Small and Medium Museums Thriving on Digital

With fewer visitors at premises and always a shortage of resources – budgetary, human, technological- is it possible for small and medium museums to not just survive but thrive?
We’ll discuss opportunities brought to the forefront by digital with Spanish and Latin American museums, review some of the best practices of that museums and identify the biggest challenges ahead of us.

We will also explain REMED, an international museums network created during lockdown to help Spanish speaking professionals with the accelerated implementation of digital strategies. Track:Latin America


Museum Computer Network 11:18
Good afternoon witness. What is better this everyone? I'm here today with concerto that and Anna Marty and the topic of this session is small and medium museums thriving on digital. And rather than me introducing I'm just going to ask the Khan chat to introduce and present herself first and and then she'll introduce Anna.

Unknown Speaker 11:46
Hello, everybody. I'm delighted to be here. Thank you for having me. I've been working my whole professional life in in culture with cultural cultural organizations. I was for five years head of digital projects at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. And until 2019, I was head of strategy, innovation and digital transformation in the National Museum of Art of Catalonia also in Barcelona. Now we're more and more dedicated to those sensei with several universities. For example, I'm the co director of the post graduate on digital strategy for cultural organizations that we run together between the National Museum and the university. And then connected also with with remix this network of museums and digital strategy together with Anna and we will talk a little bit more about it later. My connection or my relationship with museums in America has been mainly through the deeper foundation, that theory theory and practice for the arts, based in winter ciders. They run. They're a very interesting training program for museum professionals. Not just Argentinean museums, but museums from all Latin America. And I've been at those cents for several years there and now through remit where we have MANY members from from South America, we we have a closer connection that Anna will talk more about about immaturely return on Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 13:37
Hello, everyone. Thank you contact for a also chairing this session with me and Eric for presenting us and I'm very happy to be at this MCL program and half collaborate to create this Latin American Day, which is important. I think Latin America and Spanish museums need to be shown. And it's important for us to have what is happening in those countries. I am Professor of the you know Polytechnical University of Valencia in Spain, and I am researcher in the Institute of Design and Manufacturing. As a researcher I'm a specialize in museography dot 4.0 which is what we've called museography 4.0 is coming for the fourth industrial revolution and when we use for example mix reality artificial intelligence transmit yet cetera to have a more natural speed nor natural experience within the museum with the digital data. But apart from that, this is my research background. I'm also the co director of remit together with our four Munoz primary Sun network especially created to help resumes with digital strategies for professionals that speak Spanish for from Spain and Latin America. This network was created during the lockdown and also for me it grow a conference that we did last March 2000 and 21st. And this conference is called female. And now for me it is a privilege to share with you here and to announce that next conference we will also go direct by conserva we both are going to direct this conference of fat for days. He read event in that will take place in October 2022 which we will talk later on and explain a little bit more what our future plans for this conference is. So yes, it's hit moment now to telling you that contest when are you sharing this direction of this event with us?

Museum Computer Network 16:01
That's great. Thank you and just for the record actually marked up another who is one of our volunteers who was here at then I think she's in the session today was a volunteer with us last year introduced me to AMA after the conference last year and then told me how she had created this network of Spanish speaking museum technologist and it just grew like like wildfire, which I thought was really great. So here talking with us this morning like you know, we want to explore what are the opportunities for small and medium size institution with fewer visitors as a result of the pandemic? And of course a always a constraint and shortage of resources for you know any small what you know what is it possible for those medium and small sized institutions, not just to survive, but to thrive?

