Consultations

Thank you for participation in public consultations. Pursuant to the “Public Consultation Regulations” they were completed on 23rd March 2015.

Collective information on the observations and opinions submitted during the public consultations on draft resolutions of the First Congress of Polish Museologists

As part of the preparatory work for the First Congress of Polish Museologists, which will be held on 23-25 April 2015 in Łódź, eight draft resolutions have been prepared. The drafts have been prepared by the Resolution Committee and approved by the Program Committee of the Congress.

In the period 2-23 March 2015 public consultations were held, during which opinions were gathered and remarks on the aforementioned draft resolutions. The consultations were conducted via a website (http://kongresmuzealnikow.pl/konsultacje/), where comments could be submitted under each of the eight draft resolutions. During the consultations 130 remarks and opinions were received to the draft resolutions, that were consistent with the regulations, made by 49 people. According to the regulations of consultations (available at: http://kongresmuzealnikow.pl/regulamin-konsultacji-spolecznych-projektow-uchwal-i-kongresu-muzealnikow-polskich/), the Resolution Committee and the Program Committee of the First Congress of Polish Museologists committed to submit a summary of the reported remarks and opinions. This information is shown below with a commentary on the development of the final resolutions, which have been developed basing on the analysis of the provided remarks.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 1:

Resolution No. 1 “on the essence of the museum, museum collections, the profession of a museologist and the supervisors of museum” was the draft that gathered the biggest number of comments.
In bulletpoint a. of the draft resolution, relating to the duties of the supervisor towards the museum, attention has been drawn to the need to provide state guarantees, understood as providing financial resources for the museum for acquisitions and maintenance of collections. The Resolution Committee and Programme Committee (hereinafter referred to as ZU and KP) have indicated that the existing law regulates this issue under the Museum Law of 21st November 1996.

The remarks indicated the need to add a provision of the collector activities of museums. The request was granted, however, in the opinion of ZU and KP, this idea is incorporated in the notion of protective/conservation measures taken by museums.

There was also some indication of a tendency to give priority to educational activities of a museum which in the opinion of the consultants, adversely affects the conservation and scientific activities of a museum. An incorrect picture of a museum was signalled (as a “leisure industry site”), which seems to be shared by local governments as the museum supervisors.
Bulletpoint b. of the draft resolution concerned issues of museum mission and managing it. An opinion was repeated (8% of all comments to the draft concerned) that the presented definition of a museum is unclear, which may leave a large freedom of interpretation. A need was indicated to further specify the requirements to be met by an institution to use the name “museum” and a possible threat from the many “semi-museum” institutions emerging recently. It was stressed that there is a need for museum actions to reduce the social disparities in access to culture and to cooperate with the supervisors, especially with local government, in building a positive image of a museum (e.g. based on the promotion of a region). ZU and KP indicated that the draft resolutions do not define concepts, but only remind of them and should be treated as guidelines. ZU and KP decided to replace the words “is a mediator” with “mediates”. On the other hand, it was agreed that it is necessary to implement museum certification, supplementing a draft resolution with an appropriate section which stresses the special rank and powers of the museums listed in the National Register of Museums.

A lot of doubts were raised about the legality of a collection (“A Museum holds custody of legally obtained exhibits and develops their collection”) – it was proposed to delete the word “legally” (26% of the comments on the draft concerned), arguing that a museum holds custody of all the objects in its collection, even if they include items of unknown provenance. It has been argued that it is impossible for a museum to acquire objects to the collection in an illegal manner. Nevertheless attention has been drawn to the consequence of including exhibits moved into the collections as a result of war operations and the need to also take care of such items (while striving to settle the legal issues of such exhibits). ZU and KP have not agreed to exclude the museums’ obligation of legal acquisition from the language of congress resolutions, supporting it with a need to adhere to global standards set by ICOM, and to pay attention to the moral aspect of creating museum collections. ZU and KP have however eventually made the decision to move the imperative on the legality of acquired collections to the draft resolution No. 4 on the need to adopt a coherent policy on the acquisition and protection of collections.

