Introductory dialogue – 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – 23 April 2015
The mission, ethics, values. A question about the role of museums in creation of value
Professor Hans-Martin Hinz, President of the International Council of Museums, ICOM,
Professor Stanisław Waltoś, Jagiellonian University
The role of museums in the service of society should be a subject of permanent consideration and discussion among museologists, politicians and museum supervisors in order to ensure museums have a significant role to play in the world's culture and economy. Museums should be leaders of sharing information and dialogue about the history and culture. They should promote good practices in accordance with the principles of sustainable development, and – using their collections – they should conduct continuous education of societies. They should be platforms for a dialogue and reconciliation between communities. However, we also must not forget the equally important aspect associated with museums – the pleasure of visiting them!
As the President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), I support with determination the dialogue of international community of museologists around the world, which has been carried on for numerous years by our national and international committees. This dialogue affects our strategic thinking, acting according to the principles of ethics, building museum programs, it also has an impact on improving the quality and diversity of our daily work for museums of all kinds. I would like especially appreciate the Polish National Committee of ICOM for its excellent international work and for the long–lasting popularization and promotion of results and achievements of our organization.
The main intention of the founders of the ICOM, as an international NGO dealing with the full spectrum of activities of museums, was and still is to promote high standards of conduct and work of these institutions having public role to play for the society. Especially after World War II, after the years of violation of human rights and values in many countries, museums faced the need to re-evaluate the ethical standards applied to take care of the collected heritage. Museums – basing on comprehensive cooperation – have to think together how to use their resources to present and thus promote universal, humanistic values.
The discussions on museum standards at ICOM which intensified in the late 1960s, in the 1980s became even stronger and triggered development of the first ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums which specified the rules of ethics for museums and general principles adopted by the international community of museologists. The discussion on these issues has not subsided. It also continues today in many meetings of our colleagues around the world and includes issues related to updating the definition of a museum and new tasks our institutions are currently facing.
In the rapidly changing world, governed by laws of digital communication technology, museums have to deal with these challenges, as well as manage their work in a modern way. Museums are now competing with numerous media and act under their pressure – the Internet or social media impose short and hectic time and require actions densely filled with events, instead of systems of work which are more traditional, longer, slower and filled with consideration. Nevertheless, museums also lively act and adjust to this trend, adapting to the expectations of a modern audience and meeting the demand of different social groups.
From their origin, the objective of museums around the world, has been to search for answers to the question of where we come from and what is our place in the natural world. Our aim has also been to study who we are and how we build a common future, how we can keep track of the changes taking place in the history of countries, nations, and interpersonal relations. Museums help to determine our current relationships, indicate where and why in the history of the world human actions have failed, and where positive changes have taken place. This affirmative effort of museums helps visitors to understand the past and participate in sustainable, democratic processes of the development of societies, based on respect for human values.
The first ever Polish, having a great momentum congress of museologists in which we have today the opportunity to participate, is the perfect opportunity to discuss paths that we have to walk to properly take care of the inherited legacy and ensure development of this very significant cultural space which is called the museology. We should do so by further promoting of the most important achievements of museums and by efforts to sustain our highest values in the challenging and changing world.
Reflecting on the mission, ethics and value of museums in the twenty-first century, we can list the undoubted aspects of their operation which are as follows:
- The mission of museums in the modern world, perceived as a job to complete is striving to maintain and transmit to posterity the values for protection of which museums have been established.
- The essence of the mission of museums can be described primarily as a duty of protecting the fundamental values of the cultural and natural heritage, and an artefact is the primary object of such protection.
- The burden of responsibility for the storage, maintenance and presentation of artefacts rests on museologists, independently of responsibilities of other individuals and institutions.
- The public has a right to expect that museums respect: the principle of truth when exhibiting artefacts, the principle of collecting and storing of collections in accordance with the statutes of the museum, the principle of respect for personal rights and the rules of professional ethics for museums. This expectation is justified by the mission that has to be fulfilled by museums.
These four statements are the only ones that actually do not raise controversy. All other aspects of museum operation in the twenty-first century are subject to discussions. In particular, questions which remain without answer are those about feasibility of the mission as defined in Article 1 of the Act of 1996 on Museums, about interpretation of the past in museums, commercialization of museums, the dogma of the museum durability, categorization of museums and its benefits, legal and moral obligation of societies to support museums, relationship between artefacts in the form of objects and simulacra, the museums' right to autonomy in relationship with their supervisors, status of museologists as a profession of public trust, relationships between museologists and collectors, the right to deaccession of artefacts, duty to carry provenance studies and legal consequences resulting from such studies. Answers to these and similar questions always refer to creation of value by museums.
Program presentation session (part 1) – 1:30 p.m. – 2.20 p.m. – 23 April 2015
1. Polish museums in the light of statistics
Professor Piotr Majewski, National Institute for Museums and Public Collections
The presentation will use a review and diagnostic approach. The aim of the author is to attempt (on the basis of available statistical data) to identify key problems of Polish museums. The purpose of the statistical data analysis will be also an attempt to provide preliminary recommendations to solve these problems. To develop the presentation there will be used the following studies and data sources (some of them are listed below):
Studies relating to the years of 1989-2008:
- D. Folga-Januszewska, Museums in Poland 1989–2008, "Muzealnictwo" 2009, no. 50, pages 18–46;
- Museological education in Poland. The situation, context and prospects for development. The report on the condition of museological education in Poland, edited by Marcin Szeląg, Warsaw 2012
Data sources relating to the years of 2009-2014:
- Central Statistical Office;
- The European Group on Museum Statistics;
- The "Statistics of Museums" project developed by the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections;
- The list of museums with the statute or the regulations agreed with the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the National Register of Museums kept by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage;
- The Competence Centre for Digitization in Museums at the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections.
- The national list of artefacts stolen or illegally carried abroad.
The presentation should be a contribution to further work on the development of a statistical study system on Polish museums, taking into account national (Central Statistical Office) and international (EGMUS, etc.) standards for statistics of cultural institutions.
The presentation will use a review and diagnostic approach. Its purpose is an attempt to identify the key problems of Polish museums, as well as to form preliminary recommendations to solve them. The preliminary analysis will be based on available statistical data. Presentation of the paper, as well as recall of valuable statistical data of archive character and an attempt to analyse the current statistical data should be a contribution to further work on the development of a statistical study system on Polish museums, taking into account national (Central Statistical Office) and international (EGMUS, etc.) standards for statistics of cultural institutions. The following reports will be used: D. Folga – Januszewska, Muzea w Polsce 1989–2008, "Muzealnictwo", 2009, no. 50; Edukacja muzealna w Polsce. The situation, context and prospects for development. The report on the condition of museological education in Poland, edited by Marcin Szeląg (Warsaw 2012) and information obtained from the "Statistics of Museums" project run by the National Institute of Museology and Conservation of Collections and data from the Central Statistical Office.
2. Do museums need redefining?
Michał Niezabitowski, Director of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, President of the Association of Polish Museologists
The question in the title contains one significant inaccuracy – it namely does not specify what definition it is about. Dictionaries and encyclopaedias provide different definitions, also legislative acts of different countries include various definitions. The First Congress of Polish Mueologists reflects on the Polish museology, of course, in the international context. Thus, the basic premise of this presentation is to make the Act on Museums of 21 November 1996, as amended (particularly the Article 1 of the Act) the main, but not the only point of reference. The definition of a museum which is contained in the Act requires reflection and consideration to answer the question of whether it describes the essence of museums in a way that is relevant to the actual activity of museums today. The statutory provision strongly indicates the nature of museums which is to protect heritage by collecting and storing artefacts. This function is unchallenged, but in the contemporary reality it seems not to be complete. It is required to notice the dispute over the paradigm, which divides the Polish community of museologists. Is a museum determined by its collection and resulting collector's functions, or perhaps by visitors and social functions related to them? Clearly, the range of these questions refers to the openness of museums for activities undertaken in the social space. Is the change of activity of museums in this field a threat to competence of museums referring to preparing of artefacts? Can it decrease the scientific value of museum functions which are so much needed in the reference to publishing, exhibition and conservation activities? So is there no risk to oversimplify the message provided by museums, which will begin to focus their activity on the entertainment content? On the other hand, won't passive approach of museums in the social field cause a loss of a part of the visitors? And finally, doesn't it result in the erosion of public confidence in view of the inability to meet the expectations? Perception of museums by some part of the society as conservative, unattractive institutions is difficult to miss. On the other hand, almost thirty million people who annually visit Polish museums, seem to deny this statement. Finally, the phenomenon of lacking understanding of the role of museums by some supervisors, which is reflected in the expectation of museums 'events-like' activities in the field of so-called leisure industry also requires commenting. The collision of the two perspectives – a museum seen as a temple of art and a museum seen as a temple of consumption – often creates tensions within and around museums.
The presentation aims to outline different perspectives and to ask questions about the effects resulting from various approaches. Answers to these questions will be for the Congress of Polish Museologists a basis for the revision of the statutory provisions.
