Culture Labs at Internet Festival 2019 - Our video collection

Did you miss the CultureLabs event at Internet Festival 2019? Would you like to explore more the key-concept of social innovation, participatory approach and co-design?

There is good news! You can relive the best moments in our video collection, the contribution of the speakers is now on our Youtube channel. Subscribe here.



A good opportunity to talk with chefs!

In collaboration with Internet Festival – Shaping Future, CultureLabs organises the event entitled Labs of Cultures. Processes, strategies and good practices for the challenges of contemporary society.

It will be an occasion to listen to the voices of some social innovators, actually our Chefs (both Italian and foreign), who every day implement models, strategies and techniques, with which they respond to concrete needs of a community and promote its social development.
It will be a good opportunity to learn about international examples in which digital innovation is at the service of social innovation, and participatory approaches trigger effective paths of inclusion.

Why at Internet Festival?

Internet Festival is the most important Italian event devoted to digital innovation. Since 2012 it has addressed a large and heterogeneous audience, introducing the most recent and interesting technological results, and showing how the digital innovation impacts diverse areas of our life: from culture to health, from school to economy, from music to food…

The event of Saturday 12 of October will be the occasion to explore how digital innovation serves social innovation. After the introduction of the day and the greetings from Tuscany Region, Victoria Barnett and Wesley Taylor will bring the experience of Design Justice, an international network, born in the United States, which has been involved for many years, striving to create design practices that center those who stand to be most adversely impacted by design decisions in design processes, such as: indigenous peoples, communities of color, poor and working-class people, the sick and disabled, migrants, LGBTQ people, women and femmes.

Then, Mario Tronco will talk about the Piazza Vittorio Orchestra, a project born in 2002 and driven by artists, intellectuals and cultural operators who revived through the music the Piazza dell’Esquilino, namely the multi-ethnic district of Rome. Piazza Vittorio Orchestra is a multiethnic orchestra that has been able to enhance the cultural richness of a degraded district using music as an effective glue. Since 2002 the Orchestra has represented a successful example that mixes musical languages, being aware that mixing cultures produces beauty.

Then, it will be the turn of Nadia Pantidi. She is a lecturer at the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork (UCC) and a member of the People and Technology Research Group. Her research spans the areas of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Design and Psychology with a particular focus evaluating and designing interventions and technologies that are sensitive to values, practices and experiences of end-users. Nadia will explain how digital technologies and services can support new forms of community engagement.
Labs of Cultures will be also the occasion to present the latest progress of the CultureLabs digital platform and launch the upcoming pilots starting in October, in Italy, UK and Finland.

The public attending the event will be allowed to interact with the guests, stimulate reflections using the Mentimeter app.

Here the detailed programme of the event

15.00 – Welcome greetings – Roberto Ferrari (Tuscany Region)
15.15 – CultureLabs. Digital technologies and cultural heritage at the service of social inclusion – Eirini Kaldeli (CultureLabs)
15.45 – Links, connections and differences between CultureLabs and other best practices and projects
15.55 – Design Justice Network – Victoria Barnett and Wesley Taylor (Design Justice)
16.35 – The Piazza Vittorio Orchestra – Mario Tronco (Piazza Vittoria Orchestra)
17.05 – Digital Futures For, With, By the People – Nadia Pantidi (UCC)
17.25 – Final discussion / Q&A – with the journalist Claudia Fusani

Further information on:

ABF collaboration

What is ABF?

ABF is Sweden’s largest adult liberal education association, whose activities promote democracy, justice and equality. ABF’s organization works comprehensively in the fields of culture, integration, health, politics, international studies and disabled issues. It has 100 years of experience in liberal adult education with different target groups and a wide range of topics, and is open to share experiences with organizations in other countries.

What was our role? (COOSS partner)

A delegation of 4 ABF Swedish professionals was hosted in Ancona for a 3-day study visit, aimed at presenting COOSS services and approaches for the integration of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
The CultureLabs project was presented and ABF guaranteed its collaboration to the needs analysis and recipes collection.

Common issues with CultureLabs

ABF is engaged in activities near to CultureLabs interests and objectives, among which:

  • Integrating migrants and refugees: cities are places where integration happens, as they offer great opportunities for migrants and non-migrants to interact, but they are also faced with challenges regarding integration and inclusion. For the last three years, ABF has been working together with the national government and the civil society organizations to develop ideas and concrete actions to support the integration of refugees and other migrants.
  • Fighting marginalization: Europe is home to groups of people that regularly encounter severe discrimination and prejudice, among which immigrant communities. As well as offering education and training opportunities, ABF helps to break down the multiple barriers they face to getting work and being part of everyday European society.
  • Promoting inclusive approaches: some groups in society face discrimination in finding work, as well as in the workplace. They include women, older workers, minorities, and immigrants, among others. To help such groups, and others, ABF promotes active inclusion measures which involve a series of steps to accompany them towards employment.

