ICOM South East Europe Alliance

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May 20, 2020

Museum Blisters or How to Prevent Wasting Resources in Difficult Times! Conference


With a catchy webinar title, INTERCOM and ICOM SEE wanted to address a new kind of challenges that museums faced in 2020, the challenges that were global and long-lasting, sparing no one. Therefore, it was vital to deal with them carefully. In cooperation with national ICOM committees in the region of South East Europe, the partner committee and regional ICOM SEE alliance offered an online webinar organised on 20 May 2020 in order to mark the International Museum Day. The chosen topic was relevant in time of the pandemics. Although the International Museum Day topic for 2020, which had been selected prior to the pandemics, stressed the issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, new circumstances demanded proper responses since museums worldwide coped with difficulties in different ways, clearly showing that equality is not easy to establish when resources are in question. The webinar proved that museums met a lot of obstacles in performing their everyday duties since new measures changed the habits and behaviour of visitors, users, employees, media, etc. It became obvious that in difficult times, it is extremely important how resources are used, not only to fulfil the important social role of museums but also to ensure museums’ survival. Apart from the financial cuts and a decrease in the number of visitors, which left many museums without income, administrative burdens were increasing, which was a heavy load for human and other resources and put many professionals under additional stress. Furthermore, all new measures, endless reporting and restrictions left little space for creative work. Switching online also required resources that many smaller museums lack. The investment in new technologies and employment of high-tech staff is usually not a privilege of many. In some rural parts of the world there are no proper internet connections, too. The webinar ‘Museum blisters or how to prevent wasting resources in difficult times!’ created an opportunity for museum professionals to discuss recent challenges and to seek for solutions. The participants were manly museum directors and heads of departments from the region of South East Europe and ICOM SEE was eager to include all countries from the alliance. There were 55 participants from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Moldova and Northern Macedonia.

A global perspective during the webinar was provided by the INTERCOM experts who reported on the recent experience from the network and pointed out the identified difficulties which exist in the region of South East Europe. The webinar was organised on the ZOOM platform.

The purpose was to increase the museums’ preparedness since it is vital in any disaster management and many museums have response strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how rapidly unprecedented situations can affect museum work and life in general. The webinar aimed to show how museums are backed up by their authorities in such major crises. The selected speakers provided the audience with practical information and examples of how important it is to use museum resources wisely and what messages museums should send to their founders and decision makers in order to balance different requests.

Presenters at the webinar were Alenka Černelič Krošelj (ICOM SEE), Goranka Horjan (INTERCOM), Marek Prokupek (INTERCOM) Kaja Širok (ICOM Slovenia), Virgil Stefan Nitilescue (ICOM Romania). The presentations were followed by a lively online discussion. Technical support was provided by the Posavje Museum Brežice, Slovenia.