Unknown Speaker 16:54
Okay, well, the COVID has certainly been excruciating for MANY for MANY people, MANY, MANY companies, MANY museums, but as in all crisis, there are some learnings from out from it. I will highlight two lessons regarding digital in museums. I think that finally museums have learned that digital is everyone's job is not just one person or one department anymore is everyone's job in the museum all need to be digital able only to have some level of digital literacy. And another another learning has been that the digital dimension is a transversal reaches everything. Digital, pervades the whole museum. All we do is not anymore. It cannot be anymore an afterthought. We have to integrate digital from the very beginning of the projects, not just think of digital as a communication channel, which of course it is, but it's much more than than that. So we need to integrate digital from the very beginning. And in this new scenario is see some trends in museums or in cultural organizations in general. For example, that digital and physical will remain together forever after virtuality and physicality will reinforce each other. It already was so but it will be more from now on. And we have hybrid events, hybrid services, hybrid learning offerings that are here to stay. And I also think that there will be a greater social commitment by museums and museums are not neutral or cannot be neutral. And small museums can probably react in a more agile and quick way to conflicts. Museums really need to be open and to shift to address social issues such as racism, gender violence, migrations, etc. and museums can really help people with health issues and with mindfulness. There is a scientific evidence that arts help people's welfare. There is an international movement about Arts in Health. And MANY museums are starting to develop some initiatives in that sense, and I think there is an opportunity here also for small museums. And lastly, I would like to commend that I think we will see a renewed focus on the community. Small museums have always been nearer to their communities than larger ones. On this post pandemic context, this will be even more crucial and we need to be closer to our communities to better serve them in small museums are very good at that.

Unknown Speaker 20:31
Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. And also speaking from the point of view of the remain museum given seems that our entitlement there's this perception as well remain the sort of mostly component by small and medium museums at the center of our associates are working in small and medium museums. I wanted to share with you a screen or slide also where we speak a little bit more of what the situation in Latin America is for remember the associates. So there may have started in spring in March 2020. And we wanted to collect data from these machines but afterwards, we realize that they really necessity of the museum's that what they will really need is training. They have a very lot of things to be learned, especially regarding digital strategies. And because some museums that already had this digital strategy, they were quite okay with it. Lockdown, but the ones that all didn't have any they weren't like trying to survive and this is quite important. So today we are 900 nearly 900 Associates we are most from all around the globe, mostly from Spain. Our most of our associates are from Spain, but we also have some MANY associates from Latin America and North America is speaking Spanish, the Spanish speaking professionals that working there. So as you see here, especially the network what is really important to understand is that is composed by three main parts which is professionals of museums, but also researchers from universities and companies. So we put together that three pieces of the puzzle and this is what makes the remit to exist and that what really makes some sense from it. Especially speaking about Latin America. We have from MANY different countries, so associates from MANY different countries of Latin America, mostly from, as you see here, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia because obviously they are bigger countries, but also from rusty Olivia Are you a Chili Chili Salvador, Costa Rica, Koba, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay or ProPublica Dominicana remains continually growing a routine. We did have different stock here. We have different associates and we started to talk with them assumed about the final image we called, which is a meeting point for professionals to talk about what the situation means. So what we saw is in this Friday remain Vietnam remain that good call is that the profession, the profile of the museum professionals is not very technological at all. They're the professionals that are working inside museums they got in 10 years ago. 20 years ago, they don't have digital skills. So they need to be trained. And there's a big gap in there for remote to make this collaboration and try them to realize what the new pollutions could be. So we have made some online meetings talking about digitalization of collections, B 22, or social net health to use social network like in videos, or when reality or video games for example, and from that we get goods into this preparing this conference of the mail that soon the

Unknown Speaker 24:37
the all the papers from the conference will be out in a book so you can read what is happening there. Some of them are in English apart of the Buddha's in English, and also VZ is in Spanish. So talking about what the challenge is for small machines that are most of our associates from remain, what is important for them, how they can survive. I I do think that we have this similarities with the small and big companies not like the small machines have the possibility of be more agile, as contrasted to fail to make mistakes to experiment to they can react easily instead of a big company. Big museums for example. Big museums, of course have more bureaucracy, more control. Of everything. They have different layers of control. They also have more media and resources. Of course they have more opportunities to collaborate with the companies for example, or to be out in the media. But sometimes we have to look at what the advantages for small museums are. Small Muslims are closer to the audiences. They have. Like confessor said more personal treatment with the audience is closer to the audiences with great they have a great sense of belonging to the museums and also they have greater autonomy. They can make Foster's decision for example. Also, the staff is more linked to each other and more linked to the institution. So this can be an advantage that we can take. And we don't have the contact maybe it's more difficult for smaller teams to collaborate with big companies but we also have a small companies and startups which is which we could collaborate with them and to do some partnership from remember what is important is this collaboration between universities professional from resumes and companies that are in there. So this capacity of starting doing something and what is important from there is we saw different examples of what different museums are doing. So small museums tend to look at the big machines to get an idea of what to do or to have an example of what can be done, but small ones you have to be looking at other small museums and have their own strategy for the own. collections as well. So these are new strategies strategy here to be done and taken advantage especially of de capabilities. And this is important to remember has created this background for people to know each other for the people to know what can be done and to push them to start doing something and if they do that, why I can't do that. So we can start doing something we can experiment we can fail wherever. I know maybe we can talk about a good examples. We have contact with you. Do you want to share with us some examples

