Lili Šturm, Coordinator of Public Relations, Public Programmes & Educational Programmes, International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Museum institutions as places of relaxed leisure? What is an attractive way of pointing to the active social role of museums and galleries, to their co-creation of contemporary living? Where and how to seek modes of relating to audiences structured according to various requests and needs? How to transform dilemmas and behavioural patterns of visitors claiming that they fail to understand the world behind museum doors? In short, how to establish a museum/gallery as a socialising place for contemporary urban population (in the first place)?
In the search for answers to these questions the International Centre of Graphic Arts has been organising 'popular' events. On 8 March, the International Day of Women, the female part of the working collective has been organising traditional cheerful meetings of female workers, collaborators, friends, acquaintances, supporters and other women. An interesting museum attraction is the Graphic Art Flea, a yearly fair of fine art catalogues, books, posters and other publications, accompanied by a number of animation activities, including happy-hour entrance fees, workshops for youth and old, family packages, ordered bargaining, and awards for good customers. This year on the midsummer night (21 June), the first Ljubljana Museum Summer Night was initiated and organised by the International Centre of Graphic Arts and most of the Ljubljana galleries, museums and exhibition grounds joined in the action. The cheerful ambience attracted numerous visitors and received enthusiastic praise in the media.
These events have been addressing the public in a direct, trouble-free and entertaining manner. Different concerns and worries that such activities would reduce the professional level of exhibitions and other programmes have been denied. The relaxed, informal attention and personal engagement bring fresh and inquisitive visitors to the galleries. New and close relations are being established, which could become permanent – and the events traditional.