The pandemic, which forced the closure of museums around the world and separated them from their habitual communities, today requires rethinking new ways in which museums “are present”, as well as conceiving who is part of the museum in order to build a post-COVID “new museum era”.
Is the museum in its collections, in those who observe them or in the transformations it generates? Is the museum your building or is it your community of makers and audiences?
Although collections are the soul of the museum, the museum is where these collections form a community. The potential of objects as communication tools and triggers for lessons or inspiration transcends physical walls, allowing the museum to be in the meaningful connections it generates. Therefore, one of the coming challenges will be learning to communicate with diverse audiences in a changing virtual world.
This new way of “being” should begin by evaluating which communities to serve and identifying their needs. Secondly, by considering how to better reach these audiences amid an overloaded virtual cultural offer (creating strategies to reduce both digital gaps and inclusion of people with physical disabilities, for example).
Above all, we should understand that we are facing a “new era of museums”, in which it will be essential to build museums that are located within (and include) diverse communities, weaving alliances with other sectors such as innovation and education, to strengthen its social impact.
When museums reopen, they must ensure the sustainability of an integrated physical and virtual museum sector, that will position them as a more relevant resource for active citizenship and education in the life of their communities.