Further information from the COOSS voices video:

MUSEUM AS AN ASYLUM - social inclusion

Several museums in Finland have organised activities and participatory projects involving migrants or asylum seekers during the recent years. One of the biggest initiatives has been a project called “Museum as an Asylum” coordinated by the Helinä Rautavaara ethnographic museum based in Espoo, Finland.

Altogether 15 museums all around Finland partnered in the project between 2016 and 2018. The objective of the project was to provide activities for and improve the well-being of asylum seekers under 25 years old and their families. In the second stage migrant youth who were not asylum seekers were also involved. Almost 10.000 people took part in the project activities.


The museums organised guided tours in the museums, various types of arts, sports and creative workshops were organised, where the participants could make handicrafts and art works using different types of techniques. Several exhibitions and events were organised in collaboration with migrants.

Many museums planned and implemented activities based on the wishes of the participants. At Sagalunds Museum female participants made an initiative to organise a Syrian wedding themed party event, which became an effective way of reflecting the differences and similarities between the Syrian and Finnish cultures. Also Helinä Rautavaara museum has experience of several participatory projects related to annual festivals and lifecycle celebrations. The museum considers them to provide a fruitful context for projects, as they are occasions that bring people together while involving several social, cultural and religious facets that relate to key aspects of  cultures and their change in general.


Tampere museum collections, Cultural education unit TAITE and Postal Museum also implemented a project @Tampere#home? during 2016-2017, that involved photography with asylum seekers. The asylum seekers documented their everyday life, celebrations, people, nature and important moments, and a photographic exhibition “Not just a piece of paper” was created in a participatory manner in the end of the project. The participants considered it important that the museum was not pushing its own agenda in the project, but it involved genuine interaction and listening. The message of the exhibition was to maintain hope through encouraging to see the shared humanity. Humour was also an important aspect in bringing people together. It unites and helps to find joy in the midst of difficulties – it is a part of being a human.


Good practices for CultureLabs

In the Museum as Asylum project what was planned in many cases differed from what was realised. Working with asylum seekers requires flexibility and readiness to constantly assess the needs of the participants and to change plans as the project progresses. Understanding and flexibility from the side of the funding organisation is appreciated in these situations. When the number of the participants at the museums was low, the reasons were examined and solutions such as change of timing or increased collaboration with the staff of the reception centres were sought after. The museum staff also organised activities in the reception centres. New collaborators such as schools and NGOs were contacted as the project evolved. Some asylum seekers were also employed as guides and in other roles during the project.

The cooperation between the museums and NGOs were seen as fruitful, as the museums could provide their contents and pedagogical expertise while the NGOs had experience of handling relevant social issues or discussing with the families of underaged participants. Museums were seen as a good collaborators, as they were considered neutral.


Several museums developed visual tools to facilitate communication. For example emojis are well-known symbols globally and young people use them a lot, as was discovered by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova. Technology can be used creatively, like the participants at Aine Art Museum, who created videos using the photos saved on their phones or the participants of an art workshop at Serlachius Museums, who explained contexts and meanings of their paintings by showing photos of their home countries from their phones.


When organising art workshops with migrants, it is important to bear in mind that ideas and conceptions of art vary in different cultures, as Helsinki Art Museum pointed out after the project.  All in all, the museum exhibitions were seen to provide constructive contexts and places for intercultural dialogue. The project coordinator Riika Huitti-Malka writes about the meaning of culture to people: “in the most difficult situations, culture may be the only thing that people have left. A visit to the museum can save the day, or even the whole life”.


The publication of the Museum as an Asylum project (in Finnish) will be added as an ingredient on the CultureLabs platform. You can download the publication through this link:


Talking with the chef: Merel van der Vaart (Stedelijk Museum)

Talking with Merel van der Vaart – City History Curator at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam

Merel van der Vaart (City History Curator at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, The Netherlands) is the second guest of the new column “Talking with the chef“, following the launch with Eike Schmidt.

CultureLabs investigated what is the role of a city history curator and her recipes about social and cultural innovation.

“My job is to work with historic collections but also to meet people in the city and find out the histories they would like to see represented“.

In the last two years the museum has decided to focus more of being a museum of people of Schiedam embracing a more participatory approach, working more on the historic collection and working with lots of partners.

This journey started with an exhibition about banners to the recently open “Post/delete”, a project started by two seventeen-years-old students from a local high school that could not assume the museum said yes to a body and selfie images exhibition.

What are the advices to work with a participatory approach? Be very open in your communication, be very open in your expectation, and mind the languange you are using because it could not have meanings outside the museums.

Follow this and much more in our conversation with Merel van der Vaart!