Unknown Speaker 27:52
but first, I would like to pass a poll if that's okay. One question I read for everybody in the post pandemic recovery. Will your museum organization either decrease the digital offer, increase the digital offer or remain the same? please be so kind to quickly answer. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 28:22
Okay, yeah. And so for contact you want to start with this example. So,

Unknown Speaker 28:30
first, we will come in. That's great. 80% of us say that your museum will increase the digital offer. That's that's really great and very optimistic. And very also, I would say realistic because one thing has been a very abuse is that we needed to provide more and better quality content for our users. So it's great that in this recovery period, museums intend to to create more more content. Thank you for for answering.

Unknown Speaker 29:12
So, for example, I wanted to comment with you some of the Muslims that collaborated with Rommel and that participate in professional participating teammate. We have a presentation from Jessica we are three families who spoke intimate about feminist practices in museums and the social networks in Mexico. And from that, we have a clear scenario what they did and practices in Mexico. And what happened with this what can be done as context said before, to imply more social issues in museums, like for example, Zoom right and feminist rights. So it is obviously Muslims are in crisis during the pandemic but also women have problems with female killings in Mexico for example. So she's commenting what the situation with museums in digital strategies in Mexico are Mexico has a still 66 of the population connected to internet. So still, there's a gap to get to everyone in there. Most of the Muslims in Mexico use from a social network, they use Facebook, very little of them still use Instagram and some other fields also LinkedIn or YouTube. Regarding the DB Butoh audiences they are quite stark, they don't encourage the audiences to participate at all, except to have good practices that we can see in here that we I want now to commend apart from the Eighth of March, which is the day of the woman which normally museums act. We have the example of the University Museum of Contemporary Art that work in Mexico In Mexico. They started unexperienced called Brianne, Tina's re emptiness. It's a repository of memory of feminist manifestations and they artistic work related to that. So they be told they the recommendation on the social networks but also on the website. On MANY other actions. 170 actions were done by 87 museums, different museums in Mexico regarding this woman and forwarding and feminist recognition of the importance. They did also conference exhibition some some MITC for coming Morning. Regarding that also we have the National Institute of Anthropology and History. This is very interesting because they call what they created the Observatorio from Zoom Tracon Ramos pallida it's our Atari with the name call it by this name loud authorea them Kress, especially to face feminist feminist side and it's got the name of Rachael Ramos who was killed. She was working in that institute and she was killed so the partners decided not to stay shut up. So start making noise, especially in social networks, too. So these will be ahead and they carried out several action including create they created different guides the orange guide for educators of machines to work, especially on this task, and also, the violent Musume guide to help assumes position on that issue. And create more noise. That's all we have.

Unknown Speaker 33:21
Just very quickly interior when the panorama is in Chile from the materials we have. We have the package or LA we have these lovely gallery Mandy is some Zoom in Chile. The dedicated to the memory is the torture center from a host of Pinochet, this partnership. So there was a polemic with the PokemonGo game that they put up, stop Yes, inside the museum. So they made also lots of noise. Saying that this company only wanted a promotion. They didn't look at the culture or the human rights. They didn't promoted issues. So it was important for them to position on that. Also, why the situation in theories normally keeps there wasn't a study during the lockdown. How these Muslims have React is normally like all the museums in Spain or Europe they have lockdown. So they increase their publications on social networks etc. They also did some video calls on some different actions through the all digital but for me an example of the use of Facebook is totally Ruthenia from data landing, assuming TV, which they made capsules disseminated through Facebook especially to make them Zoom known and to be more viral everywhere. And also another example A good example is they are taking Museum and began to map that they did a work so for record nicing The emotions through art. So they created this capsula so information to be thrown. They linked very interesting. They make links between technology, art and different disciplines of managers, creators, researchers, Mr. Which was very, very interesting. So maybe you can speak to position what's being done and to us to know because otherwise we always know the same resumes.