Other remarks to this bulletpoint referred to the order of provisions – this proposal was agreed with, and the passage was moved concerning care over the exhibitions held and development of collections to the second position in the draft resolution content.
Bulletpoint c. refers to the issue of exhibits/collections. A suggestion has been made during the consultations to add a provision that – as a public good or a private good made public they should be non-negotiable. A need has also been emphasised to develop a system of protection and current museum-specific conservation supervision in museums. ZU and KP stated that these issues are regulated by the Museum Law.

The last bulletpoint of the consulted draft resolution was dedicated to the professional group of museologists. Comments to the draft included a statement of a necessity to clarify this concept (34% of comments on the draft resolution), proposing adding the criterion of working with collections as a distinctive feature of the work of a museologist. According to the commentators, a museologist is a person employed at a post related to the core activity of a museum (32% of comments on this draft). A suggestion was also been made to sanction terms such as, for example a museum educator, which already exist in museum practice. In addition, there were remarks expressing concern about the actions that can lead to deregulation of the profession of a museologist and, as a result, the loss of prestige of the profession. ZU and KP agreed to the submitted remarks, supplementing the draft resolution with a sentence that a museologist is an individual directly involved in execution of the museum mission.

In the course of consultations attention has also been drawn to the high level of competence which must be present in a museologist and to the responsible nature of work in a museum (responsibility for collections, their protection, use, publishing and interpretation, which makes the museologists belong to a category of professionals creating and disseminating science), which should influence appropriate salary, at least at the level of the national average wage. This proposal regarding the provision of “decent salary/remuneration” of museologists, appears most often (8% of all comments submitted to this draft resolution). ZU and KP supplemented this draft resolution with the requested provision “at a level not lower than the national average wage”. This provision is consistently repeated in all resolutions which address the question of remuneration of museologists.

The reported remarks also indicated inadequacy of that bulletpoint of the resolution to the specifics of private museums. When answering, ZU and KP noted that a private museum is also a public museum since it makes its collections available to the public.

The comments also raised the topic of a museologist – a director who loses the status of a museologist at the time he or she takes the post of director of a museum. Negative reference has been made to the way the director is remunerated, which takes place according to the rules laid down by the supervisor, not according to the remuneration regulations of the institution he or she manages. After the discussion ZU and KP decided to supplement this bulletpoint with a provision of “the highest level of museology qualifications is expected of the museum directors appointed from among museologists with sufficient experience of working in the profession”. At the request of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage this provision has been extended with the words: “The highest level of museology qualifications is expected of the museum directors appointed from among persons who have sufficient experience of working in a museum or other institutions whose primary operation focuses in the area of ​​cultural heritage”.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 2:

Resolution No. 2 concerns the principles of economic security of a museum.
Remarks to the first bulletpoint suggested indicating benefits for society that arise from operation of museums. It has also been added that those benefits do not always have to be measurable. By a decision of ZU and KP word “measurable” was removed from that bulletpoint proposing the following wording: “it is necessary to make the public aware of the value of existence of museums and the benefits resulting from their activities for the development of the state and local communities”.

The subsequent item concerned the obligation of the founding bodies to ensure earmarked subsidy and restricted grants for the maintenance of public museums, as well as appropriate funds for other museums. Editing article 5 paragraph 4 item 1 of the act of 21st November 1996 on economic security of a museum was proposed in the resolution. The comments suggested expanding the text of the resolution by adding a provision that the framework of the statutory tasks includes acquisition and protection of museum collections. This provision has been added by ZU and KP.

In the consultation comments a proposal was also included of the Polish government’s need to establish permanent percentage in the budget (following the inflation indicators) for the museums. A need has been emphasized for the supervisors to provide museums with an earmarked subsidy and restricted grants that not only maintain the museums, but will also allow for the development of the institutions. Irregularities have been pointed out: museums accounting on the revenues; too low level of grants not allowing to cover fixed costs or to implement statutory tasks. It has been suggested to wave the condition of a museum making its own contribution and indicated that the earmarked grants must not replace subsidies. Another proposal was to consider a model of term-budget (for the duration of the term of office of a director), rather than annual, which works in other countries. It was also suggested to isolate a separate item on the financing of collection conservation. ZU and KP, referring to the submitted comments, supplemented the draft resolution with a desideratum not to reduce the level of funding of the existing institutions, due to their supervisor’s appointing of new cultural institutions.

