The Weltkulturen Museum (Museum of World Cultures) in Frankfurt has a magnificent and extensive collection of ethnographic objects. The vast majority of it is hidden away in their secure vault. We have made it our mission to bring these objects to light and into the center of interest for the widest possible circle of people interested in culture.
We have developed and set up an entirely new kind of museum platform: The Weltkulturen Open Lab, a system which serves as an extended digital museum. Contemporary artists, designers, and scientists are all invited to explore the museum's collection and gain inspiration from the museum’s objects while they develop new projects. This open access provides the opportunity for networking and knowledge-sharing among the various parties, from a distance, without regard to professional or national boundaries and allows for global, decentralized development of new works. Thus the collection pieces can be used, world-wide, as design prototypes; many of the pieces are not only of historical interest, but also have untapped potential for future innovations. The new “Web 2.0” online technologies we have used help drive the collaborative nature of the Weltkulturen Open Lab, making it possible to document the process of an emerging concept through the inclusion of images, audio, and video files and share this process with the global public. Visitors can watch the live processes, comment on them, and become producers, themselves. With the new community features, the Open Lab goes far beyond the limits previously available in the online archives, databases, and platforms used by museums. An interactive, graphical user interface ensures intuitive and easy operation of the virtual laboratory. You can experience the Weltkulturen Open Lab, too: www.weltkulturen-openlab.com.