Open Studio–Design for participatory art in museums

Umeå Institute of Design United States


Concept / Student


Jiaojiao Xu


The digital age is all about expression and participation, but rarely does it happen in public institutions such as art museums. The intent of the project is to explore if new services, interactions and technology would democratize the structure of a public institution: if the creative expression from the audience would obtain attention in the institution from bottom-up and if this participation could be useful and relevant for the institution in return. In this context, the focus of “expression” is not only an individual behavior, but it starts to influence the community and challenges the mindset of art as an exclusive industry where nowadays the public has no say and comment about.

The final concept <open studio> challenges the widespread notion of authorization across most of the public institutions nowadays. It suggests a desirable direction for art museums in general to engage their audience, increases their enjoyment and encourages their creative expression by showcasing their handicrafts in a playful and democratized manner in the museum. It also offers a digital archive platform for art museums to keep track of the past programs and share the content with other art practitioners such as curators and artists, thus helping the museum to continue staying at the edge of the digital era.

One challenge in such a design space is to showcase public’s wisdom, creativity and expression that lives up to art museums’ expectation of both visual aesthetics and critical thinking. This is a huge barrier for art museums to adopt audience participation. The service uses 3D scan technology to align the visual language of the exhibition. And the notion of dropping a time capsule provokes articulation around the “de-materialization process” embedded in all physical artifacts: no matter how much conservation is done, the physical artifact will inevitably get aged, which is especially true and relevant in art industry. Hidden in the physical artifact, the dimension and experience of <time> can be easily demonstrated and played with in its digital duplication by rendering out the result of de-materialization in the years to come. This unique experience of a digital piece enhances the story of the static physical artifact and forms up a dynamic exhibition that unfolds as time passes by, which retains the visitors in the museum.


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