent it out to everyone on the staff mailing list. They were thrilled!’
creative workshop Daniel Altzweig of the edu deptartment had this to say:
‘I must admit, my first thought was it would be impossible to convey creative, primarily visual ideas just by standing in front of the camera. But I was soon proven wrong. What it showed is that it’s better to treat it like a conversation with people who are all highly motivated and interested. And this kind of conversation is conducted not only through words, but also through thoughts and by freewheeling association as a group, delving into our own minds for a moment, doing some origami, writing and cutting, which resulted in the soothing quiet of many minds occupied with a task. The whole thing was cleverly interspersed with questions addressed to me by the moderator on behalf of the participants who wanted to know more about the educational work at MuWi. This kind of meeting did me a world of good – especially given the lack of an audience or contact during the pandemic. It’s nice to get such a positive response, even long after the event!’
Some results from the creative workshop can currently be seen in our EDU forum. Maybe you’ll be inspired to add something of your own?
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
During shutdown, the thirst for culture was great, and the free guided tour of the current winter show August Macke. Paradise! Paradise? seems to have hit the spot. On the day the digital tour went live, the (briefly overloaded) museum website experienced heavy traffic, with around 12,000 access requests at certain moments and close to 5000 viewers on MuWi’s YouTube channel. Later streaming dates of the recorded event also enjoyed high visitor numbers – showing that our decision paid off to make the guided tour widely available as a free digital offering during the exhibition’s scheduled run. And on 10 March, the whole recorded curator’s tour with Roman Zieglgänsberger has been streamable on the Museum Wiesbaden homepage.
Translation: Lance Anderson