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PLATEFORME 10 digital

“What makes us different makes us strong”

Three institutions, one joint digitalisation project. Photo: Simon Tanner
Three institutions, one joint digitalisation project. Photo: Simon Tanner

The Lausanne museum district is growing. Over the next few years, 25,000 square metres of new exhibition space will be created. Already years before this district’s opening, PLATEFORME 10 digital has presented selected exhibits from design, art and photography within one project. To mark its end, the directors of the participating institutions talk about virtual reality glasses, selfies in front of works of art and a collaboration that has only just begun.

Tatyana Franck, you are the director of the Musée de l’Elysée and were one of the driving forces behind the “PLATEFORME 10 digital” project. What has the project brought you?
We have opened a door to the future! I think this provides leverage for more global harmony. Because culture is a reservoir of knowledge; it is also impartial and serves society. As museum director, I can contribute to this. That by far offsets the long working days and short nights a project of this magnitude brings with it. We also worked on the project “en famille”. Together we overcame many obstacles.

Do you like the idea that in the near future it will be possible to visit entire exhibitions digitally? Maybe even with the help of virtual reality glasses?
Oh yes, imagine how much this facilitates access for professionals and enthusiasts who, for reasons like geographical distance, censorship or physical disability, cannot visit an exhibition. In addition, a virtual version can offer a first look at projects and works of art. This can provide motivation to visit the exhibition in person later.

Is it still the same experience?
Of course something virtual cannot replace the emotional power that can arise when art and visitors come together face to face. But to know that these works exist not only virtually, but also in reality, that these works stand for new currents and forms of expression, keeps you awake.

When does an exhibition leave a lasting impression?
The best thing that can happen is that you leave a museum feeling like you discussed a challenging topic with friends, which you would like to continue to deliberate on in-depth.

Even though the buildings are still under construction, a joint exhibition is already underway. Photo: Jean-Bernard Sieber

Bernard Fibicher, you were a curator in Sion, Zurich, and Bern, and now you’ve been the director of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts for more than ten years. When did you realise that digitalisation would also have a huge impact on the museum world?
About twelve years ago. We were working on a digital object database. It made our work much easier. For some years now, however, I have also noticed that the public can be tied to museums through digital tools.

“Competition is very important, it takes everyone further – on a friendly basis.”

Bernard Fibicher

How do you feel when visitors pull out their mobile phones in museums to take photographs, make phone calls and write texts?
There are now ingenious apps that can enrich a visit to the museum. I find people who stand in front of the highlights of a collection and immortalise the moment with a selfie disturbing. But this shows again: nothing can replace the aura of an original picture.

For PLATEFORME 10 you worked together with the Musée de l’Elysée and the mudac. Did you discover anything there that you miss?
In the other museums I actually only discovered things we (hopefully) have as well: enthusiasm, professionalism, a clear profile and a sense of innovation.

Quite honestly: Do you actually see the museums in the neighbourhood as friends or as competitors?
Competition is very important, it takes everyone further – on a friendly basis. With the new PLATEFORME 10, the benchmark is just around the corner. This cannot be ignored. Each of the three museums has areas of excellence. As a trio, we are strong because of what unites us, but also because of what distinguishes us from one another.

If you work this closely together, the benchmark is just around the corner, says Bernard Fibicher, director of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (centre) about his neighbours Chantal Prod'Hom, director of the mudac (left) and Tatyana Franck, director of the Musée de l’Elysée (right). Photo: Jean-Bernard Sieber

Chantal Prod’Hom, since you founded mudac in 2000, you’ve been said to have a “good nose” for the issues of our time. How do you do it?
Is that what they say? Wonderful – I would like to have this ability. But in order to grasp the zeitgeist, we have to snoop around, be curious and look, look and look again. That’s hard work. Only then can we develop a selective eye for the new instead of simply listening to what is said to be the trend.

“We don't always have to touch things to know they exist.”

Chantal Prod’Hom

Digitising your collections was quite a challenge for the mudac, why?
Because of this third dimension! Our objects are almost all three-dimensional. It wasn’t easy to position cameras so that the images they generated had a high enough resolution level. But the result is incredibly valuable. Even if our buildings don’t exist yet, the project already exists in an experimental and digital form.

So they also show the digital arts?
But of course. The digital world is everywhere and we don’t always have to touch things to know they exist. It’s best if we take on this technology, play with it, instead of accepting that digitalisation is what will determine us. We also collect digital art. A few years ago we bought a wonderful work by interactive designer Camille Scherrer. She gave us a USB stick – it had all her work on it.

In future, will we simply consume art at home on the sofa?
I wouldn’t put it like that. I’m convinced that the direct encounter with an object will always be a unique experience. This relationship to reality will probably not be replaced by any computer.