Over the last few years, some of our blogposts have focused on the topic of intercultural dialogue, or how museums are devising and adopting strategies to facilitate exchange/dialogue between people of different cultural backgrounds. Simona Bodo introduced us to the theoretical underpinnings and practical application of intercultural dialogue in Europe and Patricia Lannes shared the project she founded called CALTA21 to help bridge Immigrant English-Learners and museums. This week, we hear from Hannelore Franck, Yasmine Heynderickx, Anaïs Masure, and Pierre Tanguay who introduce a tool they developed to help museum professionals, researchers, and heritage sector stakeholders in intercultural research, planning, and evaluation. This tool is very thorough and seems to be nimble enough to meet the needs of an array of museums. Read on and explore the intercultural tool!
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In the context of a collaboration between UQÀM (department of Museum Studies) and Universiteit Antwerpen (department of Cultural Management), the four of us recently carried out a comparative study of approaches to cultural diversity in city museums. We looked more specifically at how city museums encouraged intercultural dialogue, that is, how they sought, beyond the mere inclusion and representation of diversity, to foster interaction between people of various cultural backgrounds and to promote mutual learning and understanding.
We observed and compared four city museums operating in relatively large and culturally diversified urban areas of Quebec, Flanders, and The Netherlands: the Montreal History Centre, MAS | Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp, STAM | Ghent City Museum, and Museum Rotterdam. What strategies do these museums put forth to encourage intercultural dialogue? How do they perceive their intercultural role? What kinds of intercultural projects do they come up with? Like many others, these four museums had been looking for ways to engage with a more inclusive and diverse spectrum of the local population, and they had been experimenting in various ways. Our aim was to support them by making practical recommendations in areas like collections development, exhibitions, and education, and most importantly to facilitate the exchange of intercultural experiences and to encourage the museums to learn from each other.
With that objective in mind, we adapted and built upon the tools of the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities program to create an intercultural museum grid intended to facilitate this process of analysis, benchmarking, and exchange. We are delighted to now share this grid with other museum professionals and researchers who may wish to use it to further their reflection on diversity and intercultural engagement. Museums may find the grid useful for initiating brainstorming sessions and self-assessment exercises, supporting planning processes, conducting intercultural project evaluations, or facilitating benchmarking and the exchange of strategic information.
The grid is available on the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities website. Please feel free to have a look!
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Hannelore Franck (PhD candidate, History, KU Leuven Kulak) has studied History at KU Leuven and Arts Management at Universiteit Antwerpen. She is working on a PhD on the subject of poverty relief in medieval Bruges. Yasmine Heynderickx (M.S. Arts Management, Universiteit Antwerpen) is currently working with the Antwerp Management School’s Research Centre on Creative Industries. Anaïs Masure (M.S. History and Arts Management, Universiteit Antwerpen) has recently been working at the Red Star Line Museum and is currently looking for new opportunities. Pierre Tanguay (M.A. Museum Studies, UQÀM) has been working in the contemporary art and film sectors for the past 13 years. He currently holds the position of Analyst, Industry and Market Trends at the Canada Media Fund.