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#WomenInCulture: a chat with the “Museum Doctor” Ngaire Blankenberg

CloudGuide

Disclaimer: this story is accompanied by a dose of lucky coincidences.

We ran into her online, more specifically through the TedX Talks speech she gave in Hamburg in 2015. We were looking for some concrete inspiration concerning the core theme of #MuseumWeek 2019: #WomenInCulture as well as wanted additional insight in order to continue with the movement of woman in culture of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Her German speech was called: How you can activate the soft power of your museums and we were hooked. This woman, Ngaire Blankenberg, who lived in Canada, France, South Africa and who travels the world every other day (“I travel a lot, I fly at 7 o’ clock in the morning, not the holiday flight, and it’s like 80% men on the flight”) is currently based in Barcelona (as CloudGuide is) and she kindly agreed to meet up offline, in front of a cup of coffee.

She calls herself a “Museum Doctor”, because, as she explained, it was very complicated to make people understand her job. She isn’t exactly a curator, a consultant or even a manager: “I help to fix or give birth to a museum… I’m like a midwife or a doctor.” She ended up with this profession “pretty much by accident”, from being a television producer in South Africa until becoming the Head of the European Projects of the Lord Cultural Resources based in Paris.

She then worked for the Exhibition Design Company in Amsterdam deciding afterwards to move forward on her own. Having collaborated with so many different cultural institutions around the globe, Blankenberg affirmes that the experience with every museum is indeed a case by case scenario, but noticing that: “The European museums come from a different tradition regarding art and museums, and it’s quite a leaders approach, focused on the collections, less on the visitors”.

It’s not easy to recognize a pattern through different cultural institutions because: “Every museum is different, but every museum thinks they are more different than other museums… they overestimate their uniqueness”.

What Blankenberg strongly believes in, no matter which peculiarity the museum carries with it, is an admission free policy: “Admissions are to make money from tourists and I understand the value of that… but what about residents?  When I lived in Toronto I never brought my 2 children to a museum, there was no way I was gonna pay 60 dollars to go to a museum every week”.

In addition to the inspiring insight into Blackenberg's life we also wanted to know more about her personal history as a woman active in the cultural field.

“It’s actually a question of power. Museums are like 70% women, everywhere. It’s a quintessential pink ghetto employment, so for me the story is not about women access. First its about representation. Second is about pay, equal pay, huge issue. And third is about power. Who’s the main director? Who tend to be largely men in particular in Europe. And I found, to be honest, the cultural sector in Europe to be more sexist than anything I’ve ever experience before, I am astounded. Its not just the cultural sector, but the society in whole. How you can have like a legal environment that intrench the right of women and you have a workplace culture where women are not present. Either its invisible or diminished. And for me it’s like one of the biggest things that I haven’t expected.

I can’t believe how many times I walked into a room and it’s like all men. I travel a lot, I fly at 7 o’ clock in the morning, not the holiday flight, and it’s like 80% men on the flight.

I’ve often come accross a scenario where I say something and somebody, younger guy mostly, would say: “ I think what you are trying to say is…” What I am trying to say it’s what I said!”

I think that you have to understand what you are getting yourself into. There is a lot more room for entrepreneurial or activities outside of the institutions, that is still related to working in cultural sector, and I think people should consider that as an option. A lot of the times, when people study museology, science communication, whatever they are doing, their goal is to get a job inside a museum, and I think that we should expand the goals. There are a lot of interesting things still to do in the cultural sector and institutions are not the most innovated and are not necessarily defining it.

There is opportunity but maybe not where you think the opportunity is.

I think for women that wanna work into this field, with museums I think it’s great, but you should actually do it with your eyes open!”.



#MUSEUMWEEK 2019, IT’S A WRAP!

CloudGuide

It has been a few weeks since the end of #MuseumWeek 2019: the first worldwide social media event that completed it’s sixth edition this year.

The goal of the event was to raise awareness on the core theme for this year: Women In Culture and, along with that, to encourage worldwide cultural institutions to create content and organize activities (online and offline) according to the various hashtags of the day.

As you probably already know, if you came across to our recent content, CloudGuide was one of the Digital Partners of the event!

We took this role very seriously and were excited for this new opportunity. We decided to involve our community by proposing to our collaborating museums, art galleries and various cultural sites to share with us material related to the different themes of the day. Since we have an amazing community the response rate was very positive: over 40 cultural institutions decided to take part in the event with us.

With the large amount of content that received we were able to create 7 very special guides (one for each day) on the CloudGuide app and we produced over 150 Tweets and Facebook posts and almost 200 Instagram posts (between feeds and stories).

Through this fantastic experience CloudGuide has reinforced its relationships with it’s current collaborating institutions, as well as welcomed many new members. We discovered many stories, we came across different and inspiring women from all over the world and, most importantly, we helped #MuseumWeek by spreading culture and reaching out to audiences from around the world.

Looking (already) forward to the next edition we invite all the cultural institutions and all the museum lovers across the planet to keep the spirit alive, by continuing to organize events throughout the year and to highlight the stories of Women in culture of yesterday, today and tomorrow.



The Postal Museum: Discover their brand new Audio Guides available on the CloudGuide app!

CloudGuide

Have you spotted last weeks big announcement?

We are referring to CloudGuide’s recent collaboration with the Postal Museum and, incase you haven’t heard about it yet, we’re here to give you an update by digging into the topic!