Unknown Speaker 35:36
Absolutely. Absolutely. And there are very great initiatives that not much known. I wanted to comment also a very recent one in in Spain. The museum's at the museum's network of logo in Galicia in the north of Spain. They have developed documentary web series which in the first the first chapter has been issued in the cinema. And it's very interesting because there are four small museums that together have been able to develop this documentary series that we saw also online. And I would like to very quickly commend the the the awards, the winners of the era materials award. I just mentioned three projects out of the 20 awarded projects, all developed by small and medium museums. The first award has been for the gallery to Alpine Fantasia, the visual library for children of the Arctic in Via del Mar Museum in Chile, with a proposal to create a web page aimed in disseminating the artistic expression of keys, and it's managed in a participatory way by themselves forming an archive of children artworks. And the second has been argued here social inclusive, inclusive social archaeology. Educating the heritage in Michelle's organico soccer ad in Brazil. And they have several access virtual visits to the museum to the museums of the city of Navarre, Linda, a virtual event inclusive social archaeology, Child and Youth protagonism and community tourism, a series of podcasts etc, etc. In order to spread the intangible culture of the country and the third has gone to the LA Magdalena Gala. Mohit. is a flow of women from the Magdalena River Museum in Colombia, which proposes an educational strategy to recognize the women of the region and they provide a virtual tour of the Magdalena River line, giving voice to the women of the Riverside's populations and making visible all the plurality and stories and traditions of the of this area. I think it's all the even materials award is worth browsing, but those three have been very, very special. I think. There are MANY lots of initiatives that we couldn't make it longer.

Museum Computer Network 38:33
Kachina I was wondering if you could talk to us about something that's a little bit more meta because you mentioned earlier how MANY, most of the participants and associates of remed and Spain are from small and medium sized institutions and most of this staff have been in their roles for MANY years. And so what I'm interested in in hearing is you know, there's been a lot of talk, as we all know, here at MTN and other digital circles in museums is the challenge of digital literacy skills. And so and I would you know, I don't want to be patronized but older generation staff, how are they coping with the challenge of digital literacy skills? I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that?

Unknown Speaker 39:26
Yes, absolutely. There is a lack of digital training in museums and for museums in general. It's true that there are MANY opportunities for for self training and MANY free offer in online. But I think that institutions to provide some formal training for for museum professionals and train people in MANY, MANY, MANY skills, such as web writing, for example, which is different from writing from paper as we all know, digital storytelling, digital analytics, content strategy, video production or waiting. The use of cooperatives tools, user experience, all these things are crucial and are not I think not as well taught or people are not well trained in general in museums, at least in in Spain, I can I can tell that for sure. And much training. It's very, very much needed. Yes. And the Europeana foundation need to study about digital transformation and they detected three different digital divides. And one was between people who can have access and people who can not, but there were other organizational digital divides, one was entering inter organizational between GLAMs but also galleries and museums, but also intra organizational colleagues who are digitally savvy and colleagues that are almost the digitally illiterate and we need to bridge this divide.

Museum Computer Network 41:26
Right. Right. And one of the things that we found at MC and as you know, we've, we've, we've now have, I think it's our fifth year of implementing a mentorship program, and that's been quite successful. Actually, we have a session tomorrow at noon. For those of you who are interested, like it's called mentorship, office hours at noon, Eastern and our applications are open now through November 24. Anna and contract Do you think it's something that you might want to implement at a met for the Spanish speaking members of your network, mentorship program, and how we could you know, I know that for example, thing, Deborah Howes Ashley and I are both working with us on the mentorship program here. And we've had a couple of requests, I think, one from Portugal and another one from another. I think it was Australia that were also interested in I know a foundation I forget the name of the foundation in Australia is doing a digital mentorship program. Pairing exactly would ask me exactly what which I think I've seen it's very fascinating and pretty much woman. Exactly. So I was wondering if you if you could talk a little bit about that.

