The AI Pilots Programme

For heritage fans & collection enthusiasts, techies & developers, co-thinkers & creatives

In 2021 and 2022, Badisches Landesmuseum and Allard Pierson invited people between the ages of 16 and 100 to help shape the jointly developed museum AI in a pilot phase:

Museum AI pilots get to know inspiring experts and work with artificial intelligence methods. They gain insights into the work of cultural history museums, take part in short discussion groups, exchange current ideas and help shape the direction of the future xCurator application.

xCurator is an AI-supported assistance tool to enable the curation of content and creative formats. AI Pilots participate with content, creativity and extraordinary skills or simply own motivation. No special prior knowledge is necessary.

Between April and December 2022, 20 sessions with a total of 100 interested parties took place at Badisches Landesmuseum, in which the focus and the goals of AI solutions in the museum were discussed and the xCurator development was accompanied. In the sessions, the possibilities of, for example, generative AI were discussed in order to examine the extent to which users would like to see the results of generative image and language models applied to museum data. In this way, the developments around OpenAI, Dall:E, GPT-3 and -4 were accompanied and the requirements of users were further examined.

The results were documented in writing or by video recording, scientifically evaluated and then transferred and applied to AI tool development. The equivalent of 5 sessions with a total of 25 participants took place at Allard Pierson Amsterdam in 2022. In 2023 the work with Focusgroups was continued with a Group of Bismarck-Gymnasium Karlsruhe, who tested the tool and contributed their experiences and needs.

The interviews and test show how different the demands and interest groups of the two museums are: While individual visitors, school classes and teachers are particularly relevant for Badisches Landesmuseum, Allard Pierson, as a university museum, primarily has researchers in mind. The wide range of stakeholders poses a challenge in tool development. So, the AI pilots were an important part of the Creative User Empowerment project because they determined which goals and functions the xCurator tool and the corresponding and underlying Datalab as space for researchers and for data enthusiasts should fulfil. Essentially, the participants wanted to improve findability, find connections and support own school or research work. Many were very curious about artificial intelligence as a technology and wanted to know more about what can be done with it.

But more importantly: These Sessions enabled us to develop common guidelines on how to shape the AI Solutions in this specific museum context, in regard to digital collections and to shape an openly discussed AI Strategy and ehical guidelines to follow. Read the Statements of the AI Pilots here. Most importantly the focusgroups stated clearly, that within in this curation tool, there is not much interest in AI generated Art and generative images, but more a focus on fact-supporting data analytics. For deeper insights into the methodology contact the project lead.