International Museum Day: Collections to Covet

Post by Aimee, Information Services staff

May is Museum month. Although we can’t recommend visiting local museums due to closures, this may be your chance to explore your bucket list of cultural- heritage sites. Museums all over the world have adapted to life online by organizing a variety of innovative interactions. You can go on virtual tours of physical spaces and exhibits (many in 3D), listen to curatorial talks, join online programs, and view digitized collections. 

In honour of Museum Day, we want to highlight a trend in online collection access that goes against the stuffy, guarded, traditional view of museum holdings. Instead of limiting access to a privileged few, for specific purposes, museums are opening up access to collections and encouraging re-use through Creative Commons and public domain rights. This blends pop culture with traditional high art allowing more people to learn about and engage with digital collections. Museums, art galleries, archives, and libraries encourage you to re-use, remix, and re-envision their collections in creative ways.  

We have curated our top 10 digital collection remixes. See examples of how other people have used museum collections, get inspired, then make something new. Some of our staff have shared their creations. As Picasso once said: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

Top 10 Open Access Museum Collections

  1. Make & Do from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK

The V&A has a round up of DIYs inspired by their collections. There are instructions to sew a Mary Quant dress, knit an ‘Off Duty’ Jumper, make a paper peep show and code your own video game. KPL staff Aimee will be knitting a 1940s victory jumper.

  1. Rijksstudio from the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, NL

The Rijks Museum has encouraged people to reuse their digital collections since 2013. They have hosted a contest for the best use of their modified collections called “Make Your Own Masterpiece”. 

  1. LC LABS from the Library of Congress in Washington, USA

Citizen DJ is a tool available through the Library of Congress which makes free sounds more accessible. You can appropriate sounds from the time of Thomas Edison. 

  1. Learning at Home from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto, CAN

Explore Contemporary art through imitation. Understand the artistic process by replicating techniques used by influential Canadian artists. 

  1. Wartime Posters from the Toronto Public Library in Toronto , CAN

TPL archives have challenged people to remix their collection of wartime posters for a pandemic era. KPL Staff Ellie directed this music video by Nick Storring (My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell) which features images from TPL’s galleries.

  1. Open Access Remix from the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, USA

The Smithsonian has put together an Open Access Remixes page. Play around with some Tinkercad designs of dinosaurs, or see how 3D models can be used in sculpture. KPL Staff Kathryn was inspired to create a cross stitch design using their pinwheel quilt pattern from the early 1800s.

  1. Explore Art from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, USA

You may have seen the hashtags #GettyMuseumChallenge or #BetweenArtAndQuarantine on Instagram. The Getty Museum challenges you to participate in a unique art history project by recreating famous works of art at home with props (and people) that you have on hand. 

  1. Isolating Together from the Museum of Vancouver in Vancouver, CAN

The Museum of Vancouver wants to archive your experiences of quarantine. Follow #IsolatingTogetherMOV or submit directly to MOV. They are looking for video, audio, and images of how you are adapting and thriving in this environment. 

  1. Open Access from the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, USA

The Cleveland Museum of Art has offered Creative Commons Zero designation for over 30,000 high quality images in their collection. They invite you to make them your own. 

  1. #GlenbowFromHome from Glenbow in Calgary, CAN

Learn about photography and composition with inspiration by Vivian Maier or join their street photography challenge.

Further inspiration:

Honourable Mentions

Other Resources

Need a library card? Get a digital card here. Looking for more information or recommendations? Send us a request or email us: askkpl@org . Connect with us on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.

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