Dancing Museums is an action-research project designed to foster and sustain long-term collaborations between dance and museums. 

Dancing Museums shifts perceptions of what dance and the body can be in a museum. It discusses and challenges what a museum is – no longer a place where knowledge about others is produced, but rather a social learning space. 

It supports and develops a new generation of dance artists to imagine sustainable pathways, promote inclusion and transfer and share knowledge about cultural heritage. By enabling and encouraging people to inhabit a space differently, they experiment with new forms of democracy and community through dance. 

Dancing Museums has shown a true interest in people having a personal experience through a collective experience. Choreography in museums and galleries is more than just ‘putting on a show’. 

How can dance surprise visitors out of following conventions? How can dance physically engage people and affect the act of seeing? How can this lead to a longer, more deeply personal engagement with works of art and an art space? 

By playing with conventions and codes, Dancing Museums argues for a change of position for the audience. It places the audience at the heart and the collection as one of the assets.

Dancing Museums was developed in two phases:

Dancing Museums –
The democracy of beings (2018-2021) 

Dancing Museums #2 was an action research project involving 11 partners: 6 dance organisations, 2 museums, 1 university and 1 research centre, plus a multitude of other associated museums. Seven dance artists provided the creative engine for the journey. The aim of the project was to look at how the presence of dance can offer new ways of experiencing art and heritage. 

Each artist had 10 weeks of residency in their local context to work with the museum and dance organisations. Artists would then come together through a series of international workshops to share and exchange.

The local residencies enabled a full immersion in the daily life of a museum. They allowed artists to explore the spaces and how visitors behave in them; to experiment with new approaches to the art space, art work and public, always in close collaboration with the local museum and dance organisation teams, engaging local artists and representatives of the different communities. Sustainability, identity, collaboration, decoloniality and taking care of ephemeral heritage emerged as main themes and were explored in multiple ways and contexts. 

Dancing Museums –
Old masters, new traces (2015-2017)

Dancing Museums #1 was a two-year research project featuring five dance organisations, five choreographers and eight museums and galleries. The project comprised eight residencies, each lasting two weeks. Residencies included research time for the lead choreographer and a week of audience engagement.

The project was conceived to explore ways in which working together might result in more powerful interpretations or experiences of art.

Different artistic public formats were developed throughout the project. Each of them was unique in character and specific to the location.

The project was never the same in any space. Sometimes experimentations were performative. Sometimes those experiments would invite people to participate or have one-to-one interactions between an artist and a member of the public. The events placed the audience at the centre of the experience, blurring the boundaries between spectator and maker. Creative ways of using digital technologies also extended the reach of the project.

Promoting professional development for both staff and artists, both Dancing Museums projects created a space for practitioners to develop their work in dialogue with other art forms and share skills across multiple organisations, audiences, work practices and local contexts. 

Dancing Museums was co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme.