Transnational Conference:  COME-IN! CHALLENGES towards accessible museums, 

Presentation of COME-IN! Guidelines in Brussels, 8th June 2017

Accessibility is not a special need, everyone needs equal access and equal opportunies was one of the main arguments during the transnational conference COME-IN! Challenges towards the accessible museum” which took place on June 8th , 2017 in Brussels. Several EU stakeholders attended the conference focused on COME-IN! Guidelines, consisting in a set of rules, technical requirements and legal framework to ensure full accessibility of small and medium museums in Central Europe.

Museums and monuments are not a static element and everyone has the right to enjoy culture. As Ms. Isabelle Brianso, from International Council of Museums mentioned, the museums of 21st century are quite different from what they were 20 years ago. Indeed, the focus should now be placed on the audience rather than on collections. Such an approach requires new tools and cultural mediation to have an impact on the audience. The mentioned evolution has led to new jobs, such as community managers, with expertise in museology.

Today we live in a new digital era that offers new opportunities to ensure accessibility for all, however, digitalization is not the only mean to grant inclusion. In fact, it requires a change of mindset, to educate and train, museum operators, teachers, tourism operators and finally children. Accessibility is a process that often requires a few attempts before finding the right solution. “We learn by doing”, explained Ms. Cintia Silva, from the Museu da Comunidade, Concelhia da Batalha, Portugal.

Very often, the main obstacle concerns physical access to the monuments and buildings, due to the monuments preservation laws. Mr. Werner, from the ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sights illustrated some legislative conflicts between monuments preservation and everyone’s right to enjoy and participate in the cultural life.

However, most of the obstacles are those in our mind. COME-IN! partners focused on the idea of inclusion to avoid exclusion and integration that do not allow full accessibility. Disabilities are not a problem, barriers are and they need to be dismantled. To achieve this goal, the COME-IN! partnership delivered guidelines for small and medium museums to help museum staff identify main barriers and eliminate them. The basis for the guidelines is the “service chain” which takes into consideration all kinds of accessibilities: physical, information and communication, social and economic accessibility. The guidelines will serve as the starting point for partner museums to implement necessary interventions to ensure everyone to access their museum and enjoy the exhibitions. These interventions will be tested over a six month period and should new elements arise the guidelines will be revised. The museums that reach the foreseen minimum standards of accessibility will be awarded with a COME-IN! label, as a unique brand of accessible museum.

The ultimate goal is to transfer the experience and knowledge acquired in the project and convince other museums to apply the guidelines and receive the COME-IN! Label.

The conference agenda is available here.