Professionals in Focus: Michal Čudrnák, Head of Digital Collections and Services at the Slovak National Gallery
Are you interested in the interesting and complex jobs in digital cultural heritage? So are we. So each month we dive into the work of professionals in the sector. This time, we speak with Members Councillor Michal Čudrnák on the Velvet Revolution and his passion for meeting and working with inspiring and diverse people.
I worked with several cultural organisations/NGOs dealing with new media, art and technology while studying Library and Information Science at the Comenius University in Bratislava. This mix stayed with me when I started to work at the Slovak National Gallery. For a short period, I worked in the marketing department and soon after that, I grabbed the chance to join the Information and Documentation department, which was about to start to work on a new collection management system and digitisation project.
What are you currently working on?
One of the projects we are working on in our department is dealing with the Velvet Revolution. The 30th anniversary of the 1989 events which led to the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia will be commemorated by many events, publications and projects. Ours will be digital (spilling into non-digital), telling the events and stories of 1989 through visual culture, photography, audio and video from archives and museums. Július Koller, one of the pioneers of conceptual art in Czechoslovakia captured the events of that year in his 'ČAS-OPIS' (TIME-TRANSCRIPT), mostly factual day-by-day description of information from the media, or his own observation. It’s almost like a Twitter feed of both historically significant and mundane statuses. We will be transcribing this handwritten document using a crowd-sourcing tool and the resulting text will be reused as raw data, to be enhanced and expanded further with stories and content. I’m curious to see where this will lead us – it’s an open format so far.
What are some of the challenges in your role? What are some of your favourite elements?
Keeping track of what is going on in the institution and other departments and translating that into our work - this is both a challenge and something I enjoy. Whether we work with curators to develop apps for exhibitions, or with registrars who want to capture the procedures like loans out in digital. Working with a diverse group of people, getting to know their work and working on common projects. Recently our scope has broadened to include work for other institutions - museums and galleries from Czech and Slovak republic, which boosts this element even more!
What was your motivation for joining the Members Council?
I've been a member of the Europeana Network Association for quite some time, ever since the Slovak National Gallery started to provide records to Europeana. I got to know many inspiring people from Europeana and ENA and some of them asked me whether I wanted to come forward in the Member Council elections. Joining the Members Council is a good way to get to know how a fairly big and ambitious digital platform and network operates, while being able to influence its direction.
What do you plan to do as a Members Councillor?
I joined the Impact Community and currently my aim is to introduce the Impact Playbook and concept to the local community of GLAM practitioners in Slovak and Czech Republic, but also to contribute to its development. I am also hoping to contribute to the EuropeanaTech Community, which has been quite prolific recently, not least with the great EuropeanaTech Conference in Rotterdam.