The presentation aims to confront today's actual function of museums with definitions contained in the Act on Museums. The current situation of museums is presented in view of the existing risks and inadequacy of existing statutory provisions. The risks arise mainly from misunderstanding of the basic functions of museums, focused on the protection of heritage. This misunderstanding makes some members of the public find museums unattractive, conservative institutions drawing energy solely from the past. This situation results also from the lack of understanding of the role of museums by some supervisors. On the other hand, museums are expected to carry out "events-like" activities in the field of leisure industry. In this perspective, museums are seen as attractive and useful institutions for political or economic activities. The collision of the two perspectives – a museum seen as a temple of art and a museum seen as a temple of consumption – often creates violent tensions within and around museums. The main point of the presentation indicates inadequacy of the definitions in the applicable legislation compared to the actual role of museums and their tasks.
Program presentation session (part 2) – 4:00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. – 23 April 2015
3. Museums in local and regional policies of governments (presentation of facts).
Andrzej Porawski, Director — Association of Polish Cities.
During the second stage of political reform many cultural institutions, including most of the museums, were – depending on the scope of their activities – handed over for the supervision of local governments of communes, cities, counties and provinces. Like any other element of decentralized government, they become elements of the local or regional policy of the local government units. The obvious result of this stage of the political reform is strong differentiation of supervisors in their approach to these institutions. Under the current regulations, each local government entity autonomously takes these institutions into account while developing its policies. Often these are not only cultural policies, but also educational, social, and even promotional ones. There are some examples of cities for which the museum has become a trademark (e.g. Mehoffer Museum in Turek). One thing is certain, as evidenced by the numbers – local government expenditures on culture, including on museums, have significantly increased since museums were handed over to them, but also in this respect the situation is variable, which is challenged by the advocates of the old order. This does not mean that the situation in this respect should not be compared and evaluated. In particular, it is important to continually educate local and regional governments, how great is the importance of building a culture of remembrance for the preservation and development of both local and national identity. Museums can and should focus this process of building, and the entire local (regional) community should consider museums as their common asset.
The presentation attempts to describe the current relationship between museums and local governments. An important element of this presentation is to outline directions of major conflicts of interest — delimitation of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. The diagnosis will be presented from the perspective of supervisors (local authorities). In this regard the Congress is a unique opportunity to go beyond the horizons of particular groups of interests. It allows to confront views and understand needs/expectations of partners, which most often are articulated only within both groups on each sides of the barricade hindering a dialogue. The presentation also provides an opportunity to present statistics on museums covered by the surveys of the Association of Polish Cities in 2011-2013 and to discuss them in comparison to other cultural institutions (investments, attendance).
4. Era of museums? A museum as a medium, a museum as a mediator
Professor Robert Traba, Director of the Centre for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin
The title of the presentation is in line with the trend of modern cultural studies, sociology of culture and inter-cultural communication (media studies). I would like to refer to it from the perspective of the cultural history. The growing pluralism of the stories about the past makes the voice of history as a scientific discipline less heard. The basis for my considerations is formed by two concepts: more and more popular in Poland "culture of remembrance" and less popular during the professional reflection on the past "historical culture". Basing on their theoretical assumptions, I will try to inscribe in them the phenomenon of a modern historical museum.
On the public stage, not only in Poland, museums are becoming an increasingly important entities creating images of the past. I want to deal not only with the analysis of individual museums or exhibitions, but more with the discourses they evoke. I mean both the canonical narrative on the history of Poland and Europe (mainly Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Polish History Museum, Museum of the Second World War, European Solidarity Centre, Warsaw Rising Museum), as well as those narratives on the side of the main trends that are reflected in regional or biographical museums or hundreds of local museums and chambers memory.
In the public debate present are mainly museums established (or being established) after 2004, the purpose of which is to show the history of Poland in the twentieth century. Their popularity proves the social demand for a new narrative about the past. They filled the narrative emptiness in Poland introducing mainly so-called identity museum. What does it feature? How does it form new spaces for debate and threats for the dialogue about the past? What is its role in the so-called process of changes in the field of contemporary culture? And finally – how is developed the dialogue between memory and history not only in the "identity museums"?
It is assumed that for purposes of historical studies there is used a division into the clerical, revisionist and critical history (K. Pomian). This division can be also applied more broadly to the museological studies of the past. The first two types of working on the history constitute a dispute on different types of memory and they dominate in museums. Thanks to using professional tools, the critical history should break away from the narrative identity and it should stay outside of the current disputes about memory. This does not mean that history eliminates itself from the public space. That criticism regarding the use of proper tools can put history in the epicentre of the memory conflict: between the clerical history (memory), a clerical history and a revisionist one. Revising the image of the past of Poland, we are invited to a continuous debate and redefining of existing images of the past in the light of new or re-read sources. Can this interpretation of history appear in museums dominated by normative story?
In recent years, the role of museums and the way they are perceived by the public has significantly changed. The new dimensions of activity demonstrates by growing importance of new exhibitions and accompanying debates and discussions to name only some. Museums play an increasingly important role in shaping opinions and their expanding range and activity in public space have an impact on trends and attitudes. Can we nowadays repeat after Pierre Nora, that it is not only the "era of commemoration" but also the "era of museums"? Do museums, previously seen as staid and conservative, become a creator of social change? How do expectations of visitors change and what factors shape perception of museums? Do museums in the first decades of the twenty-first century play a role of a new medium? What is different in this respect between museums and other traditional media? It turns out that in practice museums not only communicate and strengthen the already developed senses, but also act as mediators – particularly where meaning is being negotiated and importance of historical memory is being agreed upon. These are new, once unimaginable roles of museums.
5. A museologist. An occupation, profession or vocation?
Professor Dorota Folga-Januszewska, President of the Polish National Committee of ICOM, the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów, Department of Graphics Theory, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
The presentation attempts to describe approach of a contemporary museologist to changes that rapidly occur in museums. Who are contemporary museologists? Do they inherit a luggage of the tradition of the profession? What is their role in the culture and in the society? How should they be educated? What role is played by museologists in a democratic, open and tolerant society? I will try to answer these questions, presenting issues grouped as follows:
- The history of the profession of over 2 thousand years old (the first records in Greek of the ethos and commitment of people responsible for "museoum", the notion of "curatores" in the Roman period and the Middle Ages; a museologist as a teacher of elites between the 16th and 19th centuries; a Polish museologist between the 19th an 21st century as a patriot, advisor and mediator).
- A museologist as a scholar, expert, practitioner, organizer, psychologist, sociologist, teacher, educator, conservator, involved citizen, economist, manager and politician. Methods of harmonization of tasks and the resulting difficulties (examples).
- The tree of the profession. Model of education – between a theory (studies) and practice (work for a museum). Poles of requirements: scientific studies and general entertainment; self-education and educating others; ethics and politics; economics and spiritual values; artistic/scientific experiment and pop culture; globalization (total) and distinctiveness (local).
- A museologist in a museum i.e. seriously about the specificity of the profession and frivolous definitions: syndrome of a wardrobe, transatlantic liner, theatre of many actors, Don Quixote, confessor, Mother Nature, the Ivory Tower, Jupiter kissing Ganymede (i.e. about the expertise).
- The requirements of a modern museum. Is true the assumption of the omnipotence of museologists? Can anyone work for a museum?
- What is the relationship between the competences and salary? Can museologists be rewarded i.e. vocation vs. reality.
The presentation attempts to describe approach of a contemporary museologist to changes that rapidly occur in museums. Who are contemporary museologists? Do they inherit a luggage of the tradition of the profession? What is their role in the culture and in the society? How should they be educated? What role is played by museologists in a democratic, open and tolerant society?
6. An artefact – between a crisis and the need for authenticity. Discovering the context
Professor Jan Święch, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Jagiellonian University
Museum as a forum for social dialogue is one of the categories of narrative using a "text" as an artefact. That is the essence of museology. Therefore, an exhibition as a basic work of museology is a specific form of a theatre in which authors of the screenplay assign roles to play to artefacts using their power to deliver content, functions, aesthetic enchantments, symbolic meanings and evidence of events and people. The whole metaphysical value of an artefact – its "spirit", "soul" – is associated with its originality. The original in a museum is what are relics of saints in a church. The entire ceremony and staffage without original artefacts would be a hoax – a painful experience for museum visitors.
Introducing of an artefact to a museum collection is a complex process. Errors committed in this regard limit usage of an artefact during museum events. However, lost message can be partially recovered through scientific procedures of interpretation.
Legal status of artefacts was very precisely defined by regulations of the Act on Museums of 1962. We could say that those regulations were a "perfect condition", which was at least a reference point during imperfect actions undertaken by museums in this respect. Subsequent attempts to change legal provisions rendered that reference point relative, so now even in the established museums we are not able to work out a pattern which would be underpinned by legislation.
The concern of protection of intangible heritage which has been raised and rightly subjected to extensive discussion, is in fact a great return to the deeply humanistic idea of museums as research institutions. As in most cases objects are an attribute of intangible heritage. It is a superficial collectors' practice if physicality and function of an artefact becomes a focal point, instead of its intangible context. So we have to make a choice: either we collect separately objects and elements of intangible heritage, or – following the Scandinavian countries – a choice of an artefact for a museum collection should be supplemented by a procedure of documenting its intangible context. We also need to consider how this procedure should be catalogued to make it a unified whole.
