The Internet is not just a constantly growing global store of knowledge, but also a leading medium in an all-embracing social change: any kind of information can be accessed anytime and anywhere, anyone can communicate constantly and internationally with others and be networked with interest groups. This change has fundamentally altered the self-understanding, and correspondingly the tasks, of museums.
Museums and digital change
In former times, the task of a museum was to collect important cultural objects, preserve them in storage, examine them scientifically and present them in exhibitions. Today, museums face the challenge of asserting themselves in society as major memory institutions by presenting their knowledge of the cultural objects they collect on the Internet and sharing it with their visitors. The digital change thus involves a profound social change and a culture of participation, evident in constantly evolving forms of communication and the growing importance of participation and networking in and by museums.
A digital strategy based on three pillars
Our digital strategy has been developed in the framework of the museum’s renewal process and is medium-term in scope. It involves three pillars scheduled to be realized successively:
The first pillar of our digital strategy encompasses online communication and information about all the museum’s activities. It is structured towards specific target-groups and uses different platforms and channels. A special emphasis is placed on social media communication, which was successively broadened in the years 2016/17. The team at the Jewish Museum is pursuing an integrative social-media strategy guided by the online editor and supported by colleagues from the education and communication, collection and exhibitions sectors. The launch of the new website in September 2018 constitutes a particular milestone in the implementation of all the projects related to this pillar.
The second pillar of our digital strategy is a component of the museum’s cultural-educational work and facilitates new connections between museum visit and Internet. It expands the museum’s educational mission by the addition of digital offers that visitors can use both in the museum and at home. This applies to the social media channels, which we also see as instruments of education. On the other hand, we are constantly developing online exhibitions on platforms such as Google Arts & Culture which present individual objects from the Museum Judengasse or the history of the Frank Family.
A special feature of this second pillar and of the museum’s educational offer is the specified target groups. Alongside online offers on the museum website and other online platforms for persons with a general interest in Jewish history and culture, special applications for children, adolescents and families, resp. school classes, are being development, such as, for example, the App entitled "Invisible Places" launched in spring 2018. The projects related to this second pillar are medium-term in scope and the opening of the new permanent exhibition in Rothschild Palais represents a particular milestone.
The third pillar of our digital strategy underscores the museum’s research activities and makes them accessible to an international public. This involves the digitization of a large part of the collection of the Jewish Museum and its dissemination on the museum website and other online platforms like the Deutsche Digital Bibliothek, as well as online access to already existing databases about the history of Frankfurt’s Jews.
The aim of these projects is to ensure that the knowledge the museum acquires about the cultural items in the collection and the history of Frankfurt Jews is made available to and shared with an interested public – in particular, scientists, students, teachers and school pupils – in the form of digital copies, metadata and descriptive texts. The projects in this pillar are long-term in scope and considered to be the essence of our digital strategy. With this, the museum presents itself as a formative public internationally accessible competence centre regarding the exploration of Frankfurt’s Jewish history.