The RICHES project is all about our society’s shifting relationship with culture. The goal? Bringing cultural heritage and people together in an ever-changing Europe and finding new ways of engaging with heritage in a digital world.
Practically, Waag Society thinks about how museums can present their collections in innovative ways in order to benefit all interested audiences and communities. They use co-creation to start the dialogue with them and come together to create great, new ideas.
The RICHES team began an interview series in which they ask several museums and team members from the project about their perspectives on co-creation within the heritage sector.
Merel van der Vaart has quite a bit of experience with co-creation: first at the science museum in London as an intern and now as a PhD Canditate at the Amsterdam School for Heritage and Memory studies. Currently, she’s working for the Allard Pierson Museum, the archaeology museum of the University of Amsterdam.
An interview about co-creation
Who are you and which museum do you work for?
My name is Merel van der Vaart and I work for the Allard Pierson Museum (University of Amsterdam)
What experience does your museum have with co-creation?
We use co-creation as a collaboration tool in one of the EU funded projects we are part of. It’s a way to help the various project partners with different skill sets work together.
How do you make sure that the results of the co-creation are integrated into the museum?
Everything we’ve made so far was a prototype, so couldn’t be permanently integrated into the museum. But, we hope to change this in the near future.
How would you like to use co-creation in the future?
I would love to run co-creation projects with various (new) audiences, introducing new voices and perspectives. This could be online, as part of an exhibition or projects/events beyond the museum walls.
When would you recommend using co-creation? When would you advise not using co-creation?
Are you truly interested in what others have to say about your collections? Are you willing to give them a stage and support them? Are you prepared to try new things and work outside your comfort zone? Go for it! Don’t do it if you don’t want to share control and ownership.
Are there any co-creation tips you’d like to share with other museums?
Plan to facilitate the process, instead of controlling it. Be open and honest about wishes, perspectives and challenges. Listen, learn and be flexible. Plan and adjust as you go. Give just enough freedom, but not too much. Be part of the team, but don’t lead unless they ask you to.
Keep updated about the outcomes of the co-creation process on the dedicated section of the RICHES website!