Also in this resolution, because of presence of a statement “paying decent wages to persons providing work for the museum,” remarks advised further clarifying of the term as not lower than the national average. The request has been granted by ZU and KP by proper rewording of this and other draft resolutions which include the issues of salaries of museologists.
In addition, a need has been identified for consistency of the regulations issued by various ministries and assessment of the necessity to apply them in museums. There has also been a request to enable founders of private museums to use the public funds (pursuant to Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers for member states on the legal status of NGOs in Europe). ZU and KP emphasised that any museum that meets certain standards can be entered into the National Register of Museums, which will considerable facilitate its use of public funds. ZU and KP added a provision to the draft resolution that the priority in the access to earmarked funds created by the state and local governments for realisation of specific tasks by museums, should be given to the institutions enlisted in the National Register of Museums.

With regards to the liability of the management and staff for the financial security of a museum, some of the consultants (12% of the remarks made to this draft) was of the opinion that the staff cannot bear the financial responsibility, as they do not make financial decisions without consulting them with senior management. However, this provision has also gained positive reviews (“The emphasis is valuable that the responsibility for the economic security of the museums is both with the managements and staff as well as central and local authorities”). In the case of this bulletpoint ZU and KP commented on the remarks referring to the existing management control standards applicable to the public museums, which show that a director is not arbitrary in disposing of the finances.

With regard to the submitted comments, ZU and KP decided to supplement this resolution with a proposal to grant museums with a status of a public benefit organisation, which will allow to benefit from a the 1% deduction from the income tax (PIT).

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 3:

UResolution No. 3 concerns principles of career and scientific progression and the museum staff pay.
The submitted comments suggested editing the preamble of the resolution, in order to make it more clear to read. The proposal was agreed with by ZU and KP, who also edited the title of the resolution itself.

In comments submitted in the course of consultations an consensus was reached on the idea of applying for granting scientific degrees based on achievements arising in connection with the work performed (e.g. directories of collections and exhibitions), a need was shown at the same time to create the right conditions to apply for degrees by the management of the museum. It was noted that a scientific promotion should be reflected in higher wages, as well as a request was posted to change the regulations concerning the amount of allowances for a PhD and postdoctoral titles that are currently too low. It was also stated that the principles of career progression should be clear and applied by the management of a museum.

In the context of upgrading the competences of museum staff, the need was perceived to create specific measures for this purpose (e.g. funds) as the only option for many museologists to participate in training and courses. It was noted that older individuals should not be excluded from the training programs.
An observation has been made that despite obliging the directors to supplement their qualification in the field of museology and management in culture, if they do not have such competences, in practice, this provision is not always fulfilled.

Also on the occasion of the consultations a lot of remarks were submitted to this draft resolution (59% of all remarks submitted to this draft) with regard to the term of “decent wage/remuneration” and the proposal of appealing for a significant increase of the level of employee wages by 30%. The concept of “decent wage” has been considered imprecise, most often with an appeal to equalise the salaries up to the national average wage or to propose a systemic solution, so that the museologists were remunerated at a level similar to this of educational and scientific institution staff. The system of remunerating a museum director was highlighted again (according to principles set by a supervisor, not according to the rules of remuneration for the institution he or she manages). In response to these comments, ZU and KP decided to retain the appeal for raising the level of employees’ salaries by 30%, but with an assumption that the level of remuneration will reach in the subsequent years an amount not lower than the average wage in Poland. A bulletpoint was also added stating that career promotion and the earned degrees should be linked to the increase in salary.

There were also some remarks stating that the lack of clear and objective principles determining wage construction results in a situation where the director gained a chance of an unrestricted and discretionary shaping of remuneration of staff employed in the museum. It was proposed that the draft resolutions should comment on the slight differences in the remuneration of persons with significant professional experience or with scientific degrees and those just starting their work at a museum.

Attention has been drawn to the situation of workers approaching retirement, calling for particularly high salary increases for them. With regard to an appeal to the Minister of Finance for the abolition of the wage fund limits and limiting wage growth in museums, emphasis has been put on determining the lower limit of salaries and the fact that (according to the current Regulation of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage on wages) the minimum wages in museums are considerably below the effective minimum wage.

