We were Ubiquitous from Madrid to Tartu

Sharing is caring. And when it comes to annual evaluations, it's good to look back at the results and the milestones achieved, or successfully accomplished, even if at first glance the given project is for a narrow professional audience. And it is especially good to do some assessment around Christmas when we are talking about a cultural project that is particularly supportive of the efforts of the Hungarian cultural sector, namely museum institutions and libraries, so that they can deliver something with their own tools, methods and by their own professionals that is socially useful in eradicating poverty, providing quality education or reducing inequalities.

The goals listed above are all included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015, which are supposed to bring effective action to protect our planet, eradicate poverty by 2030 so as to ensure the well-being everyone is entitled to. [1].

It can be said that the domestic project in question is absolutely in line with the worldwide trend to spectacularly and effectively increase the social responsibility of museums, for which first of all museum professionals are to be moved out of their comfort zone. At the same time, they need to be supported through methodological development, professional training, sharing of good practice, exchange of experience and networking, both domestically and internationally. This type of professional help, which can directly be applied in practical work, will make professionals more open to the problems and perspectives of individuals with physical or social disadvantages and other marginalized communities, and will be able to develop inclusive museum programmes tailored to the needs of these special groups.

What makes this project particularly topical in Hungary is the fact that there are four regions in our country that are listed among the poorest in Europe. Out of the 281 regions in the 28 EU countries, the Northern Great Plain ranked 7th, Southern Transdanubia ranked 9th, Northern Hungary ranked 11th, and Southern Great Plain ranked 13th, as their average GDP is less than 50% of the EU average. [2]

But what is this project that we have kept referring to so far?

This is a large-scale EU project on the development of the Hungarian museum and library profession, which will be completed at the end of January 2020 and have been in operation for nearly three years.4


Among the many achievements this year, we would like emphasize that the professional implementers and museum network coordinators of the museum component of our project, entitled ‘Our Museum’, have taken part in six international museum conferences devoted to the topic of inclusive, socially responsible museum. In addition, at four of the six international conferences, the results of the project on the methodological development of "The chance with the museum" were presented and received with appreciation. The purpose of this methodological development is to provide museum professionals with practical guidance on the design, and successful implementation of programmes that are mostly interdisciplinary in supporting opportunities. The intensive cooperation involves external experts (special education teachers, social workers, aid organizations, professional organizations, etc.) who are thoroughly aware of the needs of the selected target groups and special methodologies to be used.

This spring, we were participating in Madrid at the 'Museum for All - Art, Accessibility and Social Engagement' conference and in Dijon in the autumn, at the conference entitled 'Diversity and Sustainability. Principles and Practices in the Field of Culture and Education’ a member of our project team presented the results. Subsequently, even at the conference ‘Museums as a place accessible to all children’ organized by the International Organization of Children's Museums in Frankfurt, one of the themes of our project's development was the focus of attention.


One of the most outstanding presentations of our project at international conferences this year was at NEMO, the Networks of European Museum Organizations, held in Tartu, Estonia on November 7-10, 2019 at the 27th Annual Conference. Sustainable development goals, such as quality education, poverty eradication, reduction of inequalities and building partnerships, were at the centre of this scientific conference. The organizers wanted to point out this with the event's subtitle ‘Museums 2030 - Sharing recipes for a better future’.

Magdolna Nagy, Project Manager and Consortium Leader for the priority project ‘Museum and Library development for Everyone’, and also director of the Museum Education and Methodology Centre (MOKK), Hungarian Open Air Museum made a presentation titled ‘How to make museums accessible to invisible communities’. In her presentation she described the complex activities MOKK and the project supporting the disadvantaged, in connection with the methodological development entitled ‘Chance with the Museum’ and the related CultureBonus pilot programme. By the end of the project, the CultureBonus will have provided access to museum knowledge content and free museum education sessions for nearly 6000 typically disadvantaged students in the Northern Hungary and Northern Great Plain regions.


Illustration of the CultureBonus pilot programme

The European Project Slam this year gave visitors an insight into another truly inspiring museum project, namely how museums can be involved in addressing issues such as violence, disadvantage, exclusion, freedom and equal opportunities. Other speakers of the theme block were from the Maribor National Liberation Museum, the Swedish Skåne Regional Museum and the Pilsen Museum of West Bohemia.

* Participation in the listed international conferences took place in the framework of the European Union project EFOP-3.3.3-VEKOP-16-2016-00001 entitled ‘Museum and Library Development for Everyone". The project implemented by a HUF 2 billion non-refundable EU grant between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2020, under the consortium leadership of the Hungarian Open Air Museum, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library Budapest. The project implementers are committed to increasing the role of equal opportunities, the convergence of disadvantaged people and creating equal access to cultural goods.

Author: Gabi Kajári, Museum Education and Methodology Centre, Hungarian Open Air Museum

Translation: Katalin Andrikó, Museum Education and Methodology Centre, Hungarian Open Air Museum

[1] The UN's 8 objectives, declared in 2000 and to be achieved by 2015, became known as the Millennium Development Goals. Although significant progress had been made, most of the objectives set out in its Declaration had not been met. Thus, after the expiration of the document, it became necessary to set up a new goals strategy, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Source: http://www.geopolitika.hu/

[2] Magdolna Nagy: Chance with the Museum - Preparing Museums to Develop the Competences of Socially Disadvantaged Groups (manuscript)

Photos: Museum Education and Methodology Centre, Hungarian Open Air Museum

Featured image from pexels.hu