The digitization of collections is a splendid way to make them available to the public. It is important for marketing purposes of museums and allows to use collections for research and scientific work. During the great discussion and activities in this field regarding, among others the legal aspects, there is no deeper reflection on the starting point for these activities. I mean an artefact which is the starting point for all actions in this regard.
What does it mean that an artefact is authentic? Is authenticity still a value by itself? Or does an artefact become valuable when it is accompanied by a text and context? The presentation attempts to answer the question of what modern artefact is: whether we should see it as a referent of "ghosts", a myth can or as a source of knowledge and the object of study? The aim of the presentation is to analyse the current law regulating the status of artefacts and compare the statutory provisions and everyday life in museums. What is the role of artefacts exhibited, stored in a warehouse and used for research activities aimed at cataloguing and filing collections? Attention is also drown to the intangible heritage, which is also collected and presented by museums. In the latter regard the presentation summarizes new issues museologists have been confronted with as a result of common digitization and other changes aimed at widening access to culture and information about it.
Panel discussions – 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – 23 April 2015
Searching for meaning in reporting tables
Antoni Bartosz Ph.D., Director of the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków
The aim of the panel is to discuss the report "An inventory – Polish museums, museologists and artefacts" which was presented during the presentations session and in particular making a reference to a "map" of fundamental problems of Polish museums indicated in the referenced document as well as reflect on the methodologies used to collect data on museums, including research on museum visitors. Key questions during the panel refer to adequacy of museum data collection systems and reporting requirements. Further questions: Are the current requirements for reporting and project evaluation an efficient tool of cultural policy on both regional and national level? Is the information collection system coherent compared to multitude of methods and centres responsible for reporting? Why do different reporting methods for the same supervisors need to be used even by co-managed institutions. What type of systemic studies on museum visitors are carried out? What are their conclusions? Are they implemented in practice? How collected data is used by supervisors to evaluate and plan projects?
Reporting is a problem not only for museums but also for their supervisors. Both of them, though in different ways, struggle with the incompatibility of reporting criteria and the reality. The same discomfort is mentioned by statistics experts – they also see the gap between the obtained data and the reality. However, if the existing paradigm is not satisfactory to anyone, why are we still stuck at an impasse? As a response mentioned is the Act on Museums which includes its specific regulations. But aren't we using this argument because it is convenient to use it? After all, the Act needs some actions to change it. Reasonable changes should be implemented by both those who make reports and those who analyse them.
It will not be easy, because so far everyone complains about the area of their responsibility. There is no team work: museums – supervisors – statistical offices. By cooperation I don't mean filling out surveys or having consultation meetings, but a dialogue involving experts and decision-makers. And we need to admit that such dialogue is not being carried out. Which of the museums invites its supervisor for study visits? Which of the supervisors takes the time to recognize the work of museums in the field? Which statistical office is willing to closely diagnose the specific nature of museums? I know it is an exaggeration as we still have some good examples to share. But one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
The reason for this condition lays much deeper. Museums understand reporting not as providing information in the name of responsibility for public assets, but as a chore, while authorities understand it as unpleasant need to enforce the obligation. Parties of the reporting process are not bound by the community of thinking and exploration.
It is high time to get out of the mental and psychological limitations. I claim that if both, those who develop reports and analyse them dared to undertake a genuine cooperation, it would be possible to originate a beneficial process which instead of the current dominance of growth, would cause a qualitative development. A similar perspective would define really important goals to be achieved and it would create a real educational value. This process would be a revolution for everyone, it is true. However, if we want to find some meaning in the reporting tables, we should start this process. The Congress is an excellent opportunity for doing so. Therefore, let's not talk about the current paradigm deficits, but about how to define new paradigms. If we really want it and have good organization, we will be able to define the essence of things and to answer the question, how to know if we serve well those for whom we work.
In the pursuit of modernity: a creative adaptation or passive imitation?
An attempt to assess changes in Polish museums over the last two decades
Jarosław Gałęza, Director of the Opole Open-Air Museum of Rural Architecture, President of the Association of Open Air Museums in Poland
For many years, we talk about the need to update the formula of Polish museums. These changes actually take place, however, they have never been summarized. Has the modernization effort been well capitalized? Are all directions of “upgrades” appropriate? Which of them affect innovativeness, and which – paradoxically – detract from the museum experience, losing what is the best and worth of preserving in the idea of museums? Participants of the discussion will try to answer specific questions in the following areas:
(a) What, if any, is the impact on museums of institutions using exhibition means and having collecting policy?
(b) Whether and how did commercial aspects influence the development of Polish museums in the recent 20 years?
(c) How is developing the private sector of Polish museums – should activities taken by private supervisors be normalized by specific legislation? Can such regulations allow for commercialization of collections management in private museums?
(d) Where and how should be drawn the borderline for outsourcing (especially in such areas as exhibitions, publishing and science)?
(e) To what extent do cooperation between Polish museums increase social attractiveness of museums considered en bloc, and the offer they have? Which formal and legal regulations limit the program cooperation between museums, and which ones enable and stimulate it?
Due to different experiences and the nature of institutions the panellists represent, they have different approach to the basic question regarding "modernity" of Polish museums. Development of Polish museums taking place in recent years on numerous levels is not evaluated unambiguously either. The discussion will be held on the following issues:
- "modernity" is not a goal by itself – using of modern arsenal of technical capabilities seems to be obvious, but requires acceptance of challenges which stand behind it, however "creative adaptation" of modernity is also required.
- multimedia techniques used during museum exhibitions vs. museum artefact – should proportions be determined?
- "modern" actions have a special resonance in the context of open-air museums, which, due to their nature, are usually regarded as "non-modern" and even become a synonymous with stagnation and backwardness,
- "modernity" in museums include economic activities related to fund-raising, marketing, etc. which is important, especially for private museums and para-museum projects,
- "modern" museums are those which are "managed in a modern way" i.e. have high level of external funds acquired, but they also refer to their original form of the ancient Greek Museion, which was attended to meet people and talk.
Participants of the discussion will try to answer specific questions in the following areas:
- what, if any, is the impact on museums of institutions using exhibition means and having collecting policy?
- whether and how did commercial aspects influence the development of Polish museums in the recent 20 years?
- how is developing the private sector of Polish museums – should activities taken by private supervisors be normalized by specific legislation?
- where and how should be drawn the borderline for outsourcing (especially in such areas as exhibitions, publishing and science)?
- to what extent do cooperation between Polish museums increase social attractiveness of museums considered en bloc and the offer they have?
- which formal and legal regulations limit the program cooperation between museums, and which ones enable and stimulate it?
Locked potential for development or untapped opportunity?
A question of factors hindering and stimulating development of museums
Jarosław Suchan, Director of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź
The aim of the panel is to discuss the current system of formal and legal framework under which Polish museums operate – identification of factors which hamper operation and development, but also identification of those aspects which should not be changed. As a starting point for the discussion we will use results of surveys commissioned by the Polish National Committee of the ICOM and carried out in this regard in Polish museums. The panel intends in particular to confront points of view of museum supervisors and museologists. It will raise a question of where these parties recognize the opportunities and threats? Which of the current regulations impede effective collaboration? Are mainly financial issues a subject of a dispute? How should measurable rules for determining basic grants for museums be defined?
A new task, the same staff.
The Act on Museums in the light of the current museum practice
Paweł Jaskanis, Chairman of the Council on Museums, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Director of the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów.
The past decades confronted museologists with the need to find their way in the new era. The aim of the panel is to identify tasks developed for museologists in recent years and to discuss how museums should carry out these tasks. Participants in the discussion will jointly seek answers to the following questions:
(a) with regard to new tasks: What type of tasks did museums undertake in recent years? Are they consistent with the classical requirements which were formulated at the time of formation of museums, their tradition and when Polish museum system was designed in the first half of 1990’s? How do laws fit into the daily practice of the museum i.e. collecting of artefacts, management of artefacts (conservation conditions) and other exhibited items (the originals, replicas, copies, reconstructions, digital forms), including the use of audio and video creation, as well as functions dealing with popularization of heritage, education policy, scientific and research activity and social engagement of museums? Do Polish museums have collecting strategies? What factors influence the shape of action in this regard, with respect to the supervisor – museum relationship and cooperation between the institutions?
(b) with regard to the methods of completion of new tasks: Do competencies acquired by museologists in the course of their education and career development meet the needs of existing museums? Which qualifications of museologists nowadays appear to be the most important? In which areas can we talk about lacking competences? How have staff responsible for maintenance, operation and development of museums changed – what kind of skills and qualifications are the most needed? Representatives of what professional groups except for museologists are usually employed by museums?