The commentators approved of the provision in the draft resolution to reinstate the position of a senior assistant and senior curator. The current wording of the Museum Law was commented as absurd and leading to a situation when young person without the experience becomes a curator. However a remark appeared that a return to the principles effective before 2008, regarding the internship at particular posts, is not possible because at that time it was not possible to work as an assistant without a master’s degree (with bachelor title only). The deregulation bill was commented, concerning, among others, reducing the duration of internships qualifying to keep certain posts as unacceptable and driving at reducing the prestige of the profession.
It was noted that career path optimization is present in other countries, and it works well. The consultants recognized the value of an idea incorporated in the draft resolution of ​​creating a scholarship fund intended for complementing professional education of museologists.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 4:

Resolution no. 4 concerns the need for adopting a coherent policy on the acquisition and protection of collections.

At the request of commentators, arguing that acquiring collections without ensuring proper storage conditions and appropriate (legally guaranteed) funds for their maintenance is wrong, ZU and KP expanded title of the resolution with the term “protection” (“the need for adoption of a coherent policy on the acquisition and protection of collections”). Due to the disparity between the quantity of the exhibits stored in Polish museums, and the space and technical standard of the collection storerooms that the museums have, the resolution was supplemented with an appeal to the supervisors to allocate appropriate funds for systematic and systemic modernization and development of storage facilities.

ZU and KP decided to highlight in bulletpoint 1 the issue of ethical aspect of development of the collections (this provision was earlier included in the draft resolution No. 1 on the essence of the museum, museum collections, the profession of a museologist and the supervisors of museum). It was decided to add in this bulletpoint a provision to establish the priority of applications for procurement to complement the existing collections.

The submitted comments included remarks that the resolution may be useless, because the quality of a collection depends on the experience of the museologists. It was pointed out that not all museums (e.g. multi-department) can focus on developing a single collection.

Nevertheless there were voices of support for development of a program for collection acquisition and implementation of financial guarantees for a bigger number of institutions. Doubts were raised however by the provision about the need to submit the policy of collection acquisition in a form of a document, for approval by the museum board.

The problem of financing museums was also noted, whose collection is largely virtual.
It was agreed that it is necessary to determine the level of the restricted grant for the procurement of exhibits (suggested minimum of 5% of the annual earmarked subsidy granted in public museums or appropriate funds in other museums).

Attention has been drawn to the need to edit the demands in the draft resolution appropriately to the needs of private museums as well. This and similar requests have been answered by ZU and KP analysing the comments on the draft resolution No. 2 on the economic security of a museum that any museum that meets certain standards can be entered into the National Register of Museums, which will facilitate the use of public funds.
According to the consultants of the draft, particular importance lies with the provision on the necessity to make changes or additions to the law, which will establish conditions, in particular financial ones, for proper and rapid response of the museums to the emerging possibilities of obtaining objects needed for better fulfilment of their mission. ZU and KP agreed with these opinions, which was reflected in the edited bulletpoint 1 of the draft resolution. The bulletpoint concerning the funds of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for the development of museum collections was complemented with a demand to implement the principle of intervention purchases.

In terms of funding assigned for the development of museum collections that have been created by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, there are opinions that for most domestic museums building up collections is not a priority. It was suggested that this bulletpoint should be supplemented as follows: “certain requirements should be abolished which restrict the activities of museums with regard to the development of collections with the use of ministerial funds earmarked for this purpose, namely the imposition of conditions of exposure or the procured works or setting a high level of own contribution.”

Considerable doubts (54% of the comments submitted about this draft) raised the bulletpoint on increasing the competences of museum directors with regard to deaccession of exhibits. In the opinion of the commenters the proposed changes to the law that will provide the directors of museums with more competences on exhibit deaccession pose multiple risks. Some comments agreed with the proposal of extension of the powers of directors on the selection of collections, provided that the director is an expert and has expert advisors, while objection was expressed in case the director’s decisions were to be based on his or her “taste”. It was noted that increased powers of the directors in terms of deaccession of museum exhibits poses a risk of arbitrariness in actions and contradicts the first bulletpoint of the resolution and the mission of the museum as set out in the draft resolution No. 1. Attention was also drawn to the fact that museum collections are built up over years and taste as well as evaluation of works of art sometimes change.

