How is that you get so deeply involved in this area of work?
I’m a Philologist, due to my passion for reading and for languages. From there I moved in the professional field into communication, which in fact has language as a framework. And when the Internet appeared back in 1995, it seemed to me that an ocean of possibilities opened up in the world of information and communication and I went headlong.
Which is the best thing about running the Digital Strategy of a Museum?
The feeling that we can indeed have an impact on how people, users, visitors relate with the museum, our heritage, and artworks. Museums are only starting to explore and learn the possibilities that the digital world opens us. It’s a tremendously exciting time.
Is there something related with technology that you don’t like?
Not about the technology itself, but maybe to the perception or use we –society, companies, institutions- address technology.
Of course, tech is key today, it’s extremely useful, has changed the way we work, communicate, consume goods, etc, but at the end is just a tool, a way to achieve our goals, it’s not the purpose in itself. The real important thing is to know why we are doing things, for whom, what content we offer and then will come the how, the channels, the technology. I always say that Strategy goes before Technology.
In your twitter account and in the blog of MNAC you share digital strategies applied by other Museums or knowledge that could be used even in other areas of culture, like the article “10 Key takeaways from Museums and the Web 2017”. Which cultural product or Museum do you think that is the one with the best practices in digital strategies nowadays?
There are so many! and every day new good practices emerge. To name a few:
– The Tate in London pioneered a comprehensive digital strategy and applied advanced analytics for the study of online and mobile users’ behavior.
– The TateKids children’s web site or the Metropolitan, MetKids, made for children by children.
– The Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam stood out for its opening of the online collection, in its renewed website (do not forget to visit “My Rijkstudio”).
– The magnificent Collection Wall of the Cleveland Museum
– The accessible Video Blogs of the Whitney Museum
– From a European collaborative point of view, I highlight the project of Europeana, a platform that makes available more than 50 million objects of museums and libraries.
– In Spain I would highlight the semantic web of the Prado Museum and its multimedia channel, Pradomedia. The educational website Educathyssen.
– And, well… I have to mention the advances in digital projects of my own museum (otherwise they’ll fire me!). At MNAC we started with the website revamping www.museunacional.cat/es, then we continued increasing our presence and activity on social media and recently with the participatory social app Unique Visitors that already contains more than 100 itineraries created by the visitors, or the possibility to visit the renovated galleries of Modern Art through beacons.
You have 9 hours to explain the Students of the MA in Arts and Cultural Management at UIC Barcelona about New Technologies in Museums. What is the main message that you would like them to take?
The main purpose of the use of technology in museums is to better serve our audiences, to provide them with diverse layers of information and knowledge, to increase the quality of the experience. Experiment and try new things. And share (a lot!).
How do you keep up with the changes in this area?
This is a challenge for many of us. The best strategy could be networking and read a lot! Blogs and Twitter are very good source of professional information, it provides wide access to international conferences presentations, articles, white papers, etc. Also, it helps to have an open and curious mind to be updated. Never stop learning!
Conxa Rodà is the Head of Strategy, Innovation and Digital Transformation at the Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya (MNAC), in Barcelona, but besides that, she has been Director of Projects at the Picasso Museum, participated in the international program committee of the “Museums and the Web” Congress, and she has plenty experience in the application of digital strategies in Museums.