The ULK Art Labs are the SMK's social and creative community for young people between the ages of 15 and 25 – headed by 38 art pilots, art interpreter Frederik Henrik Knap, the artist Nikolaj Recke, and interaction designer Louise Springborg.The art pilots are volunteers who work on projects in close collaboration with museum staff. They meet every Wednesday in lab 01 at the museum, and their efforts – all of which aim at engaging and involving users – cover the full process right from the very first idea for a project is born to its realisation. All projects share one common vision: art should feel relevant to young people, and creativity should be part of their everyday lives.
As volunteer workers and facilitators for other users the art pilots are crucially important as agents of change for the SMK. By forming a community, the ULK Art Labs forge invaluable long-term relationships between the museum and young people. This is done via daring, experimental projects carried out at the museum itself, involving co-operation with art educators/interpreters, artists, curators, and interaction designers – and also through collaboration with external partners outside the museum setting, e.g. at festivals, on digital platforms, and in the urban space. The art pilots strive to share their enthusiasm for art, and as volunteer workers they are interested in how the SMK and art can play a part in their own lives and in the lives of other young people. We share their interest and sheer curiosity. As a result, we very deliberately aim to give the art pilots something back in the form of tools for project management, learning & interpretation activities, and communication.
The art pilots work with user involvement as a dynamic, democratic process where learning arises through process-oriented – and at times challenging – negotiations. The collaborative processes and the knowledge they unearth show us why art pilots and young users can help shape the SMK as a multivoiced space. When ULK projects succeed they do so because the framework established, the facilitation provided by the art pilots, and the underlying respect for and appreciation of user input all merge to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The objective is not to reach consensus, but to accommodate the different voices of a range of very different young people.