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Jun 29, 2015 3:00 EDT

Museum of Digital Art: Opening its doors with your help, the Museum of Digital Art will be Europe’s first physical & virtual museum dedicated to digital arts

iCrowdNewswire - Jun 29, 2015

Museum of Digital Art


Hello world! The Museum of Digital Art is dedicated to the art of code and the questions raised by the interactions between data, algorithms and society. It will have a virtual presence, on pretty much every screen connected to the internet. And a physical presence in the ground floor of the first high rise building of Zurich, Switzerland. The MuDA is initiated by the non-profit Digital Arts Association and bound to open its doors in January 2016.


To convert the now empty ground floor into a public museum, we had to get the approval of the Historic Monuments Protection Authority, a process that took 13 months instead of the 3 they had promised. This has left us with very little time to raise the complete funding for the museum. And while we managed to secure the operating budget in only 6 months, we urgently need help now to cover the missing part of the construction fees.

The deadline to sign the rental contract is at the end of this Kickstarter campaign. We cannot sign without being able to cover the costs of the necessary transformations, which are already planned and would start immediately after signing. We really, really need your support to make this happen, the MuDA will not be able to open without you.


MuDA stands for Museum of Digital Art. An institute that will host exhibitions featuring artists from across all continents using code to create mind-blowing art at the intersection of science and creativity.

The MuDA will host three exhibitions per year, which will last three to four months each. For every exhibition, we will develop an experimental digital version (catalogue). In between we will host events, physical computing workshops, panel discussions and talks related to digital technology and society.


The money raised on Kickstarter will be used to pay for the needed construction works. Currently the space comprises an empty reception hall, two elevators and many small rooms. In order to host exhibitions we need to tear down most of the walls and make the entire space wheelchair accessible.

The City Building Authority has made a number of requirements that include three new toilet facilities, a ramp to make the entrance accessible and the refurbishing of certain walls in respect to the historic forms of this protected building. We need to fulfill these demands in order to open the premises to the public. And this costs quite a bit of money, especially when you live in an expensive country like Switzerland and are dealing with a historical building with unusually high safety demands. Here is a breakdown:


Compared to traditional arts, digital arts have a number of advantages. Not only in terms of engagement, but also in terms of logistics. Digital artworks usually have no physical value. Thus, the MuDA doesn’t need to implement high security systems, nor does it need to contract marked-up insurances. Transportation costs are minimal and artworks don’t require particular room climate. This, combined with a lean organisational structure, allows the MuDA to run with much lower operating costs than similar-sized art institutions.

BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset.
BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset.

Even so the MuDA aims to keep its entry fees affordable. The provisional income based on the projected number of visitors as well as through the sale of digital catalogues (apps) would therefore cover around one-third of the total budget in the first year and already its majority in the third year.

Despite the fact that the MuDA’s running costs are low in comparison to similar institutions, it will also rely on dona­tions and subsidies to cover its entire budget. Therefore the museum partners up with like-minded technology and engineering companies and institutes, as well as apply for art grants to carry out the MuDA’s vision.

This beauty goes automatically to everybody pledging $1,000 or more. It's a limited edition of 32, of which 14 already go to existing backers who have contributed $1,000 or more. There are 18 left to date.
This beauty goes automatically to everybody pledging $1,000 or more. It’s a limited edition of 32, of which 14 already go to existing backers who have contributed $1,000 or more. There are 18 left to date.
Detail view: Mapping of every single pledge by amount and minute (will be completed if Kickstarter ends successfully).
Detail view: Mapping of every single pledge by amount and minute (will be completed if Kickstarter ends successfully).


MuDA stands for Museum of Digital Art. An institute that will host exhibitions featuring artists from across all continents using code to create mind-blowing art at the intersection of science and creativity.

Code generated screensaver, one of our lovely rewards.
Code generated screensaver, one of our lovely rewards.


The radical shift brought by digital technology is unprecedented. The speed of its development and its increasingly fundamental role in our society creates a strong urge to look at the complexity of its resulting impact. Data accessibility, algorithms taking over human tasks, the implementation of artificial intelligence… The list of questions raised by digital technology is very long. At the moment, spaces to address these issues without corporate or political agendas are rare. The MuDA can become the place where these discussions can happen in an open and neutral environment. Without being too serious about it either. More in a playful and approachable way, with the aim of making complex issues tangible by tackling very concrete examples with the people directly involved.

CLOUD by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett.
CLOUD by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett.


