The National Museum of Estonia (ENM), in collaboration with the creative agency Home Data Broadcasters as a member of Me-Mind project, recently closed its doors on the Fascination of numbers exposure. In addition to challenging, celebrating and promoting better practices in impact data collection, the expo itself served as a data collection opportunity. We asked Pille Runnel, Research Director and Deputy Director (National Museum of Estonia), and Me-Mind Project Manager Marzia Cerrai (Fondazione Sistema Toscana) to tell us about what they learned and their advice for other heritage institutions wishing to integrate impact and data collection into their exhibitions.
Thanks for talking to us today! Can you tell us about the “Number Fascination” exhibition and how you collected data there?
Through the Me-Mind project and the “Number Fascination” exhibition, we wanted to measure and visualize the impact of culture. We explored and explained how measuring and counting evolved historically and how contemporary society has become a “data-driven society” that relies heavily on numbers and data analysis. While the exhibition showed how data is linked to digital, our interactive objects were analog and hands-on, ranging from playfully interacting with worksheets to collectively creating a wall of colored threads. We made observations and obtained additional information about the types of visitors who attended the exhibition and how they preferred to consume the culture (for example, events, books or films).
What did you want to achieve with the exhibition?
The National Museum of Estonia is actively involved in research and learning projects. The Me-Mind project has helped us advance the way we collect and use data, not only for our internal decision making and capacity building, but also for how we communicate, interact and learn from our audiences. . Our participation in Impact museums (ME) has also been part of this journey, helping us to think about impact from an organizational self-development and self-assessment perspective.
We are still learning to put in place a richer framework of indicators that could help us manage the museum in a different way. Doing an exhibition on measuring and counting, including how contemporary society is “datafized”, and asking visitors to participate in data collection was an intervention in this status quo, emphasizing that data does not belong only to management.