Due to the COVID 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 letting go of the rules, 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 more or less success. The question is whether this will be done in a sustainable manner and whether certain population groups are not excluded.
It sometimes seems as if every institution is inventing the wheel itself. 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, you hear little of that which did not work.
Visiting heritage institutions via online media is well accessible for the public that already dealt with information in this way. 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 did not or hardly come and for which the hesitation or disinterest was too great even before the crisis?
Creativity and vision
There are many interesting initiatives, but is all creativity sufficiently addressed? Could there be something to be gained from outside our sector? What can we learn from each other in an efficient, effective and creative way? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves whether the way we interact with the public can continue in this way at all in the future? For example, is the concept of a museum, like a building where you visit and look at objects, still of this time. Even after the crisis we should think of ways to make heritage accessible but also financial and organizational affordable. Shouldn’t heritage institutions have to reinvent themselves? Maybe now is the time!
The CRISP project
CRISP extensively researches online accessibility initiatives in the cultural heritage sector focussing on good practices. This research takes place completely online, but we will have interviews with those responsible, with users and visionaries in the industry and politics. Also an extensive survey among users and non-users will be carried out. Purpose: to investigate what works and what doesn’t. We look at good practices but also at developments that did not work well. We will especially look at adults facing difficulties in an economic, social, or health-related way, but we are also interested in the impact on other sectors. In four training activities, we will discuss the outcome of our investigations and prepare conclusions.
Partners in CRISP are:
- Quiosq (Netherlands; co-ordinator)
- EduVita, Centro di formazione e cultura (Italy)
- Greek Cultural Institute (Greece)
- Inholland University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands)
- Plungé Public Library (Lithuania)
- Vismednet (Malta)
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Project no. 2020-1-NL01-KA227-ADU-082996