Code is beautiful. A few lines of text and a handful of zeros and ones can give birth to something with astonishing intricacy. There is nothing more encouraging (and frustrating when it doesn’t work!). The MuDA is an attempt to bring this spark to a broad audience, especially to young women. We will frequently organise free tours for schools and offer workshops to interested students and teachers during which they can learn how to physically take a computer apart, rebuild and rewrite them to fit their own ideas. To shift them from technology consumers to makers and maybe even make them consider this when thinking about their future.

Bird's-eye view of the future museum building, hopefully.
Bird’s-eye view of the future museum building, hopefully.


After extensive location hunting, the possibility to invest the ground floor of one of Switzerland’s oldest high-rise made the MuDA go bananas. Quite literally, in fact.

In 1959, the Migros Cooperative, Switzerland’s largest food retailer, bought about 50,000 m2 of land on which was erected, just two years later, one of Switzerland’s first high-rise building, the Herdern Hochhaus. The purpose of the 58-meter tall building was to provide logistics, distribution and storage space for their food delivery chain — including a ripening hall for all the bananas that were dispatched from there to all corners of Switzerland.

The building shortly after its completion in 1961.
The building shortly after its completion in 1961.

Classified as a listed monument in 2012 due to its industrial historical importance, parts of the premises were left empty after an internal reorganisation and have since then been reconverted for cultural activities. As if it wasn’t exciting enough, this former industrial zone is Zurich’s fastest developing district, and the host to a dynamic and growing creative and tech industry. The MuDA found its perfect home.

The pattern of the official MuDA sweatshirt (reward for ALL backers pledging $500 and more) is written by Alberto Totanetti, and will be knitted in one of Switzerland’s last mill. Talk about materialising code!
The pattern of the official MuDA sweatshirt (reward for ALL backers pledging $500 and more) is written by Alberto Totanetti, and will be knitted in one of Switzerland’s last mill. Talk about materialising code!

digital (adjective): Expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1. Oxford Dictionary



Each exhibition is dedicated to one solo artist or artist collective. It will not stage group or themed exhibitions. This direction insures lean logistics and gives a unique character to each exhibition. The artists are selected entirely on the basis of their work. Each chosen artist is given as much freedom as possible to curate their own exhibition, while the MuDA team functions as a facilitator. The following rules are however suggested:

1. The heart of the artworks hosted at the MuDA, the part that makes everything run, should be code and numbers, bits and bytes.

2. Technology is at its very best when it is invisible. The MuDA doesn’t want to hold exhibitions where art is entirely displayed on screens. On the contrary, the MuDA encourages physical installations that appeal to multiple sensory organs and provide a reason to physically experience the artworks.

3. Since the MuDA is a small museum (but not only because of that!), its administrators believe in the “less but better” maxim. Exhibitions should not be a clutter of things. They should instead display a carefully chosen selection of artworks, that will have space to unfold and be fully experienced.

Andreas Gysin, one half of Swiss artists duo Gysin-Vanetti, scheduled to be the opening act.
Andreas Gysin, one half of Swiss artists duo Gysin-Vanetti, scheduled to be the opening act.


Each exhibition is accompanied by a unique digital catalogue, which can be downloaded as a paid App for desktops, tablets and mobiles (Android/iOS). This support offers a comprehensive insight into the artists’ sources of inspiration and working processes; as well as an in-depth documentation of the artworks displayed at the MuDA.


The website muda.co performs as the virtual equivalent of the MuDA. It functions as a lively platform promoting digital artists, their works and experiments. It displays a permanent collection of interactive artistic experimentations and frequently reports about contemporary artists, exhibitions and artworks from a vibrant digital community from around the world.

Gentle Brain by Eugene Krivoruchko is the first piece of an ongoing series at muda.co.
Gentle Brain by Eugene Krivoruchko is the first piece of an ongoing series at muda.co.


The MuDA keeps its printed communication limited. Being a museum of digital arts, it focuses on digital channels to communicate. Benefiting from long-lasting relationships with international online media, the MuDA uses its network for public announcements in order to reach a large global audience in a cost-efficient way. Alongside this international approach, it focuses on the local community. The MuDA builds on a strong network of local communities, companies, non-profits, schools and universities.

Mockup of one of the very few printed things from the MuDA.
Mockup of one of the very few printed things from the MuDA.


The Museum of Digital Arts is a project of the Digital Arts Association (DAA), a non-profit organisation domiciled in Zurich. The DAA was founded to promote digital arts and support its creators and community in the belief in computer code’s potential and importance as an expressive artistic tool. The defined goals of the association are the following:

  • Inspire and engage a broad audience with digital art. 
  • Create public and neutral platforms to discuss the interactions between data, algorithms and society. 
  • Promote code-based technology, science and engineering to young people, especially women and girls. 
  • Establish and support regional, national and international collaborations in digital arts. 
  • Operate in a lean and sustainable way, without relying on unreasonable amounts of private or public money.

