Digital transformation is one of the biggest challenges of our times. Computer technology now impacts every area of our lives. Museums can also harness its potential — if they play an active role in shaping it.
In parallel with the construction of the extension and in anticipation of its opening in 2021, the Kunsthaus Zürich therefore launched a project entitled ‘Digilab’ to explore the prospects for a digital and interconnected public through art and experimentation. Today, it is no longer enough for a museum merely to occupy a physical space: it also needs to pay professional attention to the digital universe and its many and varied audiences. The Kunsthaus Digilab aims to reflect on media technologies and the digital future and also to explore new avenues, expanding the classical exhibition space into the digital realm and reflecting its potential back onto reality. Artists have simultaneously a presence in the physical museum room and exhibit artworks there which stand or have been developed in direct connection with the new works for the digilab. Besides this future-oriented access we also look back in time: With its more than 100 years of history the Kunsthaus produced over 1000 exhibitions. In the ‘chronology’ an attempt is made to choose, examine, and analyze in a critical review from our contemporary perspective important and iconic exhibitions and to present them in their art historical context. All involved parties are creating a feedback loop between the domains of the virtual and the real.
Art in Digital Space
Many contemporary artists are interested in digital space and reflect in their works such themes as big data, surveillance or access to information. These important themes are also negotiated in the Kunsthaus Digilab, employing artworks especially conceived for the Digilab. In each case, these artworks can be experienced online for three months and are aimed at an art-interested public all around the world.
The selection of artists includes a mixture of well-known names in contemporary art and media art as well as young artists. The Kunsthaus Digilab explores the interface between digital and analog space. In parallel to the online presentation the artists also show works in a collection room of the Kunsthaus extension.
The Kunsthaus Zurich, which found its permanent site in the Moser-Bau at Heimplatz in 1910, can point to rich and innovative exhibition activities. The variety and quality of its more than 1000 exhibitions, whose character derives from the personal commitment of the participating artists, collectors, lenders and curators, give the Kunsthaus its unique face and thus its identity in the international art system. To realise these projects, which are largely and materially documented in the archive of the library, accessible to a larger public even in virtual space, all the exhibitions are listed. Beyond that, as a work-in-progress, the focus is on selected projects, on which light is cast. These targeted observations and evaluations from today’s point of view are to grow constantly.
For selecting the exhibitions for discussion, the following criteria apply:
- A balance of the exhibitions discussed between 1910 and the present
- Relevance in the biographies of the artists, for example, whether it is f.e. their first exhibition or the largest to that time
- Gender, equality and diversity
- Relevance to the Swiss museum landscape (first, largest exhibition in a museum)
For thematic exhibitions:
- Relevance, curiosity and/or boldness of the theme
- Relevance in art history or reception in the literature
- Media response, international transmission
- Attention to a variety of genres
- Number of visitors
- Balance in the frequency with which artists and curators are named
This chronology of the exhibition history is aimed both at an interested general public and at experts, who, can get a first impression here and extend their research on request.