(c) with regard to legal and formal regulations which determine management of museums: To what extent do applicable laws reinforce modern management rules of cultural institutions? Do requirements for organizational shape of museums determine effectiveness of their operation and provide an optimum balance of inputs and results? To what extent do regulations on advisory colleges, museum councils, museum boards and trust boards determine effectiveness of these bodies, making them an effective management tool? How consistent is law defining various areas of museum operations (not only aspects dealing with protection and promoting of heritage, but also those related to administration and management of museums – accounting, tax and financial aspects, staff management, buildings administration and outsourcing)?
The past decades confronted museologists with the need to find their way in the new era. The aim of the panel is to identify tasks developed for museologists in recent years and to discuss how museums should carry out these tasks. During the discussion, the participants will jointly seek answers to the following questions:
1. With regard to new tasks:
- what type of tasks did museums undertake in recent years?
- are they consistent with the classical requirements which were formulated at the time of formation of museums, their tradition and times when Polish museum system was designed in the first half of 1990's?
- how do laws fit into the daily practice of museums i.e. collecting of artefacts, management of artefacts (conservation conditions) and other exhibited items (the originals, replicas, copies, reconstructions, digital forms, audio-video creations), as well as functions dealing with popularization of heritage, education policy, scientific and research activity and social engagement of museums?
- do Polish museums have collecting strategies? what factors influence the shape of action in this regard, with respect to the supervisor – museum relationship and cooperation between the institutions?
2. With regard to the methods of completion of new tasks:
- do competences acquired by museologists in the course of their education and career development meet the needs of existing museums?
- which qualifications of museologists nowadays appear to be the most important?
- in which areas can we talk about lacking competences?
- how have staff responsible for maintenance, operation and development of museums changed – what kind of skills and qualifications are the most needed?
- representatives of what other professional groups except for museologists are usually employed by museums?
3. With regard to legal and formal regulations which determine management of museums:
- to what extent do applicable laws reinforce modern management rules of cultural institutions?
- do requirements for organizational shape of museums determine effectiveness of their operation and provide an optimum balance of inputs and results?
- to what extent do regulations on advisory colleges, museum councils, museum boards and trust boards determine effectiveness of these bodies, making them an efficient management tool?
- how consistent is law defining various areas of museum operations (not only aspects dealing with protection and promoting of heritage, but also those related to administration and management of museums – accounting, tax and financial aspects, staff management, buildings administration and outsourcing)?
According to the curator of the proposed panel discussion, its participants out of the matters proposed by the Programme Committee of the Congress, mainly chose those which point to the social position of museums and strongly affect the condition of a contemporary museologist. From the diversity of views it can be believed that within a single system of museum organisation diversified practices exist. The need for substantial amendments of that system has not been raised, but it seems to be clear that it is required to expand the rules on qualifications of the staff. The curator made a legislative proposal understanding expectations regarding supervision and intervention of the state over the poorly performed duties of supervisors related to their museums.
A map of new museum investments. What can we learn
about Polish museums from the current infrastructure investments?
Jacek Salwiński, Deputy Director for Science, Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.
Museums – seemingly a domain of evolutionary change and processes of long duration – over the past years have been not only a witness, but also a subject of rapid changes. New investments as in a lens focused problems common for domestic museums. The aim of the panel is on the one hand, to summarise the experience acquired by museologists during implementation of infrastructure projects, and on the other – an attempt to assess the effects of these implementations on the social and urban transformation processes. Thus, the following should be an important element of participants' discussion:
(a) readiness of museologists for challenges of new investments,
(b) assessment of symmetry and balance between monumental projects creating "new" museum spaces and revitalizing of "old" museums,
(c) evaluation of decision-making processes leading to new investments, which often neglect the will of museum managers and public consultation process,
(d) impact of new museum projects on formation of collective culture of remembrance and social education,
(e) discussion on practices used to determine costs of new infrastructure maintenance and regulatory environment governing conduct of investments.
Investments in museums also mean changes in current human resources or creating of teams from scratch. Do experience acquired during implementation of new investments allow positively verify the current system of museum staff training? One of the priorities of the discussion is to determine the key issue for Polish museologists referring to the role they should play in the process of building new museums (including new permanent and temporary exhibitions) as more and more often they are replaced in creative work (artistic and substantive aspects) by representatives of "design and production" companies.
In recent years, Polish museums are experiencing a period of prosperity resulting from the implementation of numerous investments. New museums are being established in facilities designed from scratch, but also existing buildings are being modernized and adapted to the requirements of modern museums. What is the evaluation of the new museum investment map in Poland?
Don't we too often perceive the museum boom only in the context of the Great Success of Museums? Often great investments make that museums are perceived only in the context of investments, equating museums with permanent exhibitions which are opened on the occasion of the completion of construction/modernization. Thus, museums are perceived in the public awareness and by decision-makers as more or less modern main exhibitions which (when they become obsolete) will sooner or later make museums lose foundations of their existence.
Modern museums are established by an open architectural competition for the design and its implementation. Thus, museologists are involved neither in the major part of the investment process nor almost the entire process of formation of museums. Due to these facts they are assigned only the role of administrators and users of the new space. In a longer perspective, it must bring negative consequences for a meaningful process of building museum staff which remain only a re-constructor of museum creations designed and constructed by external companies. Museums endeavour to build competent teams, but still they also participate in the pursuit of the requirements of the quickly developed museum infrastructure.
Decisions on construction/modernization of museums are made in a complicated relationship between supervisors of museums, their management and communities/social groups interested in the development/establishing of a museum. Often investment decisions result from a pulse having a political background or specific social and political context. Rarely it stems from a noble concern for existing and neglected heritage of the past.
Finally, it is worth to perceive new museum investments as an attempt to create a social and urban development environment and to give new impetus to the development of these investments. They are kind of a recipe for revitalization of a specific urban space. This new perception of the mission of museums requires a complete revision of thinking about the role and tasks of museums, both by museum supervisors and museum staff. Effective and professional management of strategic programs in museums should take into account maintenance costs of new infrastructure in a longer perspective and be the basis for each programmed museum investment.
Visitors – audience or actors co-creating museum experience?
Comments on changes determining reception of museums.
Michał Niezabitowski, Director of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, President of the Association of Polish Museologists
Social changes affect perception of museums, artefacts and museologists. How did visitors of Polish museums change over the last two decades? Key questions concern expectations, types, sensitivity, perception, but also social and demographic profile of visitors, etc. The aim of the panel is also to indicate how museums in Poland think about recipients of their actions, what is taken for granted and the standard for visitors and how do museologists perceive the role of visitors (a passive recipient or an actor co-creating museum experience). The same important question is: do Polish museums learn from their visitors, and how do they use this knowledge to further develop and profile their program.
Commonly established word to name museum audience is "visitors" – in the Polish language it means both a single individual as well as community. There is no reason to propose a change of this word, but it is necessary to reflect on its semantic content. Do we still have visitors in museums today? In the Polish language the word "to visit" is closely linked with the words "to see" and "to know". Today, a museum visitor does not want only to see and to know, they want to experience and participate in the narrative on art and heritage. Thus, today they are more participants, not visitors. To enter into the subject of the panel discussion, we need to reflect more generally. In the global scale we are experiencing a phenomenon of widespread computerization. It has brought a political system change – before our eyes capitalism becomes a thing of the past. Capital is not an asset of the universal value, ordering and regulating mechanisms in the world. Along with the capitalism also the political order called the parliamentary democracy is experiencing difficulties. Information is becoming to be an element of putting the order into the world, and a new society which is being developed, should be called an information society. This forces such a change in the human condition that we are talking today about the new anthropology. A new human deals with the technological and civilization progress very quickly, and the cost to pay for it is clearly visible and already described gap in interpersonal relationships. Psychologists are more often talking about a tore apart society in which an individual is lost. This new human is also a new visitor in museums. More and more often instead of intellectual cognition they choose sensual cognition. They expect that rapid access to information is their natural right. There is no doubt that the community of museums, not to lose contact with the public, must quickly adjust their offer to the needs of the changing audience. But do we understand well how this change affects our work for museums? How does a function of a museum exhibition, a book or a school class change and how does a way of cataloguing and taking inventory of our collections change? Today, exhibitions have become a platform for dialogue with visitors, who gradually cease to be passive spectators and are becoming participants of an interactive adventure, they are no longer merely passive recipients, and by participation in the creation they are becoming "actors" co-creating museum experience. Questions during the panel discussion should therefore deal with expectations, types of sensitivity, perception methods, but also with social and demographic profile of visitors. The aim of the panel is also to indicate how museums in Poland think (or do not think) about recipients of their actions, what is taken for granted and the standard for visitors and how do museologists perceive the role of visitors, what do Polish museums learn from their visitors, and how do they use this knowledge to further develop and profile their program.
Introductory dialogue – 9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – 24/04/2015
Museums and heritage management
Jan Carstensen Ph.D., President of the Association of European Open Air Museums,
Professor Jacek Purchla, Director of the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.
As the President of the Association of European Open Air Museums (AEOM), I speak on behalf of the approx. 100 large, national, open-air museums, comprising the pan-European network of specialists in the field of museology.
