Due to the corona crisis, almost all cultural heritage institutions have seen a huge decline in their visitor numbers. This concerns museums as well as galleries, archives, and libraries.
This decline relates to all types of visitors and users but especially to adults. In many cases, it is 50% or more. Even after restrictions have been lifted, the audience does not return
immediately, and the expectations for the future are not very hopeful. The institutions are doing their best to remain in the public’s attention in other ways, with great or smaller degrees of success. The question is whether this will be done in a sustainable manner and whether certain population groups are not excluded. Recent studies show that the pandemic has a major impact on a target group that can already be seen as vulnerable. While it is especially important for this target group to have social contacts and come into contact with culture, this is now seriously complicated by the circumstances.
Sustainability and inclusion
It sometimes seems as if every institution is re-inventing the wheel. Do people learn from each other or do they panic and try everything? Is there an exchange of experiences between heritage institutions? Success stories are shared enthusiastically on social media, but the results are often disappointing in the long term. Moreover, little is heard about what did not work. Visiting heritage institutions via online media is very well possible for the public that is already acquainted with this way of accessing information. But what about the elderly or people with less technical skills or opportunities? Or with no economical possibilities? How inclusive are these developments? And what about the audience that failed to show sufficient interest and initiative to visit?
The CRISP project
CRISP extensively researches initiatives in the cultural heritage sector focusing on good practice. This research takes place completely using online sources, but we will also interview those responsible – users, people within the industry, and political stakeholders. Also, an extensive survey among users and non-users will be carried out; we are interested as much in practices that don’t work as in those that do, as both will teach us important lessons going forward. We are especially – but by no means exclusively – interested in the experiences of adults that are facing economic, social, or health issues. Using four training activities, we will discuss the outcome of our investigations and prepare conclusions.