Giornata Mondiale del Rifugiato 2019 - COOSS

For the “WorldRefugeeDay”, COOSS – one of the partner of CultureLabs – organised three free events that took place on 19, 20 and 21 June in Camerano, Falconara and Jesi thanks to the support of other cooperatives working with and for migrants, Associazione ATGP and Municipality of Jesi.

During these days, workshops, photographic exhibitions, football tournaments and show events were organized to bring together local people (adults and children) and migrants. Moreover, Camerano held the Human Library where the migrant guests were able to tell their life stories to the citizens.

What is the contribution for the CultureLabs project?

  • Promoting awareness of the meeting and reception of migrants;
  • Creating bridges between communities by giving local citizens and migrants the opportunity to cooperate together in the proposed activities;
  • Direct participation of migrants in the community, as they are the tellers of their stories, which they offer to whoever wants to listen to them;
  • Co-creation example, as the original stories where proposed by migrants but elaborated and
    refined in collaboration with the artist in charge of the event.



CultureLabs at Communities & Technologies 2019 - Wien

In June 2019, Danilo Giglitto, postdoctoral researcher at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), presented a paper called “Bridging cultural heritage and communities through digital technologies at the 9th International Conference on Communities & Technologies – Transforming Communities held at the Vienna University of Technology.


The theme of this edition of the conference was “Transforming Communities”. The conference encouraged submissions around the role of technology and technology design in the “making” of communities. Around 100 people from academia and industry attended the conference.


The paper – which was co-authored by Danilo Giglitto, Luigina Ciolfi, Caroline Claisse, and Eleanor Lockley – was included in a thematic session called Heritage and Future. The talk given by Danilo focused on the role that technology can have in facilitating the participation of communities at risk of exclusion (in particular migrant and refugee communities) in cultural and heritage related activities. The draws from the research led by SHU aimed at gathering the functional requirements of the CultureLabs platform from the perspective of people involved in the cultural heritage sector as well as people working with migrant groups in a variety of participatory settings.


The highlight of the talk was the presentation of key findings of the research, which revolved around the use of digital communication tools to tackle the barriers to participation in cultural heritage engagement projects, the implementation of a centralised digital platform to improve collaboration across entities and sharing best practices, and the characteristics that any technology should have to bridge cultural distances in participatory processes.


The presentation was followed by a very brief Q&A sessions, during which Danilo had the chance to discuss with members of the audience, including the extent of the ambition behind CultureLabs as a platform, the different perceptions around cultural heritage and its safeguarding by different communities of participants, and the potentially different conceptualizations of ‘co-design’ among the partners of the projects.


The paper has been published on the ACM Digital Library as part of the conference proceedings.

Dimmi Multimedia Migrant Diaries

What is DIMMI?

DIMMI “Multimedia Migrant Diaries” is an annual national competition organised by the National Diaries Archive, supported by the Tuscany Region, aiming to raise awareness and involve citizens on the issues of peace, memory and intercultural dialogue through the collection and the dissemination of stories of people with foreign origins (or background) that are living in Italy and in the Republic of San Marino. The winning stories are announced during the annual event on human rights “Premio Pieve Saverio Tutino” and published by a national publishing house.


Specifically, DIMMI intends to achieve two main purposes: to bring together and preserve a cultural heritage that risks to be lost; fight the stereotypes about migration through the collection of voices or experiences of people that lived those stereotypes (or are living it).

DIMMI is also part of a broad framework of activities realised by “Stories Of Migrants” project, carried out by the National Diaries Archive and co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Tuscany Region.


How does it work ?

As DIMMI wants to involve as many people as possible, according to the parameters of the Competition, it accepts and contemplates a wide range of materials allowing foreign people to narrate their own experiences and real life stories. The materials admitted are:

  • drawing and graphic arts
  • a video
  • a written story
  • an audio file
  • photos
  • e-mail and postcards


Moreover, it is possible to combine this parameters producing a “composite narration”, mixing materials such as: writing a story and enriching it with pictures or drawings, or sending audio files attaching photos of some significant passages of the autobiography.


What matters is that materials produced are authentics stories, without corrections and changes, and realised in italian language (if produced in a foreign language it is necessary to attach an italian translation). For this reason a Scientific Committee examine the autobiographies, verifying their authenticity, admitting the first 150 stories received.

However, the other works excluded from the Competition 2019 will be stored in the National Diaries Archives.

In any case, peoples can download a participation form and guidelines from the project website.


What can CultureLabs learn from DIMMI?

DIMMI represents a significant and remarkable multimedia storytelling initiative combining a bottom-up and a participatory approach with the urgence to “rescue” and preserve the historical memory of foreign people.


In this case the collection of the material is not a simple “data transposition process” but a preservation of the lives and experiences that otherwise would have to be forgotten and lost.

