Open Eyes //

Black Stars

Directors, curators, historians and designers meet annually at changing venues for the museum meeting. At Essen's Ruhr Museum this year, everything revolves around the objects, as the stars of every exhibition. The stars of the Ruhr Museum, however, tend to appear black and full of coal dust.

The congress programme, on the other hand, is anything but dusty. No lecture can do without the changes brought about by digitalisation, which finally seems to be arriving on the museum scene. In view of this, the discussion about the role of the exhibits naturally plays a special role. A question that also occupies us at VISUELL: How can we meaningfully enhance exhibits with digital content? How can we create a synthesis of haptic and digital, instead of the too often seen either-or solutions?

The congress will be followed by a guided tour of the exhibition at the Ruhr Museum. The old coal shafts, winding towers and buildings are impressive in their sheer size and functional design alone. Insiders winkingly refer to the architect of these industrial buildings as Le Corbusier of the Ruhr Valley. The exhibition in the museum impresses with spectacularly staged tools and machines. In all rooms, the designers play with the high ceilings and dirty walls. Although the exhibits are located in their original environment - the coal shaft - they are torn out of it by the staging: tools float freely in the room, historical lamps form new installations and oil paintings of the so-called chimney barons adorn the rough walls. Through this staging, the worn tools become the black and dusty stars of the exhibition. Interactive exhibits, however, have so far been sought in vain in the Ruhr Museum. A hint from the congress organisers? And if so: in which direction?

A successful congress day ends with miners' studs. Organiser Uwe Strauch says goodbye to each of the participants personally. Despite changing trains twice on the way home, I go home happy and review the day as I write this article.