On the initiative of the Universalmuseum Joanneum, several medium-sized European Museums of Art have formed a cooperation network. This collaboration is intended to strengthen the roles and positions of the participating museums, each of which represents a very specific European form of practice in the arts.
Closer cooperation between medium-sized European museums of modern and contemporary art that operate away from the big urban centres is an important source of development and high-quality results. In 2011 and 2012 this belief took shape when the museum directors met in Graz, Lodz and Brno. Within the framework of the network Translocal, these museums of art collaborated and exchanged know-how for attaining mutual goals. At the moment there are seven partner institutions: besides the Universalmuseums Joanneum, there are the Moravskį galerie v Brünn (CZ), the Muzeum Sztuki (Lodz, PL), the Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (Vaduz), the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the Kumu Art Museum (Tallinn, EE) and the muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb (HR), all working together on this joint vision. All European museums that see themselves in a similar position are invited to join this network.
These museums preserve and research specific, local and global aspects of the creation, communication and reception of applied arts, in forms that are special and unique in their applications. With their collections, these museums can show the development of modern and contemporary art at the international level, even if their range – when the museums are considered individually – may not be large because their collections primarily represent local and national developments, although on a large scale and at an internationally competitive level.
The Translocal network uses this geographical and cultural diversity to develop cooperation in the form of joint activities far removed from competition, supremacy and diverging values. The following goals are the focal points of the cooperation:
To share knowledge and experience: the network facilitates the exchange of knowledge by sharing individual and local methods and procedures with the partner institutions; in addition, it should be possible to publicly exhibit subjects that have been worked on by Translocal: presenting the participating museums as the active producers of knowledge.
Joint exhibitions, scientific research and educational activities: collaboration and the pooling of expertise raise the quality, effectiveness and competitiveness of the institutions involved and also help them to take part in larger projects that offer greater financial support.
To promote innovation and future visions concerning culture: the aim is for the museum as an institution to maintain its role as a catalyst of cultural changes and developments. Translocation thus sees itself as a platform of innovative and visionary initiatives that can be realized by the participating institutions.
Reflections on the role of the museum in maintaining its mission towards the wider public: due to rapidly changing economic, social and cultural circumstances, museums need to redefine their role in regard to the democratic public. To that end, new strategies in the form of partial or complete public debates, panels and symposia within the network are to be developed.
To create awareness regarding museum-related politics, organization and financing: the network will (co-) organize the exchange of structural information. This should also help create lobbying strategies for proper legislative and financial development and influence political decisions that determine the future of the participating institutions.
Joint communication, advertising and marketing: one goal that goes beyond the wider communication of all activities of the participating institutions will be to create awareness about these European mid-sized museums and their specific collections.
The goals were recorded in a memorandum created and signed on 10 October 2012 by the initiators of the network. Moreover, a task schedule has been created including future goals and some dates for further meetings.
Under the name Translocal Collections, a programme has been initiated for the mobility of curators and collections, allowing for comparison and therefore better understanding of the context and identity of the various museum collections. The organization and implementation of this mobility project, ranging from curators visiting museums to financing and negotiations concerning the exchange of collections and joint publications, will continue and be completed by 2014.
The Creative Europe Programme is funding the two-year project “Translocal: Museum as Toolbox” (2015–2017), which is centred round the concept of opening the museum up to new target audiences, in particular to young people 15–25 years of age. The official home page of the project is http://www.museumastoolbox.eu/.
Translocal info (pdf)