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The Museum of Tomorrow between analog and digital

The starting image around which we built the site and the Museum Switch project is that of the Museum of Tomorrow imagined in 1929 by the American architect Clarence Stein.

A project that, although never realized, has become an emblem of modernity and which in a moment of fervent international reflection on the role and functions of museum institutions, was an example of a lucid visual distribution of the different areas, collections and functions of the museum, organized to meet the needs of different types of audiences, from that of professionals to visitors looking for inspiration for the pleasure of aesthetic consultation of the works.

The ground-floor plan combined several earlier configurations of the museum. Eight wings were inscribed into an octagonal layout, radiating from a central information space. The model was the classic layout of central rotunda and Greek cross inscribed into a square of galleries.

The galleries contained contextual displays arranged in period rooms. Along the octagonal circumference ran the reserve galleries and study collections which served a specialist audience.

The same harmonious distribution of spaces, real and virtual, functions and methods of use of the Museum of Tomorrow is that which through digital resources museums can now recompose, in a middle ground between tradition and innovation which is the territory that Museum Switch is proposes to explore.

Around the suggestions, also graphic and typographic, of the twenties of the twentieth century, the entire graphic project and the concept of the logo developed, which was created by our travel companions of the XOcommunication.

Finally, an only apparent oxymoron is that of the Digital Workshop, as those who, like us, love working behind the scenes and among the gears of these wonderful and formidable machines that are museums, know well.

(Clarence Stein, Museum of Tomorrow plan, 1929.

Clarence Stein papers, #3600. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library)

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