Beyond Control: How Local Arts and Culture Communities in Helsinki are forming the next digital frontier of Storytelling and Heritage Conservation beyond the walls of the Museum

Samir Bhowmik, Finland

This paper examines the emergence, roles and initiatives of local arts and cultural communities in Helsinki that are shaping a new conception of the Museum, as one that is crafted, organized and maintained outside the traditional model of the Museum. One that deals with the living arts and culture of the city and engages in experimental methods and forms to both revive older community traditions and initiate discussions about the contemporary conditions and issues of society. This novel social engagement beyond the walls of public museums, is being made possible by the application of emerging digital technologies, the world wide web and the proliferation of social media. These arts communities and community-supported events are engaged in crowd-sourcing, open access knowledge, local technologies, gamification and extensive use of social networks. This new frontier stands in stark contrast to the ongoing controversy surrounding the building of the Guggenheim Museum, a massive mega-structured institution funded by the tax-payers and the city that threatens to overwhelm and control the cultural discourse of the city. Which direction is fruitful and sustainable to the long-term health of the communities of Helsinki? Is it the institutional one? Or, the “social-digital-distributed museum” that originates from the current state of arts and heritage and sustained by local communities and neighborhoods? An answer can only be found by examining this network of experimental arts, digital culture and heritage communities in Helsinki that challenge the notion of a physical museum as an enduring urban landmark.

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