In the age of “fluidity” and “frenzy”, being able to preserve these small but important pieces of life is a relevant means to promote integration and build a collective memory.

The added value of DIMMI is represented by the authentic and unique personal experiences that goes beyond the mainstream narrative and seeks to highlight the unique element of each life.


CultureLabs can take inspiration from some remarkable features of DIMMI project, especially from:

  • the focus on the effective personal experience through the production of a story through conventional and unconventional tools (also with digital and multimedia tools)
  • the user-centered approach: DIMMI collects authentic and strictly personal stories that have never been published before. Thus, the “subjective” element is preponderant and therefore the stories must be strictly autobiographical (i.e. referring to themselves)
  • the involvement of a large number of national and international stakeholders: from cultural heritage institutions to NGOs, from social cooperatives to public administrations, from archives and libraries to civil society organizations
  • the possibility of bringing people closer to cultural institutions and CH by creating a real community that promotes integration and social inclusion
  • Respect for the different point of view, which is one of the main aspects of participatory


DIMMI is one of the many projects that CultureLabs wants to bear in mind for the development of its project and future initiatives: user centred approaches, multimedia storytelling, interaction between people of foreign origins and a wide range of stakeholders are the characteristics that we want to carry forward for CultureLabs.


We welcome all your feedback, ideas and involvement in any aspect of our project.

CultureLabs was back in Sheffield!

On 22nd and 23th of May 2019, a new meeting of the CultureLabs consortium has taken place in Sheffield (UK), hosted by the Sheffield Hallam University, one of the partners of the project.

Besides the periodic appointment to monitor the state of the art of the project, the results achieved and the new steps to take, the meeting in Sheffield was a crucial occasion to analyse our four pilots with the help of external stakeholders that cared about actively discussing our methodologies and progress. We invited representatives of cultural institutions, NGOs, civil society organisations, to work with us adopting the Wotify methodology, under the direction of Platoniq.

It was fundamental to compare their strategies and approaches with ours and receive their hints, recommendations that help us to enhance elements of strength and identify possible risks to overcome.

So, special thanks to:

Ronan Brindley – Manchester Art Gallery

Anne Louise Kershaw – HOME – Centre for contemporary theatre, film, art, music

Rachel Drew – Migration, Refugee and the University Group at Sheffield Hallam University

Nick Roscoe – Bishops’ House

Karen Hough – CENTRIC Sheffield Hallam University

Fidel Budy  – CENTRIC Sheffield Hallam University

Ghazaleh Oshaghi – ORAMMA project

During the second day of the meeting, the consortium actively worked on the value chain analysis and how to lay the ground to measure the efficiency and the impact of future recipes. A very fruitful discussion on how to establish a value chain analysis, which matches the needs of stakeholders of the CultureLabs to concrete innovative participatory approaches to social innovations through culture!

This is a just started process, but which has already proved to be a very interesting challenge!

Video interviews with people involved at the Sheffield workshop are coming soon! For further information about Culture Labs project progresses keep following our Magazine section!

Talking with the chef: Eike Schmidt (Uffizi Galleries)

Talking with Eike Schmidt – Director of the Uffizi Galleries

Eike Schmidt (Director of the Uffizi Galleries) is the first guest of our new column “Talking with the chef” where CultureLabs meets big players and professionals to know their recipes about social and cultural innovation.

We start with a very special guest: the Director of the Uffizi Galleries, one of the main cultural istitutions worldwide, based in Florence cradle of the Renaissance and one of the most important collections about humanistic culture.


For this, the Uffizi Galleries have a long history about user-centered approach. This has now become an international trend, but in the Uffizi it dates back to the 1950s but nowadays there are such huge opportunities that did not exist before. And this is not related to the new technologies only.

Eike Schmidt explains how an international museum such Uffizi Galleries deal with new audiences and new challenges, keeping the human element at the centre. “For instance, digitally speaking VR is certainly interesting but what is really excting is the AR because we can focus on what we do already have“.

Again, it’s not only about technologies but also about human interaction is fundamental, we founded a department of accessibility and cultural mediation which offered almost 200 hundreds of special tours, or actually, workshops. This is increasing, in fact it is a very important part of our strategy“.

This newly funded department aimed at fully integrating new audiences: “every visitor is different from each other and we can not have even today a clean group in our minds that studied art and have a university degree. This is not our audience anymore“.


In order to avoid that the Uffizi one of the greatest museums in the world is downgraded to a simple attraction is truly important to open up and to think to the variety of approaches, a very wide range of potential approaches for people with different cultural, social, educational background“.

What is crucial even using technologies is always to keep the human element at the centre, important to build a platform not technology-driven, but driven by human needs, to exchange ideas and to learn.


So, the challenges are clear, what are the solutions implemented by the Uffizi Galleries? If you would discover it please see the interview here below.