In connection with the opinions submitted on this issue, ZU and KP decided to supplement the provision of the draft resolution with the wording: “clarify the principles for deaccession of museum exhibits”.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 5:

Resolution No. 5 “on the need of support from state institutions for the digitization process of the Polish museums collections and social sharing the results of digitization”
The comments and opinions to this resolution expressed doubts whether digitization of the collections really is a priority or whether more importance is maybe with the funds for the purchase of exhibits, wages and training for museologies. On the other hand, comments appeared at the same time that the issues raised in the resolution should be treated with absolute priority. It was emphasized, however, that making digitization of museum collections a priority in the long-term government and local government operational programs and in social and economic development programs, should not be at the expense of financing conservation care over the originals. ZU and KP underlined that this issue has been addressed in the draft resolution. In addition, the problem of maintaining a balance between digitization and other tasks of the museum is included in the justification of the resolution.

The comments received also indicated that for many institutions a significant issue becomes to maintain the hardware and software infrastructure after a project is completed, therefore consideration should be given to how to protect the completed projects, so as not to lose the results. A question was also raised about the definition of funds from which these projects are to be implemented. ZU and KP have pointed out that these issues have been addressed in the draft resolution, so they do not require correction.

The submitted remarks also included a concern of losing control by the institution on the form of communication and information on their own collection. According ZU and KP, however, this problem has been addressed in the draft resolution and does not require correction.

It was proposed to edit the first item of the resolution: “Ensuring an open access to the digital museum collections along with related metadata and it should be a financial priority in the long-term government and local government operational programs and in the social and development programs,”. ZU and KP acknowledged, however, that it is unfounded because such edition does not change the contents of the current provision.

It was also noted that a forced introduction of digitization program should be avoided in museum whose collections are already fully digitized, but it should only be made possible to introduce them into the public domain, or to a uniform program of on-line presentation of collections. Instead, smaller museums should be supported in the process of digitization. Obliging museums to perform data migration was also suggested. ZU and KP indicated that these issues have been addressed in the draft resolution. The draft resolution does not provide for “forced” activities and takes into consideration the needs of the entire museum sector.

It was agreed that the process of digitization of collections should be accompanied by principles clearly formulated by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for the acquisition of copyrights of objects that can be found in Polish museums. ZU and KP found that remark justified, adding that this issue has been included in the draft resolution.
A bulletpoint was proposed to the resolution: “Public authorities and museums accept that digital images of museum exhibits are not a separate subject to copyright. Digital images of the exhibits in the public domain are available with no additional license restrictions in accordance with the recommendations of the COMMUNIA network and OpenGL standard. – Public authorities and museums implement a policy to improve the copyright availability of digital images of museum objects through the use of free licenses and a clear marking of the public domain.” ZU and KP considered this proposal as unfounded and pointed out that the issue is a matter of controversy that accompanied the work on the project of implementation of the so-called re-use directive and it should not be decided under a Congress resolution in a way that is potentially unfavourable for the museum sector.

In addition, it was pointed out that the digitization can be treated as an investment for museums and perhaps it should be noted at this stage that the effects of the digitisation projects executed by museums with the costs (including of the Ministry or the supervisor) can be or should be made available for commercial purposes under prescribed conditions.
ZU and KP found that remark justified, stressing however that this issue has been included in the draft resolution. Legal regulations have been devoted to this issue, prepared under the work on the project to implement the abovementioned re-use directive.

A remark was also submitted that the draft of this resolution was prepared by NIMOZ and this information should be announced. ZU and KP decided that this remark is unfounded because the Congress Program Committee is the body performing the final edition of the draft resolutions and recommending them to the First Congress of Polish Museologists.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 6:

Resolution No. 6 “on the need to develop policies to support the museum tasks by social organizations and individuals acting in their environment”.
One of the comments was a reflection on the provision included in the preamble to the draft resolution concerning volunteering, which, according to the commenter, is a less preferred option for both the employee and the institution than, for example internship. The remuneration of a working person is beneficial for both parties as an employee who is paid feels more attached to the institution.

