Learning Exchange on Museums and Social Impact

The Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (AEGPC) welcomed 8 NEMO members to a NEMO Learning Exchange in Madrid from 8 – 9 March 2018. The participants from Finland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Ireland, Romania and Azerbaijan learned about social impact in Spanish museums and visited three museums in the Spanish capital. The full programme can be accessed as a pdf here.

The first day started at Caixa Forum with an introduction of NEMO and our host, the Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (AEGPC), to welcome all participants. The AEGPC promotes the professional management of cultural heritage resources and advocates for the recognition of cultural heritage's social value. Furthermore, the association designs and manages training tools to enhance the professional competences of cultural heritage managers.

Afterwards, Ana Carro, the president of the Spanish Association of Museologists (AEM), gave a presentation of their concept of lifelong learning and training opportunities for museum professionals. Ana Carro also informed the participants about AEM's projects to make museums accessible for everyone, like the production of videos to visualise Spanish exhibitions or efforts they have made to include blind children in the museum. This presentation was followed by the initiative Art for Change “La Caixa”, which uses art and culture as tools for social improvement. They generate creative processes, guided by an artist, in which especially vulnerable groups take an active part to offer equal conditions and opportunities for contribution.

Later the delegates got familiar with the Paraisurural project of María González, which aims to support rural development through art by artistic interventions. The last presentation before the lunch break was held by the director of the contemporary art museum Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), Manuel Segade. The museum is located in a workers' district of Madrid and its goal is to bring the neighborhood into the museum. One initiative they started was to invite young people to dance in the museum under the motto “Be whoever you wanna be!”. After the lunch break the delegates went to visit the National Museum of Anthropology and heard about the museum’s education strategy.

The second day started with the Deputy Director General of State Museums, Miguel González Suela who presented the Museos + Sociales plan, which was created by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain. It aims to improve the accessibility of museums and to respond to the needs of citizens, especially those groups that have difficulties to visit museums or that are at risk of social exclusion. The purpose is also to make the museum an element of integration and mutual knowledge. A place to share reflections and experiences and respond to social, economic and cultural changes.

This input was followed by an active group work exercise lead by Lorenza Stanziano from AEGPC, two representatives from La Rueca Asociaciòn and one representative from Plena Inclusión Madrid. Plena Inclusión Madrid addresses people with cognitive disabilities and designs measures to make their museum visit as pleasant as possible. One initiative is for example the writing of easy-to-read texts and the subsequent examination if people with cognitive disabilities are able to understand these texts. La Rueca Asociaciòn works with immigrants of all ages and different cultural backgrounds. They foster many neighborhood projects like urban gardening to shape a community. As a preparation for the group work the delegates got an introduction to the Design Thinking Method to tackle problems in a strategic way. After the theoretical input the delegates had to make up a fictional person belonging to a vulnerable group, in order to better understand how to address their audience. In two groups, they drafted empathy maps to emphasise with their target group and understand what their needs are. Afterwards the participants shared their empathy map with the other group and discussed their results. The discussion continued during the lunch which was followed by a visit to the Andy Warhol exhibition in Caixa Forum.   

The last item on the agenda was a visit to the Museo del Prado. There the delegates got a tour by the museum educator who explained how to make some of the masterpieces accessible for children and teenagers.    

NEMO would like to thank the Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers for hosting this successful Learning Exchange! NEMO also would like to thank all initiatives and projects that presented their work to us!

This event was awarded with the European Year of Cultural Heritage Label, showing that the event supported the role of Europe’s cultural heritage and its importance to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Learn more about obtaining the label from NEMO here.