Museums as mediators

Florence’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology takes part in Museomix

Elena Bertelli
November 6, 2019 - 10:05

From November 8 to 10, twelve museums in seven nations will participate in Museomix, an annual creative “makeathon” that transforms museums into workshops to design and implement innovative mediation tools.



Preparing for Museomix



This is the first time a Florentine museum is participating in this international event as the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology joins its counterparts in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Ecuador, India and Italy. (The City Museum of Ancona in Le Marche is the other Italian participant.)



While the “makeathon”, a kind of “hackathon”, takes place over three days, museums have been preparing since the beginning of the year: institutions apply to be hosts and participants from various fields apply to become part of the transformative team. Six people with different skills, supported by volunteers and museum staff, work together over the three days on a concrete project aimed at improving the visitor experience and engaging new audiences. Teams are made up of communicators, designers, makers, computer programmers/developers, curators and cultural mediators.





The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of Florence is part of the university museum system and holds a vast collection of ethnological objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas that were gathered over five centuries. The museum was founded in 1869 by Paolo Mantegazza in a crucial period for the creation of Italian identity, when Florence was the capital of the newly formed Italian nation. During the colonial fascist period, the museum was transferred to the prestigious Palazzo Nonfinito, where it is still housed today.



On November 28, the museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation. Taking part in Museomix is an innovative and participatory way to rethink the entire institution on this occasion, starting with its original mission and moving towards an accessible, shared and contemporary vision by opening up a dialogue with a diversified public. With the collaboration of Associazione Culturale Forme, the museum has held events with the local population, students and foreign residents of Florence, encouraging various groups to participate more actively in the revitalization of the museum, so that its mission becomes more contemporary and its socio-cultural value is elevated.





Changing the way people perceive museums and inverting the process that leads cultural institutions to adopt new technologies is one of the main aims of Museomix. Whereas in a regular customer/supplier relationship, the museum first identifies a need and then asks for a professional advice in order to find an affordable and effective solution, during Museomix, invited professionals are the ones who identify what the museum needs based on analysis.



Among the resources provided are a FabLab, internet, a TechShop with electronic and technical prototyping materials, a Mixroom (where the communication team produces content to be posted in real time on the web) and content experts, infinite sources of knowledge available to museum-specific information. Over the weekend, the team develops an idea and work on the production of a prototype, be it an object, branding or storytelling. The clock runs out at 4pm on the Sunday, when the public is invited to test prototypes.





View the results of Museomix and meet the participants on November 10 at 4pm. Admission is free. See for more information.

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