Museums of this kind have existed for over 120 years. The first open air museum was founded near Stockholm in Sweden. Since then, historic houses are preserved and displayed in museums of this kind as the most important part of their collections. But only in 1966, experts in this field from all over Europe gathered in Bokrijk in Belgium. The purpose of that meeting was to exchange information and ideas and share professional experience and expertise in three main areas: museums, museum professionals and artefacts. Since then, the said information exchange takes place every two years, during an international conference organised in different countries. Between the conferences there are organized workshops on various topics. The next conference will be held in Norway in 2015 and will deal with a question about the present and the future of open-air museums.
In the twentieth century, not only the tasks undertaken by museums expanded, but also over the last 100 years the structure of material culture has been a subject of significant change (mass production, globalization etc.). This means that we are now in the midst of a paradigm shift. The AEOM will address this issue in the context of academic exchange. The immediate conference will focus on the development of open-air museums in the perspective of the present. In recent years, museums have absorbed more and more contemporary history to their collections, linking the present with the past in new ways. As a result, the door to a different understanding of the relationship between open-air museums and people, society, nation and the state was opened.
This relationship between management of the heritage and open air museums consisting in preservation and evaluation of historical buildings is extremely interesting. In our museums visitors can see different types of buildings. Originally they were houses that have fallen victim to rapid industrialization and mechanization. Changes in the rural landscape, modernization, new forms of economy and new technologies caused great anxiety in the society. This idea spread throughout Europe. Currently, open air museums in Scandinavia also have begun to collect the twenty-first century buildings. But it is not just about what you see from outside, the interior is also important – people and objects in the buildings. As an example I can mention the "ZimmerWelten" project in the Detmolds museum (2000/2010), for the purposes of which they collected equipment and furniture of younger generations from the present day. But for the purposes of the tradition of tomorrow should not we take advantage of the competence of the present experts in other fields than museology or use it in a different way than we have done in the previous decades? Do we want people from outside of professional museology to participate in expanding our collections?
Management of cultural heritage resources becomes today a complex challenge for both public authorities and other entities. Heritage is not just the sum of artefacts preserved on a specific area. On the one hand, it has a symbolic layer associated with interpretation of the heritage as sanctity, but it is also a market product. Managing it also means to answer the questions about its availability and its consumers and it should be based on the social economy, not on overexploitation.
Cultural heritage is now a self-contained product or a component of other tangible and intangible products. They are usually associated with a particular place and have an economic dimension primarily at the local level, in the form of so-called territorial capital. The most often invoked relationship between the heritage and economy is tourism basing on the uniqueness of the place. Its development potential is difficult to measure, and as a public asset it is not competitive in consumption – it cannot be excluded from it.
Heritage is therefore a subject to specific processes which are interesting from the point of view of economy. Heritage may be a subject to market forces in various forms and aspects. The number and diversity of the participants of the game is increasing. Constituting a particular economic category, heritage is created by various aspects: political, economical and social. So it is also a generator of various kinds of social activities.
Analysis of the importance of heritage as the territorial capital should take into account its multiple dimensions and influence on different aspects: economy, society, environment and culture. A rapid increase of importance of intangible heritage has also become a characteristic trend of the recent years. It is also related to transition of societies from the need to explore new places to the need of searching for an identity of their own places.
Since cultural heritage belongs to all of us, its value is defined by its users. One of the fundamental questions related to the heritage is the question of who owns it, as well as who creates, interprets, protects and manages it. Gregory Ashworth rightly pointed out that while in case of artefacts there is an inherent contradiction between their protection and development, heritage is a function of place and an option of development !
The present world of museums relatively quickly responded to the changing reality. In Poland unprecedented possibilities to build modern museum infrastructure have appeared. "Temples of the Muses" opened to the public and to the use of their space for construction of social capital. The new narrative and forms of education, "production" of new myths, but also the ability to raise external funds, marketing and branding – these are the phenomena taking place despite the systemic barriers which throttle museums. It is also an evidence of a change taking place in our thinking about smart management of pro-developmental resources such as the heritage collected in museums.
Program presentation session (part 1) – 9:45 a.m. – 10.45 a.m. – 24/04/2015
1. Towards the museum of the future: opportunities and risks.
Everything is a museum1 – test of multiple mirrors
Paweł Jaskanis, Chairman of the Council on Museums, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Director of the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów.
Changing conditions of the civilization and the need for effective management require to define the relationship between museums and environments of their operation and to amend the Act on Museum of 1996. Equally important is to exercise comprehensive care of the resources and to reliably program and set stable relationships with supervisors and visitors omitting demotivating appearance of legal and financial discipline in favour of social efficiency. Museums are public assets, the same are all artefacts and museum staff members, and the effectiveness of museum management is expressed by the quality of care and offer to the public. Desideratum of museum commercialization belies its genotype which includes its public mission.
On a long list of issues which need addressing as soon as possible the following need mentioning: respecting of museum council's resolutions by museum supervisors performing supervisory activities and planing museum budgets and respecting museum director's rights to a management program for the time specified in the contract and adherence to other obligations contained in such a contract. Important for efficient management of museum collections, including assessment of the condition and value of artefacts, is increase of the intellectual discipline of museologists and defining of the role of conservators/restorers, engineers, educators, interpreters and historical re-enactors employed by museums. No need to explain why for the correct assessment of the assets value, volume of the specified-beneficiary subsidy and executive capabilities it is important to introduce management control into the relationship between museums and supervisors.
Increasing of efficiency should rely on reducing of the number of legal and financial regulations and on their constancy. Museologists should be invited by relevant authorities to contribute to the development programs and defining of indicators, and discussion on these issues allows the best selection of museums and clerical personnel. A crossed, legal supervision of three bodies: museum council, the Minister, the province governor should be the only form of response to the total ignorance of policy makers.
Museums – as well as the entireculture related area – have become a catalyst for "creative economy" and their further development depends on legislative normalization and applying of unadulterated economic rules. Accumulative nature of museums makes them distinct, so people working for them should demonstrate unique knowledge and professional ethics, cultural sensitivity and skills in building valuable relationships with visitors. Auratic nature of artefacts creates numerous mirrors, in which generations recognize their identity. The more mirrors, the more we can understand.
1Paraphrase of the Everything is poetry artistic manifesto's title by Edward Stachura of 1975.
The presentation discusses functions of modern museums as mentioned on Day1 during the presentation "Do museums need redefining?". Its purpose is to discuss – on the basis of critical analysis of activity currently being undertaken by museums – a panorama of opportunities and threats and to outline both desired directions of change, as well as those changes which museologists should avoid. Particular attention will be paid to broad social functions of museums.
2. Modern museums as an opportunity for regional and local development
Piotr Żuchowski, Secretary of State, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
As a result of the the decentralization of our country which took place in the late 1990's, most museums were transferred under supervision of local governments with counties or provinces acting as their founding bodies. The reform was made without proper cooperation between the national government and local governments which were overtaking the tasks of managing museums. In some instances, institutions of culture were transferred to local governments without due recognition of financial capacity of those governments which endangered current operation and prevented development of the transferred institutions. In several instances, inclusion of some museums in a specific local government structure did not take into account the specifics of the program or profile of the museum. Those decisions caused many additional problems that still evoke in the memory of museologist an echo of that unrest and distrust of any changes.
However, it should be noted that due to that change in the system, most museums become authentic local institutions affecting social life, and now also affecting conditions of economic development, in particular by participating in the creation of local or regional cultural tourism services and contribution to the development of leisure time management. It should also be emphasized that without decentralization and sharing of accountability for managing museums between the national and local governments during the economic crisis and destabilization of the conditions of the development which Poland experienced in the 1990's, probably maintaining of such a number of museums and their survival even in modest conditions would not have been possible. The attitude of museologists themselves is worth of appreciation as they persevered in their institutions and defended their existence with full dedication and determination, often enduring poverty and facing problems arising from the crisis.
Today, we are more and more aware of the role of a museum in local social and economic life. Therefore, it should be the subject of serious reflection and awareness of opportunities which are still not fully utilized by both museum managers and supervisors and in fact by representatives of all local and regional authorities. Probably, wherever maintenance of a museum clearly goes beyond financial capacity of a local government – usually in rural counties – transferring of a museum to other local government units should be considered. Such co-management should not be considered solely in terms of a lifeline thrown to museums, but it also should be an opportunity to re-define conditions of museums operation and development – including their participation in shaping of the social and economic development of local communities and regions.
We have to get used to the fact that at the present time it is natural to care for the preservation of heritage, for the condition of cultural institutions operating in the area, for the level of education pursued in the area of culture of remembrance, and that these activities are closely related to the social and economic condition of the the local community and the region. Therefore very important are: cooperation of museums during creation of local and regional development strategies, their active participation during creation of conditions for development of cultural capital of our own local community and the region, making an effort to skillfully combine protection of heritage resources with the economy in such a way that the use of those resources for the purposes of development contributed to the improvement of the welfare of citizens and the economic condition of municipalities, counties and provinces, while maintaining the essence and cultural or natural characteristics of the heritage. So understood development is also in the interest of museums themselves.
