Meet, See, Do 2021 “What are Museums for? Back to Basics!”

MSD 2021 was held at the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence in Skopje 29-30 September 2021. The theme of the conference was “What are Museums for? Back to Basics!”. The conference was held in a hybrid format – some lecturers and conference participants were physically present, and some participated online. In two days, through eleven extensive lectures, participants identified common problems and weaknesses, and possible solutions were offered as examples of good practice.

Lisa Baxter, a museum expert who works on visitor perception programs in museums, introduced the participants  to the skills and ways in which museums offer exhibitions that are relevant, fascinating and emotionally engaging for their audiences through exhibitions and permanent exhibitions. Her lecture was titled “Why is the visitor experience in the museum important?”, “Visitor experience – what is it?“and” Visitor Experience – How? “Baxter stressed  the importance of affirmative emotional impact on visitors to the exhibitions museums make, which is often neglected in efforts to be as professional and focused on the topic presented in temporary and permanent exhibitions.

Kristina Biceva, President of ICOMOS Macedonia talked about “Is the truth in the stone?“ giving the overview of archeological sites in Macedonia, their importance, potentials in the tourist context and realities. There are 5.160 archeological sites in Macedonia, of which 118 are registered (valorized and protected sites), but only a dozen of them have been interpreted, and only five (!) are organized and presented to visitors. Other registered sites, although with great potential, are struggling with a lack of infrastructure, interpretation, professional staff and even inadequate care that these sites deserve. Biceva’s colleague presented possible solutions in her lecture.

The issue of good practice (or less good practice) in museums was presented in a lecture by archeologist Tatjana Cvjetičanin from the National Museum in Belgrade. Through a series of examples, Tatjana has shown how history is rewritten when only selected parts, without the broader context that archeological exhibitions certainly have to present in order to have credibility, are used to highlight desirable state themes or personalities.

The design of museum exhibitions and permanent exhibitions as well as the necessary active cooperation between designers and curators of the exhibition was presented by Igor Stepančić in the lecture “Why, What and What Not!”

Conservators-restorers Azra Bečević-Šarenkapa and Kristina Horjak from the National Museum of BiH and the National Museum in Belgrade presented an extensive segment of museum work that is not in the public light, but is vital in every museum: conservation, restoration and accompanying documentation. material. A special topic was the preparation of documentation for exhibitions outside the museum or the state, the procedures that accompany this activity, as well as good practice through many years of experience.

The Meet, See, Do showed that museum challenges, as well as the need for knowledge and good practice, are very similar in Croatian museums as well as in museums from the region that have hosted their presentations and presentations on specific issues. Personally, as well as other participants, the opportunity to listen to these issues and discuss them with arguments gives us an incentive to fight for positive museum practices and better cooperation between different professions within a museum, as well as better presentation through exhibitions and permanent exhibitions aimed at our end user-visitor!

Author: Iva Validžija

Original text in Croatian language was published by Museum Documentation Center


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