Finding creative ways to serve the public
Culture never stops, and it is crucial that museums keep going too, especially in the face of COVID-19. “Museums are more than just places where humanity’s heritage is preserved and promoted”, noted Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO. “They are also key spaces of education, inspiration and dialogue. At a time when billions of people around the world are separated from one another, museums can bring us together”. . Not surprisingly, we are seeing museums and the communities they serve become more resilient, resourceful and innovative. From virtual visits to Facebook and Instagram content, from podcasts to open access online platforms, museums and cultural institutions are getting creative as they cope with this unprecedented situation. Some museum professionals shared with UNESCO how they are facing this difficult time.
“COVID-19 is a pandemic affecting everyone. In order to contribute to reducing the spread, the Livingstone Museum is closed but active via Facebook and our website. Be wise, stay at home!” said Terry Nyambe, Assistant Keeper of Ichthyology, Livingstone Museum, Zambia
To continue the support they provide as social networks, many of Lebanon’s museums have made virtual tours and mobile applications available. “We will come through this and we are keeping in mind, for after COVID-19, the reprogramming of activities in our museums, because by saving culture, we save society, its diversity, its vitality and its creativity,” said Anne Marie Afeiche, Executive Director General, Council of Museums, Lebanon.
Hamady Bocoum, General Manager of the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal, is quickly taking action. “Since the Museum closed due to COVID-19, we are engaging our experts to film guided tours of all the exhibitions. These will be broadcast in segments on Senegalese television, and will also be made available online,” he said.
Beryl Ondiek, Director of National Museums in Seychelles, stated that “In the mist of chaos, museums break the walls that keep us apart. Museums can use all of the collections and information we have, and transmit our cultural and natural heritage to communities through the internet to lift spirits and keep everyone connected.”