Regarding the development of a program to encourage pro-museum social activities, under the programs from the Ministry of Culture, it was noted that it would be beneficial to introduce tax deductions for donations, both permanent and earmarked, for individuals and businesses, pointing to the model systems developed in the USA, UK or France. Such legal solution would allow to intensify cooperation between museums and benefactors.

It was suggested that the public institutions of culture and art should have a permanent program base in the public media, like the sports programs, while additionally exhibitions or museum collections should have a status that will give them access to the public media (free of charge information in public media). ZU and KP regarded this remark to be well founded and particularly important, therefore a decision has been made to include an additional bulletpoint in the draft resolution, containing an appeal to the public media to “inform about the activities of registered museums to the extent wider than at present and thus to fulfil the public service mission as their statutory obligation”.

In the reported remarks, in addition to the support for this resolution and expectations of transforming it to systemic changes, high hopes are associated with the social activity initiated or co-initiated by the museum environment (mainly in the areas of innovative social technologies, not necessarily focused on marketing efforts but rather around civic participation).
The comments to the bulletpoint concerning the creation of a program (as a part of the Ministry’s programs) of professional and museum-related self-government, which would aim to strengthen the professional activity, scientific creativity, social entrepreneurship of the museums, included a call for clarification of the term of social entrepreneurship of the museums. ZU and KP acknowledged, however, that the term is clearly and commonly used, and therefore it does not require additional explanation.

It was suggested that for the implementation of the objectives outlined in the bill it is not formulated demands that are most important, but an indication of constraints (legal, economic) that do not allow to take full advantage of the possibilities already created. Equally important are the ways to enforce the elimination of these restrictions (e.g. by developing a network of professionals working for all the museums in the country).

Regarding the bulletpoint concerning the need to refine the systemic participation of social organizations representing the museums and museologists towards strengthening their powers, inter alia, in the evaluation and creation of heritage protection strategies, a suggestion was made to add a proposal to develop a system that allows for a greater integration of social organizations dealing with the protection of historical objects, conservation or research on the national heritage with the museum institutions and organizations representing museums and museologists. That would allow for a quicker exchange of knowledge between these environments and identifying research needs for the scientific community.

There were doubts about the provision on the participation of civic (social) organizations representing museums and museologists in the process of election of a museum management due to the sole one-person responsibility of the director, which is joined to the one-person taking of decisions.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 7:

Resolution No. 7 “on the museum collections that are lost and displaced within the borders of contemporary Poland”.

The comments to the draft resolution contained doubts about the practical implementation of the demands of calling the supervisors, managements of museums, museologists to merge historical museum collections, including funding adequate research, documentation and knowledge exchange.

Referring to the content of the consulted draft resolution No. 7 it was proposed again to remove from the resolution No. 1 (bulletpoint b) the unnecessary – according to the consultant – provision about the legality of the acquired exhibits. ZU and KP replied to this desideratum in the draft resolution No. 4 on the need for a coherent policy on the acquisition and protection of collections, as well as on the issue of increasing the competencies of the directors to deaccession.

The comments suggested that this resolution should emphasise the mission of museums in restoring awareness of Poles of the role and importance of different cultural influences arising from the fact that artists of many nationalities worked and created in the former Polish territories. Art dislocation caused by political events can become an excuse for that. In addition, the free movement of artistic ideas (present and past) should be reflected in the collections and art research conducted in museums. ZU and KP recognized that this remark is too general in nature and, in spite of its correctness, it cannot be included in the draft resolution as a proposal or demand.

In addition, ZU and KP decided it is necessary to emphasize in the draft resolution that destruction caused by the occupants, of both whole collections and individual exhibits, was targeted, which was reflected in the final edition of the draft.

Collective information on the draft resolution No. 8:

Resolution No. 8 “on museum collections developed in whole or in part after 1944 as a result of land reform and the nationalization of land property”.

Only two comments to this draft resolution were submitted. It was suggested to consider in future the issues of collections after 1939 and passing a fund to buy the historical objects from their legitimate owners. ZU and KP considered these comments as guidelines for post-congress actions, and the proposal for passing a fund for the procurement of the historical objects was reflected in the red thread running through a draft resolution (“Compensation for victims of the nationalization as the condition to stabilize the ownership status of historical collections, maintain their integrity and public availability”).