Scholarship or public appeal?

The role of innovation in the transmission of art in museums

MúzeumCafé 47.

The title contains two key words – innovation and museums – and for many people bringing the concepts together is not to be despised, even if the connection between them is not so obvious. Public space, experiences, interactive, child-friendly – or impersonal, boring, exacting. For most museum staff the former are preferred, while visitors, primarily the young, think of the latter on hearing the word museum. So how can the personnel responsible for museum education and public relations address the concerns of their public? What kind of conflicts are there in the museum ‘hierarchy’? What is the institutional standpoint and what kind of role does innovation play within it? The article summarises the results of ten interviews with prominent professionals conducted in early 2014 aimed at finding answers to these questions. The interviewees came from a variety of museums including the Petőfi Museum of Literature, the Museum of Ethnography, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Szentendre Skanzen, the Budapest History Museum, the Ludwig Museum and the Hungarian National Museum. The current understanding and main task of a museum was defined by the International Council of Museums in 2007. Accordingly: “A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.” The definition is very loose, giving room for subjective interpretations on the part of institutes – for example, how are such tasks to be divided, what is the social and scientific role of a museum, and specifically how does the public fit into the concept?