Internal communication in museums Print

The issue of communication of the cultural and social value of cultural heritage – conceived as inter-related to the issue of the protection of heritage – has been strongly debated in the last years in Italy. On the one hand, there is quite obviously in the country a great need to preserve  the heritage, activity which absorbs the majority of the available human and financial resources; on the other hand, we are facing a  situation in which the number of visitors increases constantly but they are representative of a small part of the population, since most of them are highly educated people. This means that there are entire groups of population which are excluded from cultural consumption and that there are strong barriers which prevent access and participation to museums, which are not only physical and economic but also cultural.

Written texts within museums are a very powerful tools in terms of provision of cultural access, but very often they act as barriers due to “readability” issues (small characters, bad lightning, poor design) and “accessibility” ones (specialistic language, long texts, etc.).

 

In 2011 Eccom has carried out on behalf of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali a project of technical assistance based on the following activities:

  • Provision of the theoretical  principles on which internal communication in museums is based. These principles will be used to develop national  guidelines about internal communication in museums, with specific reference to the written texts;
  • Realization of visitor studies in order to analyze the visitors’perception about the written texts within the National Museum of Archaeology of Florence. The tools used to carry out the study were observation, questionnaires and interviews;
  • Analysis of the results of the study;
  • Development of new written texts of some of the newly re-opened Egyptian rooms of the Museum, based on the results of the study. This activity was carried out by a joint working group composed of experts of the Ministry, of the Museum and of Eccom;
  • Production of a final report about the whole project which will be published soon.

 

During the first phase of the programme Eccom has carried out a background research on museum internal communication, based on national and international bibliographical references.

The second phase consisted in the monitoring of the Museum internal communication carried out by Eccom’s experts.

The third phase consisted in a visitor study carried out within the Museum: Eccom has realised 92 observations and 52 questionnaires and interviews.

The fourth step was the development of new texts for the museum, based on the results of the study and on the co-operation between the different members of the working group (Ministry, Museum and Eccom). These new texts have been placed in some of the recently re-opened Egyptian rooms.

At the end of the programme, a final report was written by Eccom and will be published by the Ministry; the background research carried out during the first phase of the programme has become the theoretical basis for the development of national guidelines on this issue which will be published soon.