April 9-12, 2008
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Demonstrations: Description

Teens Connect to Art and Each Other at Young Peoples Laboratories for Art:Statens Museum for Kunst embraces user-created content and social networking

Anne Tessing Skovbo Nielsen, Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark
Tine Nygaard, Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark
Ethan Wilde, Mediatrope, USA

Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), the Danish national gallery, wanted to use Web 2.0 technologies, social networking and user-contributed content to reach a teenage audience. In 2007 SMK launched a new art community designed for teens called u.l.k. (an abbreviation of the Danish for Young Peoples Laboratories for Art).

The heart of u.l.k. is a bilingual Web site ( that is available online and onsite at workstations in the museum’s new u.l.k. Art Labs. The site is designed around the concept of a knowledge bank. Everyone using u.l.k. (teenagers visiting with their school or on their own, teachers, museum staff and artists) can "withdraw" or add knowledge to the bank. The knowledge bank is built from content contributed by site users who create bank entries with their own text, images, artworks, audio, video and Flash animations. It includes art of all kinds: from medieval altarpieces and Rembrandt portraits to Björk music videos and animated films created by teens during workshops at the museum.

The knowledge bank entries alone provide a rich resource of user-created content. But the site also includes social networking tools that expand the user-created content from a passive resource to a true online and onsite community. Users create personal profiles, comment on and tag knowledge bank entries, select favorite entries, link to friends, send messages, and recommend entries to each other. Additional tools allow museum staff and educators to build timelines, galleries, and slideshows for teaching. The site also gives young audiences access to the museum's most recent research, encouraging them to challenge museum staff with their own contributions, opinions, and creative work.

u.l.k. opened in April 2007 with 20 staff-created entries in the knowledge bank. Since then the bank has filled with entries from teen users, art pilots, educators, museum staff and others, and not surprisingly, the site has taken on a life of its own.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - 2 [Demonstrations]

Keywords: Teenagers, social networking, Web 2.0, user-generated content, user-contributed content, constructivist learning