Tuesday, 4 April 2017

To charge or not to charge: the data

As far as I am aware of, decisions to charge or not to charge and how in Portuguese national museums are never based on research. Those who scrap admission fees do it in the name of “democratisation” and “accessibility” and state that the loss of income is not significant (never mentioning how much it is, though). Those who reinstate them usually speak of the need to generate some income.

Although previous research and summative evaluation is not part of our practice in Portugal, this is not the case in other countries. And even though we seem to lack our own specific data, we can always learn from the experience and shared knowledge of others.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017

What if it was here?

Harvard Books created a special section on its shelves in response to a Trump spokeswoman's reference to a massacre that never happened (image taken from the Harvard Books Instagram account)

I must admit that it is with great emotion and admiration that I see American cultural organisations taking a (political) stand and criticising their President’s policies. Some rather mild in their reactions, others quite affirmative and outspoken (see here), it is nevertheless a great lesson for us all and very probably the proof that cultural organisations are anything but neutral, they are actually inevitably political.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Looking for sandy ground

"Free access to museums for under 30s", one reads in portuguese newspapers. The measure was approved in parliament yesterday. 

"Can anyone explain to me the logic of under 30s?", asks a Brazilian colleague.

"Is it to stimulate young families, like couples with small children?", replies another colleague. "Is it because it was found that unemployment is higher among the under 30s?"

Is it worth looking for the logic? Was there a logic? Was the measure based on any management report? Was it based on some audience survey? Were the professionals of the sector consulted? Are there concrete objectives that can be evaluated in one or two years’ time?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

End-of-year readings

Contemplating the lake and mountains of Ioannina, Greece.

Four texts I read in these last weeks and have stayed with me:

Patti Smith, How does it feel

Wishing for a humane 2017.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Unwilling actors in centre stage

The New Americans Museum. Panel vandalised.
(image taken from the museum's Facebook page)

Not surprisingly, after the elections, the Tenement Museum in New York, a museum that tells America’s urban immigrant story has seen an “unprecedented number” of negative comments by visitors about immigrants.  It’s not an isolated incident. Other museums, such as the Idaho Black History Museum or The New Americans Museum, recently suffered racially charged vandalism on their premises.

Beware politicians who bring out the worst in us, one might think. But one might also add, beware museums which fail to see the politics in what they do. This was what I thought when reading the first paragraph in Zach Aaron’s (a Tenement Museum board member) response to the negative comments from visitors:

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Diplomatic silences

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister
As the the Web Summit was coming to a close in Lisbon, a day after the results of the American elections became known, the Municipality of Lisbon placed some outdoors that read: “In the free world you can still find a city to live, invest and build your future, making brigdes [sic], not walls. We call it Lisbon”. The outdoors were classified as “anti-Trump” by the opposition, which preferred to think that this was “an abusive interpretation and that [the mayor’s] intention was not to disrespect the democratic choice of the American people, it was not a demonstration of ideological arrogance, it was not an opportunistic precipitation as a result of becoming dazzled with the international attention." In short, the opposition asked for explanations (read the article).