The project at the Technisches Museum Wien is aimed at exemplarily exploring and testing possibilities for the long-term preservation of experimental video games and graphic methods with relevance to Vienna and Austria. Games are still among the most popular instruments to get people interested in participation processes. Milestones along this path include the development of the necessary infrastructure and the participatory expansion of the Software Collection.
Project titel: The softwareLAB at the Technisches Museum Wien. Playful collecting
Funder: Vienna Business Agency 
Funding competition: Culture & Technology – Museum Focus
Partners: aBITpreservation, Jogi Neufeld/SUBOTRON, OpenSLX GmbH, Rhizome ArtBase and Margarete Jahrmann
Project period: 02.01.2023 to 31.12.2024
Amount of funding: EUR 85,984

Participatory collecting is a new form of collecting where the museum deliberately surrenders its traditional institutional prerogative of interpretation to interested communities, making them key players in the institutional production of knowledge right from the start. This can be accomplished through close collaboration with developers, designers, artists and gamers as well as through open exchange of expertise and needs.

As part of the project, the softwareLAB will be established at the Technisches Museum Wien and equipped with the technical infrastructure (workstation for forensics, electronic restoration, emulation and performance documentation). The work at the softwareLAB allows for the evaluation and experimental testing of software preservation strategies as well as the development of a risk assessment method and a documentation platform.

The initial starting point comprises three case examples from the software collection of software-based games and computer graphic technologies from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, among them the bequest of experimental computer graphic designer Wladimir Narbutt-Lieven (1918–2004), early games by Margarete Jahrmann (*1967), pioneer in experimental game design and head of the Experimental Game Cultures study programme at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, as well as a browser game designed to prevent right-wing radicalisation of Austrian adolescents (Decount 2020).

The funding provided by the Vienna Business Agency allows for launching a project with long-term effect, collaboration with local technology and creative partners as well as networking with Vienna-based museums and international partners facing similar challenges in collecting software.