Museo

Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes

On Saturday, September 22, Wikimedia Mexico co-hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in the Hall of Murals of the Palace at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (MPBA). The edit-a-thon–co-sponsored by MPBA and Wikipedia student clubs at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM)– was conducted to create and improve information available in Spanish Wikipedia about works preserved at the museum. The Wikipedia Student Club at UNAM also invited Sandra Zetina Ocaña, restorer and art historian, to discuss the works, provide updated bibliographies to wikipedians, and to talk about the context and meaning of the murals.

The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City is one of the major cultural venues in the country, and a majestic and endearing landmark in the capital. It was designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari in 1904 and completed in 1934 by Federico Mariscal before the Mexican revolution, which explains the multiplicity of styles in its exterior and interior. Inside, the walls are covered in a collection of large-format oil paintings made by the great Mexican muralists, expressly for the palace.

Mexican muralism was an artistic movement developed in the first half of the 20th century, with the participation of legendary Mexican artists such as Diego RiveraDavid Alfaro SiqueirosJosé Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo, among others. The creative, transformative and educational activities of the movement left a deep mark on the subsequent pictorial discourse, which is studied today by many specialists in the history of art in Mexico. As noted by Raquel Tibol, contemporary Mexican artists should learn from the “lack of inhibition in Rivera, the expressionist temperament of Clemente Orozco, the profound experimental feeling of Siqueiros and the avant-garde creative capacity of Rufino Tamayo.” [1]

The Hall of Murals is a beautiful space, visited by hundreds of thousands of people in a year, part of one of the most visited museums in Mexico. For eight hours, we created twelve new articles about the murals. It was very interesting to see twenty people typing on their laptops, reviewing the available references, and working together right in the middle of an Art Deco venue. Hundreds of people visiting the murals while we edited came to ask that why we were there, and some of them decided to participate the next time we hold an event.

“I will never forget the edit-a-thon at the Palace of Fine Arts,” said Sandra Zetina Ocaña, who wrote the Wikipedia article for Murales del Palacio de Bellas Artes (in spanish) during the event. “Usually I write alone or in a group of a few specialists (rarely more than two). I like the idea of overcoming singular authorship to write collectively, and to experiment with the flexibility of knowledge. I’m excited by the way Wikipedia is written, based on the sum of contributions that achieve a polished article, interwoven relationships, images, text, video — the text as a dynamic object.”

MPBA authorities have recently worked on digital projects that enrich online content related to Mexican art, including on Wikipedia, and because of this we were able to use these amazing facilities for our successful edit-a-thon. In recognition of the Wikipedia gender gap, where as few as 9 percent of contributors are female, the event was coordinated and organized by women, who made up the majority of the participants.

“We formed a tangible network, an enthusiastic marathon, mixing various interests, small epiphanies and a group who was surprised by its own power,” said Zetina Ocaña. “We created a community that included spectators, museum managers, anyone sensitive to the power of knowledge”

Click here to view a video interview about the edit-a-thon.

Ivan Martínez, Wikimedia México