It must be said that this new entry in the community is indeed very special. Their brand new audioguides, available in five different languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Italian) were produced by CloudGuide, and provided to the museum at zero costs thanks to our revenue shared subscription. Feel free to get in touch with us if you want to know more about the possibility of a new revenue stream for your museum!

These specific audioguides include two tours; the first is dedicated to the story of the Postal Museum from its early years until the recent times and the second is focused on the Mail Rail Exhibition, which reveals the surprising and fascinating history of the people that worked underground for almost 80 years. The Postal Museum offers something for everyone, from all backgrounds and of all ages. Visitors even get the chance to immerse themselves in an underground exploration when taking a 15 minute ride through the hidden tunnels.

If you are thrilled to learn the story of the oldest social network of all times this is the perfect moment to make your way to London, download the CloudGuide app (if you haven’t already) and purchase, either at the counter, on their website or directly on your phone, where you will be given unique QR code that will allow you to unlock the audioguides, with no need for any additional devices. Once thats done, all your left to do is to pick your language, press play and enjoy the visit.

Ready for a fascinating trip back in time?



Next stop: Great Britain ! Recent additions to the CloudGuide community!

CloudGuide

Happy to announce that this month CloudGuide has welcomed many fantastic institutions in the UK. Geographically speaking we’ve been all over the place, from the main island to Northern Ireland. Get all set with some biscuits and a hot cup of tea to read about our most recent additions to the CloudGuide community!

The Mary Rose Museum: Let’s start in the deep South, with the city of Portsmouth! There you’ll have the chance to find out more about the “Mary Rose”, Henry VIII's flagship and the dubious sinking of the 16th century Tudor navy warship.

The Roman baths: a popular, exquisite and photogenic historical site characterized by natural thermal baths located in the South West of England, in the Somerset county. Every year this tourist attraction and World Heritage site receives more than one million visitors a year, all looking for a day immersed in culture in the best preserved Roman remains in the world.

Afterwards don’t forget to check out the beautiful collection of historic dresses at the Fashion Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery, located close by the famous Pulteney Bridge.

The Serpentine Gallerieslet’s head to London now, specifically at the Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park. Right where visitors can discover the Serpentine Gallery and Serpentine Sackler Gallery, two impressive contemporary art galleries. The gallery’s two exhibition spaces have both gained global reputation of absolute excellence showing an incredible range of works from immerging artists, sculptors, designers and painters.

Benjamin Franklin Housecurious to find out more about one of the Founding Fathers of the United States? Stay in London and head to 36 Craven Street where you’ll find his last surviving home when you visit the dynamic museum and educational facility.

The Beatles Story: “In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life in the land of submarines…” if you are able to continue singing the lyrics to this song don’t miss the chance to book a ticket to Liverpool to visit the museum dedicated to the immortal Beatles!

National Football Museum: with more than 2,500 items displayed, this one became the biggest museum dedicated to football. It’s a dream come true for every worldwide fan! Ready for a pit stop in Manchester?

York Minster: direction York! Check out first hand the gorgeous medieval cathedral, one of the must-see’s in the city, characterized by a history that goes back to the 7th century.

Belfast Zoo: Time to fly to Belfast where visitors have the pleasure of discovering more than 120 different species of animals that call Belfast Zoo their home. Discover more during your walk inside the park with the guided tour, available on our CloudGuide app.

Have a jolly good British time everybody and make sure to download the CloudGuide app (available on your smartphone and free of charge) to discover the fantastic tours, exhibitions and guides the next time you visit these cultural insitutitons



CloudGuide is an official Digital Partner of #MuseumWeek 2019!

CloudGuide

If you are a museum enthusiast like us, you’ll be pleased to know about our digital partnership this year with #MuseumWeek, the worlds biggest social media event around cultural institutions. Last year more than 5000 cultural institutions across 120 countries took part in the initiative, and 2019 is looking even better!

Thousands of museums, galleries, science centers and cultural institutions worldwide are invited to celebrate culture over 7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags between May 13th – May 19th 2019. This is a fantastic opportunity for institutions to organize special events online and/or offline in order to engage their visitors in fun and educational cultural experiences and activities.

The theme for this year’s sixth edition, and the fil rouge of the event, will be: #WomenInCulture, in order to celebrate the worldwide movement and the role of women in culture yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This means, that in addition to the daily hashtags, all cultural institutions are encouraged to share publications around the #WomenInCulture hashtag throughout the week. The remaining themes include: #SecretsMW (Tuesday, May 14th), #PlayMW (Wednesday, May 15th), #RainbowMW (Thursday, May 16th), #ExploreMW (Friday, May 17th), #PhotoMW (Saturday, May 18th) and #FriendsMW (Sunday, May 19th). If you want more info, you can check out the program on the #MuseumWeek website here .

In light of this year’s inspiring theme, CloudGuide will be creating a special #MuseumWeek profile available on our app throughout the week for all of our global users. Everyday users will have the chance to discover 7 guides based on the hashtag of the day and on the main theme for 2019; #WomenInCulture. The content itself, will be coming directly from institiutions in the CloudGuide community in order to encourage international visibility as well as offering more interest to their visitors.

We are looking forward to sharing this fantastic worldwide movement on CloudGuide’s social media accounts, where we’ll provide you lots of stories about empowering women in culture, art, innovation and so much more. 

Get ready, #MuseumWeek is on its way!



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