Unknown Speaker 42:43
Yeah, I mean, from remit the associates are always asking to we develop workshops or whatever. In fact, in team and we are developing more workshops to these professional has to be, but they're really helpful for a point from here is also more spontaneous, that we can know each other that we can talk that we can share, that we can do all the things so also I think the question is, what are the possibilities that those small museums have and what are the limitations they could? They could be challenges because I want another question that I want to make to you. Do you think small museums and medium museums have more difficulties to access technology? Is that right? They do. They have less opportunities to have access to technology. So in one hand, maybe they have less resources, but in the other hand, they're waiting for an app to say that is they have because what we said before they are more spontaneous. They can adapt to the changes, they more they have more the capability of innovation. So this innovation how it comes is not all only going to cursors so training or whatever is also doing a starting doing and what is more, as more as you do, maybe this technology is obsolete is gone, but you have more skills on that. But also this collaboration. Maybe you don't have the skills in digital but you collaborate with someone who has it so and work together to get it and this is what is important from Bremen, to be in contact with other professionals and to be creating those scenarios. So I really believe that small and medium resumes have this capability of adaptation to go to other kinds of discourses and other kinds of conversations with their audiences or with the with the world on with technology as well. But also in crisis. They are more capability to be a GRC in the times of crisis like we are today know with the callback.

Museum Computer Network 45:06
Contract. You have a question? Paul wants to go ahead.

Unknown Speaker 45:11
Yes. Well, we wanted to know how strong is your New Museum organization in digital skills since we were talking about the need the visual literacy, more staff have the data the skills needed. Some of staff have some of these capabilities, but more training would be necessary. And we don't have staff with digital skills and we outsource most digital tasks. core services. This can you answer that I have

Unknown Speaker 45:42
put here on the chat also the link for the website or Premier. And also,

Unknown Speaker 45:48
I know he was not public. It's probably not public.

Museum Computer Network 45:51

Unknown Speaker 45:52
you may want to know Okay,

Unknown Speaker 45:55
okay, here we have the results. As expected, I would say 92% say that some stuff have some digital capabilities, and more training would be necessary. This is most general. Also in large museums, I would say yeah. And lucky you the 8% that most stuff is digital scale. Yes.

Museum Computer Network 46:18
I think we're like we have 10 minutes left and I think this is a perfect kind of segue and opening to questions. Deborah Howes was asking a question in the chat about would there be an interest in small and medium Spanish speaking, museums in perhaps collaborating with English speaking ones can have a an institutional mentorship program, Deborah, is that is that right? Something along those lines? I was wondering like if you can all pitch in and just pitch in and let's have a conversation.

Unknown Speaker 46:55
Thanks, Eric. Um, I actually wasn't thinking about mentorship specifically, I was thinking more about you know, like, I'm doing a lot of work with Texas museums, Texas. has a huge Spanish speaking population and a huge connection with Spanish history. And they have collections, you know, Colonial Spanish collections that so I just wondered if there was a moment there are a lot of small museums in Texas just to take an example. There are MANY you know, would there be would this be an opportunity from some kind of like, you know, building the resources together so that we can offer these resources in two languages, but also reflect two different points of view, at least, if not more, because sometimes there's also the indigenous population point of view but I just think, you know, is is this something that is being talked about or of interest could could maybe MC and help with that in some way?

Unknown Speaker 47:54
Maybe see, no. Yes from everything. And of course, Deborah on your your background and expertise, you have good health and we are open to to collaborate and you can have a deeper talk and see what what the possibilities are. So absolutely, I think that also language is so important. Because we had these MCM other conferences about technology and zooms in English, but there was nothing in Spanish. So we created this network and this conference, and really, the professionals need that protein in their own language, which is a continent which speak Spanish, mostly in Latin America, we are today.

