Culture Beyond Borders: How Technology Breathes Life into Multilingual Museum Showrooms

27th Apr 2021
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As we advance through the age of technology, art and culture is sometimes discarded in favour of the ‘next new thing’; however, what if tech innovation could open up the world of art? 

It may be hard to believe, but that combination of technology and art exists within the fabric of digital museum showrooms.

With the use of video technology, museum showrooms have gone online to display multilingual exhibitions and art pieces that work at bringing us all closer together; regardless of our borders and language.

Transcreation

Since we’re beginning to journey into the concept of connection beyond borders, first we must understand the definition of an aspect that lends itself to making that connection an easier transition. According to Smartling, transcreation is the process of adapting content from one language to another one while ensuring the meaning and tone stays the same.

This is a fundamental process for museums to introduce as it is their goal to convey emotion and depth through art. If museums achieve this level of multilingual inclusion, they can bridge the language and border gap that people have felt divided by. 

Cultural boundaries

Museums are the hub of art and culture - they’re a space for significant artefacts, defining art, and culturally crucial discussion to exist in. 

When museum showrooms welcome all and adapt to a multilingual format, everyone is included in understanding the meaning that art conveys. It’s this use of transcreation in museums that connects a wider audience to each other, even if that audience never meets or only views the exhibition online. To be able to understand the feelings and sentiments of another country’s history and experience is fundamental to crossing cultural boundaries.

Regardless of how we convey art - whether through digital museums or in the flesh - when we make understanding accessible, connection flourishes.

Original meaning and context

Often, when we’re taught about another country’s rich history and culture, it’s usually through a lens not authentic to that country’s origin.

This tension is reflected in the ongoing debate on whether British museums should return colonel artefacts back to their country of origin, where they might be better able to reflect their original context.

Unfortunately, when visiting a museum (digitally or not), it isn’t uncommon to learn a piece of history through artefacts that were taken from their native land and hear the story told through the viewpoint of a different country; many times the original country’s coloniser.    

Transcreation can enable us to somewhat bridge the gap between the stories we’re told and dig into what the original meaning may have been when looking at these colonised objects. It also enables museums in less well-visited parts of the world to tell their own stories in a way that connects with a global audience as they embrace digital technology.

Connection to art and each other

When we look at breaking down the borders between countries, an avenue that is often explored is the power of creativity and art.

Transcreation creates a bridge for creativity and culture to become a universal experience, when this is applied to art, we’re all able to feel a shared emotion.

Regardless of where you’re from, with the help of transcreation, art evokes a similar feeling within all of us; one we can all relate to and bond over. In the instance of museums, transcreation strengthens the multilingual aspect so many other businesses are trying to convey. 

This multilingual element allows people to connect to art and culture beyond the use of language; this is a connection that can be experienced regardless of whether the museum showroom viewing is digital or face-to-face. 

For further examples of transcreation used in media, have a read of this piece we published in our magazine.

While you’re reading that, consider, could your translations do with a more creative touch? Let us help. Get in touch today.

The Pre and Post 2020 World

Within the space of 10 years, we’ve witnessed the digital landscape transform radically. Regardless in what way it shifted, we have all been impacted one way or the other, and as such, so have our behaviours and patterns.

Then

In 2019, as reported by Statista, the number of global international tourist arrivals was approximately 1.46 billion people; it’s fair to say that travel and tourism was at an all-time high. 

And who can blame them? Travelling has become more accessible than ever before and has enabled people from diverse backgrounds to visit the countries of their dreams, learn stories about other cultures, and experience a sense of freedom.

Apart from taking holiday videos and snaps for our friends and family to see, the digital aspect of travelling was rather relaxed in a pre-2020 world. A concept such as digital museum showrooms had not yet matured as there wasn’t much urgency for them as there is in a post-2020 world, in pre-2020, we could physically visit the museums and bathe in the art; we could physically immerse ourselves within different cultures. 