In the current situation the role of museum directors is also changing. New challenges that museums undertake require additional skills from their managers. The idea is that museums should optimally match the whole social and economic relations of their community, county, province, and become active actors and beneficiaries of the development policy carried out by local governments.
The time now is conducive to a new arrangement of relationships between museums and local governments to include museums (along with their resources and creative potential and respecting the independence and the specialized nature of museums) in the process of creation of conditions for the development based on culture and contributing to an efficient (also from the economic point of view) protection of the local and regional heritage, as well as to the management of this heritage.
Museums as entities focused on creation of humanistic education can be key partners for local authorities in the process of planning and implementation of human capital development policies aimed at raising public creativity and civic culture.
Another area where museums could be especially active and where rare competences of numerous of their employees could be used, is cultural tourism. This culture development area which is still underestimated in Poland should be treated as a special tourism offer aimed mainly at involvement of the society in the culture. Offers of this kind also promote locally and regionally diverse cultural and natural heritage of our country.
Partnerships with museums open up an opportunity for effective and profitable cooperation. Museums can be a stimulating factor and ensure sustainable development and initiate changes in various areas of social life. They are also responsible for region branding and significantly participate in determination of trends which are transformed into patterns of participation in culture. The aim of the presentation is to determine the boundary conditions for future operation of museums – indication of ways which will allow achievement of tangible benefits (in terms of image, social aspects and economic aspects) of a partnership with museums.
3. Museums in the world without history
Professor Jan Maria Piskorski, Department of European Comparative Studies, University of Szczecin
Traditional museums in the world knowing its history and having no troubles with its identity were intended to collect and display artefacts – mostly historical items (the older, the better). The contemporary world controlled by the memory that denies history with its natural sequence of causes and effects, the world rejecting absolutes and reluctant to traditional ethos needs a new type of museums. This does not mean that the old and proven forms of operating museums will disappear. But they do require a deep reflection, as some of them are generally causing more losses than profits. The first example of such museums are some of the Polish central museums that often resemble exhibitions of looted art, gardens of barbarians, not gods.
Contemporary Poland needs museums which are adequate to the place and time of our lives. In the world without history, as well as in the world of damaged intergenerational communication, modernity is manifested by skilful narrative: generally simple, concise and lively, yet penetrating and using contexts. Since the western culture does not exist outside of the history, it needs historical references, even in times of the historicity crisis. Museums, treasures of the past, through the stories based on expert analysis of the past which is the only proven bank of information, put signposts. There are many signposts and each of us can choose the way to take. Nevertheless, museums provide binder which combines individuals into a society and form a civilization buffer for the time of inevitable crises. Certainly nobody will excuse museums from broadly understood collecting of works of art, but also it cannot be their the only task, at least not here and not now, when the atomized world is almost groping the way of the inevitable globalization.
The presentation discusses the best practices to integrate local communities around museums and to form social bonds. A museum as part of a kind of harmony in public space may significantly shape relationships between both different social groups and citizens as well as authorities. Museums have a special role to play in societies such as Polish one, where they can consolidate social fabric, which was largely strained by the processes of rapid political and economic transformation. Presentation of national and international examples will facilitate finding answers to the question of how in the future museums can more effectively participate in development of civic, ethical or aesthetic standards in relation to various aspects of modern life.
Program presentation session (part 2) – 11:30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. – 24/04/2015
4. A modern museologist. What kind of staff do museums need?
Janusz Trupinda Ph.D., a curator of the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk, President of the Pomeranian Division of the Association of Polish Museologists
The basis to answer the question in the title is the current definition of a museum and definition of its tasks and place in the public space. Accurate definition of tasks for an institution allows to define competencies its employees need to demonstrate. Museums today are institutions that not only perform their core tasks i.e. maintain, develop and make available material culture artefacts. They are businesses performing tasks in the market economy, they are institutions operating in local communities and an important part of regional social programs. Thy build local identity, but also significantly promote tourism, preparing so called "tourist product". One of the basic criteria for evaluation of museums is their activity to acquire non-budgetary funds, and for this evaluation economic reasons are applied much more often then they used to be in the past. This requires redefining of the concept of a museologist.
This presentation will refer to the presentation delivered on the first day of the Congress titled "A museologist. An occupation, profession or vocation?" With the reference to that presentation we will answer the following questions:
- who can be a director of a museum and what should be criteria for their selection?
- what competences should high- and mid-level managing staff demonstrate?
- what can be expected from a first-line museologist?
- can any person employed in a museum be regarded as a museologist, or traditionally this concept is reserved for employees dealing with the core business or those having contact with artefacts?
- what should be the museologist education system?
- which competences of museologists should be strengthened in the future, especially in the context of formal and legal regulations and in the process of museum staff training?
A starting point for the presentation is a description of museologists' situations as a profession, based on the Day 1 meeting held in the context of the presentation "A museologist. An occupation, profession or vocation?". With regard to the outlined diagnosis there will be asked questions of what competences of museologists should be strengthened in the future, especially in the context of formal and legal regulations and in the process of museum staff training? What are the risks of maintaining the current system of training? Does the definition of museologists considering them as so-called core workers is reflected in the decisive trends for museums in the coming years? Should each person employed in a museum be called a museologist? What type of competence will staff responsible for operation and development of modern museums in the coming years need? Which tasks must be reserved exclusively for museologists, which can be carried out by specialists from other disciplines?
5. An artefact – an object found by chance?
Jarosław Suchan, Director of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź
Artefacts are – according to the essentially tautological definition – items collected by museums. As we know from the experience, in theory, any object can get to a museum collection, so everything is an artefact in potentia. If so, what defines and distinguishes this kind of items are not their specific characteristics, but the place assigned to them in the museum narrative. Therefore, is it necessary to assume that (contrary to what we are used to) museums are defined rather by a specific type of story they tell, not by any specific type of collected artefacts? So-called narrative museums established recently all over the world seem to confirm this assumption. Does this mean that artefacts are no longer needed and will be replaced by digital recording and stage set? Or have they still a significant role to play – and if so, what role is it? In other words, what is the extra value brought to a museum by the fact that an artefact is an object? Does simplifying of the artefact role to being a witness, document, track, illustration or example completes the catalogue of ways how it can be potentially used, or there are other possible ways of using artefacts? This presentation will attempt to answer the above questions. It will also include reflections on practical, formal and legal consequences of the adoption of new concepts of an artefact.
Artefacts less and less play functions of static witness of the past, and increasingly are becoming one of the many elements that make up the story at various levels of museum creations. Trends on conducting of exhibiting narration observed over the last years and challenges associated with collecting of artefacts make describing and normalization of the future attitude of museums towards artefacts – both in terms of showrooms and warehouse space – more and more important. On the one hand an artefact remains a witness, a subject of studies and hoarding of wealth, on the other – certainly important is the need to discover new possibilities of developing of influence made by artefacts (discovery, or rather restoration of missing ones – interactive story building methods using objects were yet well recognised by Izabella Czartoryska in Puławy and Bishop Jan Paweł Woronicz in the Kraków "historical offices"). The presentation also attempts to propose a description of the status of intangible heritage in museum practice of coming years. Particular attention in this context is paid to the results of the digitization process and the necessary changes associated with it – both in terms of the state cultural policy, managing individual institutions and formal aspects of protection of intellectual property rights.
6. The need for narration. An exhibition as a performative phenomenon of cognition and education
Professor Dariusz Kosinski, Department of Performance Studies, Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University
Broad public primarily perceives museums as an exhibition space which is visited more or less occasionally, often as part of a whole sequence of activities, arranged in a certain way. In the past, that space was a strictly theatrical, associated with the etymology of the word "theatre" (from the Greek "thea" – to see). An exhibition was the place to watch collected artefacts often isolated from each other and separated from viewers with showcase glass and "don't touch" signs. Sometimes this theatricality used to take the form of composed images trying more or less clumsily imitate theatre in the illusion that mannequins, stuffed animals, equipment arranged in a certain way allow to build a bridge between the experience that gave birth to the artefacts and the experience of viewers. However, usually this approach fails.
Today, the fundamental paradox of a museum as a space separated from reality and separating elements of the reality, while striving for their inclusion in the actual experience of viewers, is often solved with the help of a participatory activities: workshops, different classes, sometimes direct encouraging to contribute to the production of an artefact and/or related studies However, it seems that these attempts do not change the basic experience of an exhibition, consisting in watching untouchable artefacts. It seems that the major part of the viewers do not expect a radical change and their inclusion in the participation process. Therefore, there comes a question: how can museums become a space of prepared experience without giving up on their features and protection of heritage they accumulated? How (without losing the unique character of an artefact) can they build bridges between experience of viewers and experience of people who created and used those artefacts and who are a subject of the story told by the artefacts?
I would like to attempt to answer these questions making a reference to the contemporary performing arts and studies on the performance, believing that the reflection on the experience and memory made as a part of these arts and studies and practical ways to use processes which form them may become a source of inspiration for contemporary museums.