The DAA was founded by Caroline Hirt (born in Hong Kong) and Christian Etter (born in Switzerland). They have previously produced exhibitions in Asia and Europe, worked for institutes like the Centre Pompidou and the Shanghai Art Museum. They are also involved in independent and experimental digital art projects and in the organisation of game jams. Their communal backgrounds are in digital media, science and technology, gender studies and journalism.


City of Zurich: “Set at the intersection of culture, economy and technology, the project is from our perspective a means to strengthen Zurich’s reputation and development as an innovative economic and scientific hub on an international level.” — Rahel Kamber, City and Economic Development, City of Zurich

National Arts Council: “Indeed it should fill a profound gap in the Swiss cultural scenes, which deeply lack significant places dedi­cated to contemporary digital creation.” — Michel Vust, Project Leader, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Tech Industry: “Now, with the new Museum of Digital Art, these companies will also benefit from a substantial cultural institution where technology and art fuses to inspire a large global audience.“ — Lukas Sieber, Head of Communications, Greater Zurich Area


There are different ideas and a certain amount of confusion when it comes to digital arts. One of the reasons for this is because it cannot be described as an art movement; it is above all a description of its underlying system rather than of its contents or medium.

The word digit refers to numbers, originating from the Latin digitus (finger, toe) and derives from the practice of counting on fingers. Hence, digital art is in fact the art of numbers and refers to works created and run through numbers.


Digital Art (noun): Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as an essential part of the creative or presentation process. Wikipedia

Technology has become increasingly complex. Computer languages are built on top of one another, layer upon layer. At the very bottom, the founding layer is the binary code, the zeros and ones running everything, the digital heartbeat.

Therefore, the defining factor of digital arts is that the artwork itself thrives on computer code. This opens up this art discipline to a manifold of possibilities. The contents themselves can be Minimal, Expressionist or Surreal. It can be physical — like an interactive installation — or entirely virtual — like a website. Numbers are abstract, their tangibility is thus irrelevant.

Which leads us to another reason underlying the confusion around digital arts, an aspect that has to do with our society’s current tendency to mix financial and social values, therefore judging artists and their work on the basis of the amount one is willing to pay for it.

This mechanism can result in a self-sustaining system in which collectors pay high amounts for art, thereby allegedly legitimating the artistic value of the said artwork, which in turn increases further in price. A self-fulfilling prophecy resulting in record-high art sales and feeding large parts of an industry that has grown enormously over the past decade.

Museum (noun): A non-profit institution in the service of society and its development. The International Commission of Museums

Digital arts however don’t fit well in this pattern. Given that their very nature is based on ideas more than on matter, on accessibility more than ownership, it is not easy to attach a financial value to it. Hence a resistance from the traditional art industry towards digital arts. Because of all this, and at least for now, the domain of digital arts seems much more ground breaking compared to other art disciplines. Creators appear to be driven by the love for the art itself instead of recognition — which should always be a result and not the goal. Moreover, consumers don’t appear to fall for the limiting notion of a fixed value system, allowing a broad diversity of art to coexist. For these reasons it seems that the wide term of digital arts defines some of the most exciting artworks currently created.

PS: “Muda” (無駄) is also a Japanese term for inefficient production processes – a fitting description for a space fostering experiments and discussions.

We have been working on this for over four years. The challenges of converting the premises of a historically protected building into a museum are legion. We finally own all the necessary permissions and our conversion plan has been approved by the authorities. From our point of view, we therefore have tackled the biggest risk and hurdle. But nothing is set in stone, and as with every Kickstarter project, there are a few things that could go wrong:

1. There is a risk that the actual costs are higher than our estimates. These cost estimates are made by professional third parties and include a common buffer of 10%. However, there is a small risk that unexpected developments arise and increase the final costs.

2. In order to keep everything lean and efficient, we are a very small team. But that also means that if somebody had to drop out due to health or personal reasons, it would give a big blow to the project. There are no signs for this, but we just want to make you aware of this.

Other than that, we don’t see anything crucial. We will make sure that you are always kept in the loop. And we will keep our communication with you honest and transparent throughout the whole process, especially (but not only!) if we bump into problems.

The Museum of Digital Art is just that close to turning from an idea to a reality. Your support at this crucial juncture will help determine if the MuDA will be able to open its doors. Your backing will allow us to give digital arts, creators and the community evolving around it, a new and independent home.

Contact Information:

Digital Arts Association

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