Now

However, post-2020 was an incredibly different experience; neither are bad, just different. And given the circumstances of the pandemic, the difference is no surprise. 

COVID-19 is one of the most defining events to have happened in our lifetimes. As a result of the pandemic, technology-resistant sectors have been dragged into the digital age.

While we’re focusing on the progress of art and digital museums, which represents one of the most exciting and overdue adaptations to a COVID world, the effects have been felt across nearly all industries

During the pandemic, empty hotels have been offering ‘work from home’ packages for those who need more space, gyms and personal trainers have moved their entire business models online, and instead of leaving hundreds of flights empty, large airlines are switching to cargo-only flights.

The pandemic may have frozen our social lives, but the workforce muddled through.

Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates that 25-30% of the global “workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021”.

When you combine these figures with the fact that 4.66 billion people are online worldwide, it’s no reach to deduce that in post-2020, we’re finding connections through the digital sphere - and after the impact of COVID, many people have even grown accustomed to it.

As such, now more than ever, we’re open to digital connection: no need for borders, no need for language barriers, no need for geographical limitations.

Through the digital space, there’s nothing more holding us back from connecting to each other. So, if technology is what opens the door to each other, what’s stopping art being the concept that connects us?

How to Reap Cultural Benefits Digitally

Part of the joy of travel is to become immersed in the culture of another country, but you don’t need to jump on a plane to do that. Some of the richest pieces of history live within the country’s museums and, if you could revel in cultural artefacts, traditional stories, and journey to the community digitally, you would, wouldn’t you? 

Here is just a small collection of some of the multilingual museums that have taken part in this digital experience.  

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 

While lockdown and closures have paralysed many in the art community (and out of), the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is one of the few that have embraced the online realm by offering two digital options for viewers to enjoy.

Regardless of language, everyone can enjoy the immersive experience of walking through the museum in their partnership with Google. While for those who want to understand the feeling and emotion of each piece, Getty also offers detailed discussions in a few of their iconic pieces.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Affected by the pandemic, the Musee d’Orsay of France closed its doors while the majority of Europe stayed in lockdown. However, the magic of the museum can still be enjoyed; just through their online exhibition

View the museum’s range of modern art, oil paintings, and modern art all for free. Some such works you can enjoy are Self-Portrait by Van Gogh, Monet’s Poppy Field, and Bouguereau’s Dante and Virgile.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

For those with a penchant for Van Gogh, head to Amsterdam to view the museum in a revolutionary way.

Again, with the help of Google, the Van Gogh Museum is able to bring a range of exhibitions online, upload high-quality images for you to enjoy, as well as, offer an immersive experience through the museum – all for free.

MASP, São Paulo

Whether you want to revel in the mastery of The Resurrection of Christ or bathe in the beauty of Monet’s The Canoe on Epte.

MASP (The Museu de Arte de São Paulo) has embraced the digital realm and allowed for the connection of art to cross all geographical and language barriers. Interpret each piece the way it was intended with interactive features and online exhibitions.

Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

The largest museum in Mexico City, the Museo Nacional de Antropología covers almost 20 acres, with 23 exhibition rooms and gardens.

And you can view the majority of the collections online now – no lines, no language barriers, just you and the experience of art and culture.

KANAL - Centre Pompidou

For those who have a penchant for real-time experiences, KANAL – Centre Pompidou is ready to open its doors in 2022. 

A key spot for the city of Paris, Centre Pompidou, is being given the opportunity to gain new life in the Citroën building on the Place de l’Yser in Brussels.

Although KANAL – Centre Pompidou won’t be officially open until late 2022, it will become an art hub in its own right when Centre Pompidou, Paris closes for four years’ worth of renovations.

Summary

Take solace in the world being a click away, and revel in other countries’ art and museums without leaving your living room; you might find that your mental health and understanding of cultures thrive because of it. 

The world may be closed down, but culture and art are still open to you.

And remember, if your translations could do with a more creative touch, get in touch today.