Exhibitions have always been the most important phenomenon of museum activity. The potential of expositions newly discovered today in Poland results from their narrative power to influence which draws its power from the performative and dramatized form. Exhibitions always have multitude of features and final creation is the result of long discussions on many levels. These features can turn a museum exhibition into an outstanding show involving various senses, while presenting a (verified through research) historical knowledge. The aim of the presentation is to outline the new developments in museum exhibition future. Particular attention will be paid to an analysis of the narration as a key potential, which will be critical for development of museums of tomorrow.
Panel discussions – 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – 24/04/2015
Museums response to different needs of diverse visitors.
Educational activities of museums
Marcin Szeląg Ph.D., Head of the Department of Education, National Museum in Poznań, Musumeum Educators' Forum
The panel discusses trends in museum education, indicating desirable directions of their development and identifying available currently good practices which are worth of following. Educational activity will be discussed in a broad perspective, far larger than the stereotypical image of a museum lesson, aimed to provide knowledge on artefacts and related history. The applied approach facilitates noticing of opportunities for museums related to involvement in social life, seeing in museums one of the essential foundations of civil society and emphasizing their importance as places defining common space allowing mutual understanding and building relationships. Discussed subjects apply to both protection and promotion of heritage and role of contemporary museums for communities in which they operate. These subjects are an attempt to answer questions about obligations lying with museums – what role are they to play in relation to tangible and intangible heritage, and what role are they to play in relation to the environment? How should museums be involved in the negotiation of values and meanings, easing of social tensions and co-creation of standards? What should be the relationship between the canon of historical knowledge provided by museums (in relation to the history of Poland and the world – with regard to social and political issues as well as the world of nature) and curricula offered by the general educational system? With regard to daily practice of museums there should also be asked a question about status of their educational activities as one of numerous aspects of museums' work dedicated to collecting, conservation and presentation of artefacts. How can museums (involving modern educational methods, including results of the digitization process) complement the existing offer providing a new quality which will facilitate creation of museums without barriers ensuring egalitarian access to the culture?
The panel discussion focuses on the social responsibility of museums understood as their commitment to what is important for the communities they serve. It covers the issues of locality associated with the identity of the place where museums operate, shaping of the narrative about the past by museums, attitudes and beliefs of viewers which are important not only to imagine the past, but also to understand the present. In this sense, the social dimension of museums connects to the activation of people living in their neighbourhood, and museum education is understood as an important factor of integration and emancipation.
Diversity of the community mosaic forming the society introduces to the discussion issues of the social responsibility of museums for the needs of the society members. Due to various reasons (education, age, social status, economic status, national origin, physical and mental abilities), not all members of social communities are regular museum visitors. Therefore, obligations museums owe to a broad spectrum of potential users mean that the accepted modes of communication and interpretation of cultural resources used by museums need to be reviewed. They also require reconsideration of the goals and methods of education practised by museums and require extending of educational strategies to include participatory solutions that transform a general model of knowledge transfer in the practice of the exchange of knowledge and experience between visitors and the museum. These changes also mean transformation of the museum education within the museum. In this regard, the panel refers to the results of the Report on the condition of museum education in Poland developed by the Museum Educators' Forum.
Using as an example the current situation of museums in Poland and abroad, the panel discussion focuses on how museums actions aimed directly at the audience are carried out, what is their educational, cognitive and integration potential and what are restrictions and threats experienced by museums. The panel addresses involving of the museum visitors into educational activities, exhibitions, collecting practices, documentation activities and research projects. It also deals with the potential of modern information and communication technologies, innovative management methods of cultural institutions, designing principles which contribute to the growth of public involvement in the activities of museums. It is also important to reflect on the guidelines for education of the museum staff responsible for the tasks addressed directly to museums visitors, what competencies and skills should museum staff be equipped with to use the educational potential of museums consciously.
A museum as a partner in action. A question about an efficient model of cooperation between a museum and its institutional, social and business environment
Longin Graczyk, the Ari Ari Foundation
Nowadays, you cannot succeed in isolation. Are museums interesting partners for public and private entities operating in their environment? What determines attractiveness of museums to their environment? In wide public perspective the panel discusses expectations for museums and identifies their strengths. Different perspectives – representatives of local authorities, third sector organizations, business community – allow to identify key directions of change, so that museums became even more attractive partner for cooperation. Questions raised during the discussion in particular refer to changes which should be made in relation to: (1) methods of reporting and evaluation of projects, so that they are an effective tool for coherent cultural policy on the regional and national level, (2) procedural tools allowing subsidising and effective implementation of common initiatives, and (3) solutions allowing for flexible and efficient cooperation of museums with public and private partners.
Nowadays, you cannot succeed in isolation. However, this does not mean that the mere fact of cooperation determines the success. To define benefits of cooperation with museums, we should discuss expectations for these institutions, identify their strengths and think over principles of their operation. Presentation of different perspectives – representatives of local authorities, third sector organizations, business community – will allow to identify changes which potentially can turn museums into attractive partners.
If any joint venture starts with identifying of directions, only the question about the purpose must lead to identification of a key issue – reasons for which museums start to cooperate with other entities:
- what expectations determine starting of the cooperation?
- what areas of operation should museums seek cooperation possibilities in? and what reasons make partners willing to get involved:
- what determines attractiveness of museums?
- what goals can partners achieve because of their cooperation with museums?
With the division of roles, involvement and selection of right tools, effective cooperation allows achieving of benefits by all parties. Are those premises confirmed by activities in which museums are co-involved? The question of the model of cooperation leads to consideration of the practice in action:
- how should museums define their goals?
- what should be changed to make them able better identify their own strengths/resources and communicate goals/motivations?
- what managerial changes should be made to turn museums into attractive partners?
- how much is currently collected data on the activities of museums useful for potential partners and does it contribute to the decision to cooperate?
and legal arrangements allowing for flexible cooperation with public and private partners:
- what regulatory changes will facilitate joint initiatives?
- what role is played by the local government and ministries to create conditions for effective cooperation of museums with their environment?
- what kind of changes in the Public-Private Partnership will be optimal for museums involving in this kind of projects?
- how should principles of cooperation with NGOs be regulated?
For our discussion important are also current limitations which still make the desirable model of cooperation rarely used. Why do partnerships involving museums use their potentials only in a limited way? Why sponsoring is still the most common form of cooperation with businesses?
A museologist – a curator, but also a manager. New tasks for museologists
and changes in training and promotion of museum staff
Professor Dorota Folga-Januszewska, President of the Polish National Committee of ICOM, the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów, Department of Graphics Theory, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Museology is increasingly becoming a profession with dual pattern of excellence. On the one hand, managerial approach is crucial. On the other hand, no success is possible without social and cultural competencies as well expertise. What changes should be implemented in the training system of museologists and their further professional development to allow museum staff better meet requirements they face? What standards of staff management should be used in modern museums? How should training standards of museum staff be determined – not only of museologists in the strict sense as defined in the current Act on Museums, but also of supporting staff? Should we stick to the narrow definition of a museologist as person participating in the core business of museums, or should it be broadened including new meanings? How should be defined rules of professional and scientific promotion of museologists and standards on their salaries? What changes of rules defining scientific development of museologists are necessary to enable them acquire experience in recording and cataloguing of artefacts and preparation of exhibitions?
Museology is increasingly becoming a profession with dual pattern of excellence. On the one hand, managerial approach is crucial, on the other, no success is possible without social and cultural competencies as well expertise. The goal of the panel is to discuss these issues and answer the questions: what changes should be implemented in the training system of museologists and their further professional development to allow museum staff better meet requirements they face? What standards of staff management should be used in modern museums? How should training standards of museum staff be determined – not only of museologists in the strict sense as defined in the current Act on Museums, but also of supporting staff? Should we stick to the narrow definition of a museologist as person participating in the core business of museums, or should it be broadened including new meanings? How should be defined rules of professional and scientific promotion of museologists and standards on their salaries? What changes of rules defining scientific development of museologists are necessary to enable them acquire experience in recording and cataloguing of artefacts and preparation of exhibitions?
As a result of discussing the major points and problems of the panel, the following questions need to be answered:
- who is a museologist today? who are we going to talk about?
- what (ideal) degree should a museologist get to meet modern expectations?
- what degree has/can have a young museologist in Poland when they start their job?
what is the relationship between the studies and the work practice?
- what should be the model, and what is the practice of selecting and coordinating of work of various kinds of museum staff?
what are promotion perspectives? what is the salary and what is the relationship of the salary and workload of a museologist?
- how do directors of multi-branch, distributed (branches) museums cope with their responsibilities, how do they employ their staff and how do they manage their staff? what problems do they have? what barriers do they experience? which informal solutions do they use?
- how do museologists in private museums work? what do directors require of themselves and their employees?
are there standards of work in private museums?
The panel will be closed with a conclusion discussision – what does it currently mean to work as a museologist? Is it a profession, mission, speciality?
Tools for museums of the future. What type of institutional
and legal solutions will be critical due to challenges facing Polish museums?