Museum Computer Network 48:39
One of the things that we have talked about at MC N for a while, you know, we have our cigs for special interest groups, which are basically communities of practices that are siloed and on on strategy on digital media, etc. And we talked about no there was talked at one point in the past 10 years for sure. About having a Spanish speaking. SIG for not just you know, the the I mean, there's a huge contingent of museum workers in the US who are Spanish speaking and maybe that could be a nice something, you know, this this could be a collaboration and that between the demand and and an MCM to activate that SIG and would cross pollinate those two communities together. It's going to be something to explore.

Unknown Speaker 49:31
I love that. We are not physically together, but we start projects, also through the screens.

Unknown Speaker 49:39
And so I think cities are great too. Is a great opportunity here for more cooperation between museums or among museums, to forge alliances and networking and sharing digital projects, or maybe even sharing digital platforms to for a more affordability of projects. And I always say that the cooperation that exists in the analog world among museums, for example, for exhibitions or for international loans. It doesn't have a parallel in the digital world. There are very few digital projects made in collaboration. And I think there is a huge opportunity here.

Unknown Speaker 50:25
Absolutely, I agree.

Museum Computer Network 50:29
Any, any other questions? Any questions? Yes or any would you like to expand on what was just shared here?

Unknown Speaker 50:40
Maybe people can also activate your microphone or

Museum Computer Network 50:43
Yeah, yeah. Don't be don't be shy. Just so you know. Yeah. Go ahead. Sorry.

Unknown Speaker 50:51
I may I would like to share an initiative that I think is outstanding. By the Pratt Institute. I will just say it either word because I CLN is here. The Pratt Institute runs a program through the center of digital experiences. It's faculty led, but student driven and students do research projects about user experience or content strategy or websites redesign apply to existing cultural institutions. And I think that it's very interesting to consider perhaps your museum will be interested in applying to be selected for such a project because if you see them online, there are amazing project projects. Maybe Elena,

Museum Computer Network 51:43
and then are you about this.

Unknown Speaker 51:45
Thank you. Thank you for sharing the work that we're doing at the DX center. Alana Cantor, nice to see you. And yeah, we were working with a lot of small and medium size cultural organizations. And we are now thinking about when we're conducting a project about how to increase UX research and design capacity in museums. So with idea of developing a playbook that will help the sector and we're finding that yeah, there's a huge need especially from that small and medium sized museums. So yeah, um, we we had a workshop at the beginning of NC and and we hope to share more about that project. Soon. But yeah, we we have different opportunities to engage with the center and help you in different digital projects. Thank you for sharing that content.

Unknown Speaker 52:39
I share the link. Thanks to you.

Museum Computer Network 52:43
Thank you. We have a few. A few minutes left if there are any questions or discussions and remember that you can join us at 215. Eastern and I myself will host the kind of recap of the day and whatever we learned and that is also something that we'd like to involve you guys the attendees to join us and kind of organically, you know, extrapolate those those learnings into the transcript with or insights that we've had in those sessions. And obviously, there's another you know, the Peruvian session is concurrent to ours. And in 15 minutes, and I will be leading the other South American session with our colleagues from Colombia and Argentina. So

Unknown Speaker 53:35
I shared the link but I really really recommend you having a look at this MCM presentation of the other day. All it takes is stuff time resources, because there are MANY in this Google Docs document. There are MANY initiatives, very low budget and very creative and it's a source of inspiration. Really.

Unknown Speaker 53:59
I also shared with you a link with the open Museum, that which is a platform that also was created during the lockdown to help museums in Latin America, and they make especially training for MANY MANY professional tools important as our research and without doing, we collaborate with them. Great

Museum Computer Network 54:26
if you're if there's any, any last minute questions with two minutes, if not, we can end it there and have two more minutes. To our 15 minutes of the break. And we'll you can join us in 15 minutes for the Latin American session which Anna is going to be leading and then an hour later at 215. Join us for the recap. Thank you everyone. Thank you for joining us. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you Bye