100 #superpowers

A concise and unbiased commentary on a super-duper cultural hackathon that a bunch of audacious people ran in Bern last week.

A stage with a crowd of people standing in front

The coveted one hundred'th blog post. What topic better to dedicate it to, than Arts and the City? Two topics that have been at the forefront of my activities and writing in the past few years.

Led by a working group, consisting of the heads of Exhibition, Mediation and Programs from six institutions in the Museumsquartier Bern, the SUPERPOWERS! Cultural Hackathon was a highlight on the local agenda, and one I had been following with interest – with several friends involved in it directly. Expressing strong maker vibes and focusing on creative design, (much like the Sci-Art Jam that I participated in another location in town), the hackathon was described as follows on the website and FAQ:

The culture hackathon in the Museumsquartier Bern calls for creative ideas on how museums, educational and cultural institutions, libraries and archives can open up and change. From Thursday, 23 May to Saturday, 25 May 2024, interdisciplinary teams will tackle a specific challenge:
Develop creative cultural formats in an interdisciplinary team that use the superpowers of the institutions of the Museumsquartier Bern in a playful way to break new ground and bring people into dialogue together.
The project ideas can go in completely different directions: Interventions in public spaces, ideas for new approaches to the collection and discovery of 10 million objects across 11 institutions in the Museumsquartier Bern, various events and event formats, collaborations with people outside the world of culture and education, but also the experimental and unexpected.
The ideas of the winners will then be taken up by the institutions of the Museumsquartier Bern, and jointly pursued. It's worth coming along even if you're not hacking yourself! Look forward to a surprising supporting programme - good food and fine drinks - the public presentation of the resulting ideas including the award ceremony - a colourful party with a live concert by CRIMER - and the Bar der toten Tiere.

(translated with DeepL's help)

It also happens to be the first hackathon to have been posted on Hinto, a new and soon-to-be-Open platform aggregating Events Data. Itself an interesting project in support of our vibrant & digitalized cultural landscape.

SUPERPOWERS! der Kultur-Hackathon und Festival, 25.05.2024 08:00, Museum für Kommunikation, Bern
Beim Kultur-Hackathon im Museumsquartier Bern sind kreative Ideen gefragt, wie Museen, Bildungs- und Kulturinstitutionen, Bibliotheken und Archive sich öffnen und verändern können. Vom Donnerstag, 23. Mai bis Samstag, 25. Mai 2024 setzen sich interdisziplinäre Teams mit einer spezifischen Challenge…

See also:

Open Event Data Monitoring, May 2024 – Opendata.ch
Events play an important role in the public life of a society. Timely provision of accurate information about upcoming events to potential target audiences plays a key role in bringing people together for purposeful activities. Opendata.ch’s Open Event Data Working Group therefore works towards the…

At the conference of Opendata.ch in Fribourg the day before (my blog post is here), we discussed the intersection of art and hacking – especially in the context of the GLAMhack programs (more on that.. in another blog post!). I keenly joined the SUPERPOWERS! hackers the next day after the Forum.

View from the Bundeshaus on the Museumsquartier

It was a beautiful day out in Bern, and the Museumsquartier was absolutely buzzing by the time I got there. I saw many familiar faces, and was treated to drinks and an unbelievable vegan curry from Tängi. This did not in any way influence the objectivity of my report on the proceedings here (ha ha).

Such an amazing idea to have an outdoor venue for analogue presentations. Just look at this crowd!! OK, most people could not read the posters without binoculars, and I had to wonder how many just came for the concert - but still.. Some teams (shout-outs to Dorfplatz / Die????? and Myzel / Elastic spaces) made creative use of the whole venue, having their team members playfully interact with the audience on and off-stage.

In their urbanistic visions for the museum district, several of the teams proposed social media interventions, designed apps, made use of data on the daily ebb and flow of visitors – overlaid on the geography of the city.  I would like to mention a couple which particularly inspired me below. You can see the entire list with more details on the website, which the organizers put up ahead of the presentations for us to visit on our smartphones.

Kultur-Hackathon-Projekte | mqb.ch

School of Generosity

School of Generosity, Team: 4+5+1=10
In the School of Generosity, children from different neighbourhoods work together to create objects for challenges. Teams from the Museumsquartier Bern curate themed boxes with materials and provide support with their Superpowers. The children try out the objects in their favourite places. An exchange of perspectives and presentations promote public dialogue.

Here, of course, I thought it was a great thought to give the kids 'superpowers', with themes of generosity in resources, sharing, respectful caring for objects, promoting a diversity of perspectives. Open source resources were explicitly mentioned in their concept, as well as giving young people a stage to express their stories, combat social injustice, and focus on the today and the future. I'd like to borrow some of these kind thoughts for the PlayBern Festival. Kudos!


The MQBistDu app offers a space for participation that invites EVERYONE to help shape the future of the MuseumsQuartier Bern.

This was the only project that invited us to try a digital demo, accessible through a QR code, after being very artistically and theatrically presented as an elaborate paper prototype on stage. It was a fun and effective teaser of an app, that invites exploration of participative proposals with a simple swipe gesture. The team got an award and promised to recruit a developer: if one of you are reading this, feel free to get in touch!

Unfortunately, the link is already down, and I did not save a screenshot. But I do have a screenie of another Bernese app for you from that day: the famous Aare Guru – here telling me the river water is (for end of May) still shamelessly cold (I took a dip anyway ;-)

Aare Guru by the way has a great API!

KUltur GArten

KUltur GArten KUGA, Team: gleichjetzt
Eleven institutions and an intermediate space that connects them all. A cosy place full of inspiration and mystery. A living space for all the senses, for the heart and brain. An urban area that unfolds a surprising magic with its alchemy of culture, nature and science.

You had me at "alchemy"! I somehow got the feeling that this project was the most likely to get actual uptake, as they took considerable care to research the topical and physical geography of the institutions. Proposing topics that fit the current curatorial framework, they suggest a number of ways that sustainability could be a feature for future programs. The team used plants and flowers for a very organic looking proposal. And did I hear you say there would be "culture sauna"? You mean, like this one...? I hope your ideas soon hit their mark.

Superpowers! | mqb.ch

Get inspired from all 9 resulting projects, which hopefully will lead to new developments and innovative collaborations between the museums. Talking to people involved behind the scenes, I also got the feeling that it will not be the last Hackday of its kind, so stay tuned! You can read up on a lot of behind-the-scenes of the cultural institutions at https://mqb.ch/ and find more pics and videos on their Instagram.

And when you next fancy a cultural day out: 1) go to Bern alone or with friends, 2) find the Museumsquartier (on swisstopo, if you're lost in space) .. 3) go have a smashing time in there! Who knows what superpowers you will discover together?

Just hanging out :-) 8-) ;-)
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