Jehanne Zaki takes us to “We Are Museums” event in Marrakech

I arrived in Marrakesh on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I was there to present the MuseomixKid’s concept, and it was my first We Are Museums event. On the first night, I attended the welcome drinks at the Movenpick hotel, with no real expectations. I was amazed at what I discovered: Contemporary art meets Moroccan culture in a harmonious and vibrant blend. Every night the amazing We Are Museums team brought us to great places and museums which I could have never discovered on my own. It felt like a version 4.0 tale of the Arabian Nights.

During the day, I discovered fascinating speakers and lovers of Museums from around the world. We are from a different culture but actually we all have the same concerns and wishes about reconnecting a public that has long forgotten about museums with them. To do this, Museums engage more and more with their public, through social media and technology but most of all by taking museums outside of their walls and connecting directly with the public.

Talks at WAM18

Some have created virtual experiences, others exhibit in public libraries and there was even a museum which had created an installation in a supermarket.  All have given the visitors the possibility to interact with the Museums and not only to be a spectator. Since 2012, Museomix has connected people with museums outside traditional settings, and instead using technology and creative thinking to refresh the museum concept.

Museums are also increasingly connected with kids. The Louvre has created a small model of its exhibition for kids to play with. Through this experience, they learn about exhibition design and curation, and these concepts featured prominently at the MuseomixKids experience at the Muda last year.

Museomix Kids workshop

On the last day of We Are Museum, we could choose a route through the city to have a final experience in Marrakech. I choose “route 4”, which was the most relevant for Museomix and myself: TECH LOVES CULTURE. Other people visited the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum or Galleries.

Why did I choose “route 4” ? To co-create with local cultural actors.

In the morning, after a yoga session, we learned about Shoutr Labs & Marocopedia, local startups in Marrakech and how they were trying to create innovative models for exhibitions. Eric Asmar, the workshop leader studied in Geneva but has oriental connections. With his Moroccan fiancé, they decided to relocate to Marrakech and support young creative entrepreneurs to effect change within their communities and through their work.

After the presentation, we brainstormed about technologies and culture, with post-it and whiteboards, we developed ideas on what we could do to bring more people to museums and how to convince Moroccan authorities to raise visibility of Culture.

Teamwork and brainstorming at WAM18

We ate a tasty lunch of local delicacies (Tajin), and then split into two groups. My group was composed of two Italians from the sales team of a large construction agency, a French girl from the culture department, an AR / VR specialist, a German girl from an avant-garde gallery in Berlin and most importantly, a representative from Le Musée Boucharouite, the carpet Museum of Marrakech, whom we were to help with his new exhibition. We were a very diverse team with a broad variety of complementary strengths, and we were able to support each other’s weaknesses. 

We brainstormed for about an hour on ideas on how to launch the new exhibition of the Boucharouite Museum, how to communicate the concept, how to get more people interested and how to finalize the design of the exhibition so that it was more interactive. We called our project: “The Magic Carpet”.

The Magic Carpet

The teams had diverse approaches, but the common theme was the active participation of the public. Captions of people making the carpet, people all over Morocco showing their carpet through social media, an “enhance your carpet workshop” in diverse vendors place in Marrakech to form a giant magic carpet at the end, small carpet machine for visitors and kids … Ideas were popping out like crazy and we even managed to prepare the presentation of our project, a role-play with carpet that we drew ourselves, the first workshop ;).

The representative of the Boucharouite Museum was overjoyed to interact and be inspired by the group.

This experience was amazing. In a very short period of time, with people from around the world that I did not know a few hours before, we managed to do a live presentation of our project which I think was a very good start. It totally reminded me of the Museomix spirit.

We might even have the opportunity to continue the project, as We Are Museums would help to find funding to implement the project later this year. Shoutr Labs was quite interested in MuseomixKids, and who knows, the next one might take place in Marrakech!

Jehanne Zaki

Jehanne Zaki was event coordinator for Museomix CH in Nyon museums in 2016.
In 2017 she imagined the first MuseomixKids and co-organised it with Muda museum in Zürich.