SoPHIA Newsletter 2, Editorial: Cultural heritage impact assessment and Museums

Dear reader,

We are happy to bring you the second issue of the SoPHIA Newsletter. This issue focuses on the importance of assessment models for museums.

Museums, traditionally, are known to be places where heritage is preserved, studied and disseminated to public. However, museums today are much more than caretakers of traces of the past. This means that development of museums is integrated in many different areas of politics, economics, and social life besides the cultural sphere. There are differences in many aspects discovering, interpreting, and applying newly developing practices. Museums care for increasing engagement with the community, developing relations with local culture, measuring economic value, communicating with the public through various activities. Museums construct a culture of democracy, a sense of diversity, globalization, a sense of belonging through their works, and etc.

However, there is no clearly defined quality criteria for measuring what museums do or a guiding framework that deals with the sector from a holistic perspective. That makes the SoPHIA project attractive to the museums by its multi-faceted approach and provides valuable contribution to the sector. The holistic approach of the SoPHIA project deals with cultural, economic, social, political and environmental domains. The project outlines the gaps of existing models and aims to complete and provide clear quality framework. This will help museums as well as actors of the heritage sector be more aware of and have methods to measure their activities.

Museums are, as many other sectors, living in a reality where development is done through projects. The closer the impact assessment model is to how such projects are structured, the more relevant to the individual museums. At the same time, we need to realize that if the impact assessment model is too over-reaching on a very abstract level, the model may be more relevant for some academic studies but less interesting for the individual museums. Our role in the project as the European Museum Academy is to provide a solid knowledge of how museums practice will be useful to the SoPHIA project. This includes a deeper understanding of how differences in museum type, location and public-private relation, and what these differences mean for a museum in terms of preconditions and self-image.

At the European Museum Academy, we aim at shaping such relations to our colleagues in the SoPHIA project that it will be natural to proceed our collaboration in other actions where combination of practical and academic perspectives across Europe is of the essence.

Before ending our piece here, we wish you an enjoyable reading, happy holidays and a healthy, happy, and free 2021, where and when local and international, public and private restrictions are removed!

The EMA team

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