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
With the support of the European community in the Erasmus Plus project, a group of institutions in six different countries conducted research into best practices. The work consisted of identifying the impact of the Covid crisis in the respective country and in Europe as a whole and describing a large number of cases. For the description, contact has been made with those responsible for the design and implementation. All cases can be found on this website, described in a structured manner. The partners within the CRISP project discussed the results in four training sessions and looked at possible 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.