At the international conference “Innovation and Integrity: Museums paving the way in an AI-driven society”, NEMO facilitated discussions with the sector and policy makers on the role, challenges and the potential of museums in an increasingly AI-driven society.

Access a summary and download the presentations that were given on 20 March 2024 at the House of European History in Brussels, where invited participants got to investigate museums’ use of AI in terms of art form and cultural practice development, data creation, manipulation, and interpretation. They to explore how museums and cultural heritage at large can help counter fake reality and disinformation. Additionally, the conference discussed AI in terms of new ways of work, new competences and changing business models for the sector. The conference organisers also asked whether museums can co-create strategies to engage AI technologies, focusing on transparency and trust, and basing decisions on shared values and human-centred ethics.

Recommendations for policymakers

The conference was closed with the presentation of three recommendations for policymakers aiming to support museums to tap their full potential and to find their role in the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI). A clear political vision is crucial for navigating the complexities of AI integration, prioritising collaboration, responsible data management, and innovation. Museums must uphold integrity in their AI interactions, recognising the importance of trust and transparency. Acknowledging the museum sector's potential as part of a public digital infrastructure, regulatory attention and financial investment are needed to address challenges such as environmental costs, diverse museum needs, and resource deficiencies. Leveraging their expertise in data collection and management, museums can play a role in co-creating ethical AI standards and countering the influence of powerful private interests. The recommendations outlined here are addressed to policymakers at all levels to support museums in navigating AI, enabling them to drive innovation while maintaining integrity and relevance.

  1. A political vision for museums and cultural heritage in an AI-driven society  
    Recognising the unique position of museums and cultural heritage as pillars of trust within society, it is imperative to integrate them into a regulatory framework. Artificial intelligence in museums needs to be addressed and shaped so that technological developments do not simply reshape museums from the outside. Collaborative efforts between governments, regulatory bodies, and museum professionals can ensure that museums play a pivotal role in the development of ethical practices related to emerging technologies.
  2. Financial investments to apply AI successfully in the Public Cultural Domain
    Financial resources must be allocated for infrastructure, equipment and highly qualified human resources, enhancing museums’ professional capacities.AI needs to source high-quality, interoperable data and properly described metadata. Copyright issues must be resolved. Museum professionals need adequate skills to perform these tasks, to keep pace with rapidly evolving AI capabilities and to address sector-specific concerns. Furthermore, standing commitments to support the cultural heritage sector should be expanded to ensure the quality and quantity of digitalisation required by Cultural Heritage Data Spaces and the European Collaborative Cultural Heritage Cloud.
  3. Establishment of a European AI innovation hub for cultural heritage 
    To foster creativity, innovation and collaboration, to centralise expertise and knowledge and to face challenges for the sector associated with AI, there is a need for a dedicated competency centre in Europe. This space would serve as a hub to bring together expertise and practices, knowledge and resources in a network of and for professionals, ensuring digital innovation and development across the diverse European Cultural heritage sector - in alignment with the values of human-centred design, privacy, and open-source practices. 

Access the summary and download the presentations and have a look at the programme.