Stanisław Horoszko, Director of the Museum of Technology and Transport in Szczecin
The discussion aims to answer the question on what type of tools and legal solutions and in what type of areas of activity are essential for the development of Polish museums in the future. Assumptions will be formulated in the context of the state cultural policy and legal regulations setting forth rules for management of museums. Particular attention should be given to the following issues:
(a) with regard to the cultural policy of the state – (1) measurable rules for defining of specified-beneficiary subsidies and designated subsidies; (2) relationships between a museum and a supervisor; (3) evaluation systems and how they affect financing of museums; (4) solutions stimulating transfer of knowledge and experience between museums and ensuring their effective cooperation; (5) regulations ensuring implementation of the requirement on possibly the widest and most equal access to achievements of culture; (6) nationwide solutions allowing popularization of various types of museums (historical, nature, art museums, etc.);
(b) with regard to managing of museums – (1) methods for implementation of modern management practices appropriate for museums; (2) regulations on organizational structures to ensure efficiency and optimum ratio between investments and results of work; (3) the role of auxiliary bodies, with particular emphasis on trust boards, museum councils, program councils and thematic colleges of curators as a tool to strengthen effective management and programming work of museums (including appointment, make-up, competences and responsibilities of these bodies); (4) tools to increase access to achievements of culture, including a comprehensive policy for digitization; (5) solutions promoting coherent policy of purchasing and conservation of artefacts; (6) regulations concerning commercialization of museum functions and defining of the quality of outsourced solutions and services; (7) formal and legal solutions determining the rules for public-private partnership; (8) status of digital forms in relation to collection management principles; (9) rules for protection of intellectual rights, with particular emphasis on intangible heritage.
Discussed will be the points prepared by the panellists with a focus on the following issues:
1. With regard to the cultural policy of the state:
- the main question is how far should the state regulate standards for museum operation, and how far should it give free rein to museum supervisors,
- with regard to financing policy in museums we can discus standard elements of shaping specified-beneficiary subsidies,
- with regard to financing of museums reflection is required on the state's responsibility for museums seen in the perspective of the programs carried out by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and other ministers. Comparison of the number of submitted applications and the number of beneficiaries leads to the conclusion that often the number and value of subsidies is insufficient,
- is possible a broader and long-term cooperation of museums to create and popularize sectoral program offers? is it more an area of cooperation or competition?
- a museum for a penny or museum for free – is it possible only in case of public museums or in case of all of them?
- the museum – supervisor relationships are ones the most difficult to codify; what should be discussed in this regard is: should all of the recent amendments in the Act on organizing and conducting of cultural activities and museums be maintained? What should be changed?
- the state cultural policy issues are considered in terms of domestic policy – it should be considered to what extent a common European policy should be developed,
- the following issue also requires discussing: should museums located in the areas included into Poland in 1945 have developed a targeted cultural policy? maybe the eastern part of the country also requires special instruments?
2. with regard to managing of museums
- taking into account a long-standing experience, modern museums are not clearly defined; to what extent does "modernity" mean managerial flexibility with rigid organizational structure included in the statute agreed with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage?
- important is also the problem of implementing statutory tasks using museum own employees or external entities;
- the question of collective bodies in museums (e.g. museum councils) probably will not find a good solution; the basic problem boils down to a lack of accountability for the museum related activities of these bodies (except for trust boards); the responsibility rests on the director and any changes require changes throughout the public finance sector,
- the subject of huge concern is access to collections and their images, digitization and protection of intellectual property – in their opinion there is a clear discrepancy between the government and the involved communities.
Artefacts, space and multimedia. What determines attractiveness of museum experience?
Professor Piotr Zawojski, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice
The aim of the panel is to discuss patterns determining attractiveness of museum exhibitions. How in recent years has perception of artefacts (which until recently has been a central element affecting experience in a museum space) changed? What other aspects (replicas, copies, reconstructions, digital forms audio–video performances, scenery arrangements, interactive tools, narrative approach) determine and will determine attractiveness of museum's message? Which of them and why have been recognized by audience? In which direction should narrative museums, artefact based museums and museum of the place develop? What risks and opportunities are various types of museums facing, including specialist museums and museums actively pursuing scientific research grants?
The concept of an artefact seems to be a foundation of a museum as a historically determined cultural institution. Its definition clearly indicates that artefacts are movable and immovable properties owned by a museum. This perception of an artefact reflects what was the domain of the past when the materiality of collected objects was regarded as a sine qua non condition for development of museum collections.
This situation has changed during the times of dematerialization of artistic objects, which now (because of the digital technology) challenge the traditional understanding of an artefact. However, it was already manifested – it is enough to recall the famous "Les Immatériaux" exhibition prepared by Jean-François Lyotard at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1985. Cybermuseology as a practice and a kind of reflection on dematerialization of objects representing the digital art, virtual museums and the presence of traditional museums in the network is an issue relevant to the new situation of museums during the digital breakthrough.
More and more often interpenetrating spaces (the physical and virtual one) use wide range of media increasing the attractiveness of expositions and sometimes simply making certain exhibition concept possible. Multimedia dimension of a contemporary museum is as much a necessity, requirement of raising its attractiveness as an obviousness. A set of media techniques which can be used to arrange a museum space is now very wide: from visualization/sonification, the audio-visual content, interactive practices, to the computer simulations and creations. The question of how to use them in order to stimulate the audience and to create a new dimension to the operation of museums, for example, in the context of narrativisation and complex spatial arrangements, seems to be a major challenge faced by museologists today.
What is their role now? Besides the major task of choosing, selecting and collecting of artefacts, just as important, or perhaps even more important are arrangement, story telling and composition skills? The ability to "direct" museum events now seems an essential element of creation and presentation of collections in all types of museums, not only those exhibiting artistic artefacts.
Museums as a driver of regional development
Janusz Trupinda Ph.D., a curator of the Gdańsk History Museum, President of the Pomeranian Division of the Association of Polish Museologists
Investments in museum infrastructure are an opportunity to increase dynamics of regional development and to ensure its sustainability. The panel discusses a panorama of possible benefits associated with use of potential of domestic museums in individual regions and indicates rules for determining the role of museums in regional economic, social, promotion and tourism development policies. What changes should be taken by supervisors, investors and museologists? Individual directives deal with:
(a) with regard to analysis of patterns – (1) identification of good practices and factors determining the success of individual museum initiatives strengthening regions in terms of economy, tourism and image;
(b) with regard to the use of the existing potential – (1) rules for conducting of researches to identify preferred solutions; (2) practices linking museums offer with regional cultural, economic and tourism policies in order to strengthen tourism, education and business assets; (3) positioning and promotion of museums offer as an integral part of a region's image; (4) necessary legal changes defining scope of activities of local governments and museums and their interactions;
(c) with regard to investment policy principles – (1) solutions to settle new investments on a map of cultural and economic policy of regions and documents describing their strategic objectives, in order to align new investments with tourist, educational and business offers of regions; (2) methods of positioning and promoting of new offer as an integral element of regions' image; (3) methods for placement of new investments in the existing ecosystem of cultural institutions of regions in a manner not disturbing the existing balance and supporting of authentic pluralism; (4) role and conduct of a preparatory phase of new investments, including their target profiles, functional programs, financial models to guarantee sustainability of the budget and indicators for evaluation; (5) range of roles and nature of cooperation between parties involved in projects, i.e. investors, supervisors, museologists, organizations representing local and regional communities.
Virtually all museums in Poland are regional. They operate in local systems involving politics, business and local communities. These institutions are the huge potential of regions and regional communities, they are an opportunity to increase the dynamics of their development, as well as the drivers of tourism growth. The panel will discuss a panorama of possible benefits associated with use of potential of domestic museums in individual regions and it will indicate rules for determining the role of museums in regional economic, social, promotion and tourism development policies. The main goal of the panel and the basis for selection of the panellists is to confront theoretical assumptions with operating of museums and local governments.
The panel discussion will addressed the following issues:
- museums as drivers of economic development of regions – the presentation showing museums operating in local business networks and indicating potential and actual opportunities for stimulating of regional economy development by development of museums. We are seeking to answer a question of what needs to be changed in the approach of museum managers and supervisors to make good use of this potential,
- role of museums in the image of the destination. Based on international studies there will be presented the issue of recognition of destinations through the image of museums,
- museum as a basis of local identity. The core of the discussion will be a paraphrase of the Julian Fałat's words who, after settling in Bystra in the region of Silesia said: "They need me here for the good of my country" which we interpret as a museum needed for the good of the local community,
- there will be indicated a difficult path to such a perception of museums by both decision-makers (national and local governments) as well as potential customers. There will be presented good practices, developed forms of cooperation and unsuccessful and obsolete project. Conclusion – the success of each action can be guaranteed by properly selected people whose passion has been inspired.
- based on past experience of the marshal of the Podkarpackie Province there will be presented museums included in the strategy of the province. We will answer the question: is museum infrastructure worth of investing into? What are the expected benefits, and what are the dangers?
- a museum in a region from the point of view of the director of the Kielce Village Museum,
- a municipal museum or a museum in the city? The role of a museum in the cultural development strategy of the city of Lublin.