Accessibility is not a special need, everyone needs equal access and equal opportunies was one of the main topics of discussion during the transnational conference COME-IN! Challenges towards the accessible museum” held in Brussels on 8 June.

Several EU stakeholders attended the event focused on the COME-IN! Guidelines, i.e. a set of rules, technical requirements and legal framework to ensure full accessibility of small and medium-sized museums in Central Europe.

Museums and monuments are not a static element and everyone has the right to enjoy culture. Isabelle Brianso, from the International Council of Museums, mentioned that the museums of the 21st century were quite different from what they were 20 years ago. She highlighted that the focus should now be placed on the audience rather than on collections and that such an approach required new tools and cultural mediation in order to have an impact on the audience. The mentioned evolution has led to new jobs, such as community managers, with expertise in museology.

Today we are living in a new digital era that offers new opportunities to ensure accessibility for all. Nevertheless, digitalisation is not the only means for granting inclusion. It requires a change of mindset, to educate and train, museum operators, teachers, tourism operators and finally children. Accessibility is a process that often requires a few attempts before finding the right solution. “We learn by doing”, explained Cintia Silva, from the Museu da Comunidade, Concelhia da Batalha, Portugal.

Very often, the main obstacle concerns physical access to the monuments and buildings, due to the monuments preservation laws. Werner von Trützschler, from the ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sights illustrated some legislative conflicts between monument preservation and everyone’s right to enjoy and participate in cultural life.

However, most obstacles are in our mind. COME-IN! partners focused on the idea of inclusion to avoid exclusion and integration lacking full accessibility. Disabilities are not a problem, barriers need to be dismantled. To achieve this goal, the COME-IN! partnership delivered guidelines for small and medium-sized museums to help museum staff to identify main barriers and eliminate them. The basis for the guidelines is the “service chain” which takes into consideration all kinds of accessibilities: physical, information and communication, social and economic accessibility. The guidelines will serve as the starting point for partner museums to implement necessary interventions in order to ensure everyone access to museums and exhibitions. These interventions will be tested over a six-month period and the guidelines will be updated on a regular basis. The museums reaching the foreseen minimum standards of accessibility will be awarded with a COME-IN! label, as a unique brand of an accessible museum.

The ultimate goal is to transfer the experience and knowledge acquired and convince other museums to apply the guidelines and receive the COME-IN! Label.


 

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