Wednesday, 3 March 2010
A few weeks ago I was part of arranging a seminar at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. The seminar was a co-arrangement between Swedish Travelling Exhibitions and the School of Global Studies at Gothenburg University. The theme for the seminar was "The Museum and the audience".
In the programme The Museum of World Culture told about their audience work. The Museum has young adults as their main target group and are very successful with their work towards this target group. During 2009 the museum had over 200 000 visitors, out of these 60% were younger than 30 years.
One perspective Katarina Bergil (acting director) and Klas Grinell (curator) adressed in their speech was the museum´s view on the audience. The starting point for their discussion was that the visitors possess knowledge and abilities which are relevant to the museum. Museums need to develop new methods in order to capture these capacities and to involve them in their activities.
A common expression when working with certain target groups and especially those which are socially underprivileged is "outreach". At the Museum of World Culture they are thinking in the opposite direction, should the museum talk about "INREACH"?
The ”outreach” expression often has an interpretation precedence embedded into it. We are aiming at groups who are underrepresented and underprivliged, but we do it with our culture and our views on culture, with our codes and language, with our methods. A form of cultural colonialism.
INREACH is about viewing the visitor as an active player, a carrier of knowledge and experiences, who can contribute and develop our perspectives and activities. It is a perspective which creates relevance for the visitor by us valueing their participation and by us looking for an equal meeting where both parties learn from each other.
INREACH becomes a turn of thoughts where we look upon an internal needs for development as something which is in the interest of both parties, as a common, socio-cultural process where we meet in a dialogue and where we interact with the surrounding world in order to learn from each other.