How should museums integrate new technology in their strategy?
As potential providers of new technology for museums, we are aware of the gap between existing museum practices and progressive technology. Most of the times, the two just don’t meet naturally. It is therefore of great importance, that intermediate bodies, such as the eCult Observatory, bring together cultural heritage institutions and technology providers. Two new publications, a ‘Vademecum’ and a ‘Vision paper’ on ICT and heritage are highly valuable for museums who want to integrate new technology in their collections.
‘Technology is a means, not an end.’
The eCult Vademecum can be used as a guide for museums on how to develop a technology strategy and for technology providers to understand the needs of cultural heritage institutions. It reminds us that technology is not the goal itself, but an enabler to reaching goals.
The main target group of the Vademecum are museums, cultural heritage sites and cultural heritage collection owners. But it also addresses those that finance them, i.e. ministries, or private or public foundations for the promotion of cultural heritage. The Vademecum answers questions professionals in the cultural heritage sector have about technology, such as: “Which is the most appropriate one for my needs, taking into consideration maintenance and interoperability? Where do I find it?” Practical scenarios help the cultural heritage professional to find the way to not only the right technology, but also to get a good strategy and find the right door to knock on for extra financial support.
Accompanying the practical guidelines and scenarios of the vademecum is a technologies catalogue, offering four different entry points for information seeking cultural heritage professionals:
- By Technologies: These follow the on-line coaching modules and give an overview of technologies currently used by cultural heritage institutions.
- By purpose: What do you want to achieve? Based on the purpose, technologies are suggested that are in use for similar purposes.
- By target group: This is often related to the purpose (e.g. user engagement, in particular special visitors groups).
- By Cultural Heritage collection: This compiles technologies for different types of collections. From here, based on your type of collection, you can find technology applications in similar situations.
We couldn’t help but point out here, that meSch technology is featured as Intelligent hardware in the catalogue!
The importance of speaking the language of museums
As an old saying goes: “Technology comes from Mars, culture from Venus.” Communication between representatives of both sides is therefore a question of language, in more than one sense. Even in meSch, where technology and cultural heritage people work side by side as co-designers of the technology, it is still necessary to keep building bridges which enable them to cross over to each other’s point of view and understand what each one is saying. And we are aware that there are a lot of museums out there who do not yet know of the existence of meSch technology, lest understand what problems it will be able solve for them. So in that sense, the Vademecum is also geared towards technology providers: “They can find out the difficulties, problems and challenges cultural heritage institutions face when wanting to introduce technology solutions. The Vademecum is thus meant to teach them the “language” that is understood by museum staff and cultural heritage professionals. This is, primarily, not to offer technology, but to offer solutions to certain situations.” And to fully integrate their findings in their strategy to bring together cultural heritage and technology, the eCultObservatory has installed ambassadors who can communicate between representatives of both sides and help them approach each other. Not simple, but a simply brilliant concept! And the best of it is: you can become an eCult Observatory ambassador yourself!
Download and more publications to come
These eCult Observatory publications give an overview of information collected in the past two years, in which the eCult community worked together during several events, online as well as in real life. Both are available for download:
- eCult Vademecum – a guide for museums to develop a technology strategy (pdf)
- eCult Vision Paper – for the use of ICT in cultural heritage (pdf)
Another publication about success stories will follow soon. This report will represent technologies stemming from EU projects that are used in museums or soon will be.
We are looking forward to the next publication already! Aren’t you too?