Poll finds region’s museums in optimistic spirits, despite the challenges of lockdown, as they reopen to the general public
89 percent think pandemic has accelerated need to innovate; 79 percent actively exploring technology to enhance visitor experiences
Museums feel the role of heritage institutions has undergone a significant shift, with more emphasis on community outreach, tackling loneliness and greater inclusivity
Reboot Cornwall initiative launched to support and celebrate region’s rich museum and heritage sector and showcase examples of innovative visitor experiences
The need for museums to innovate and harness the power of technology has been rapidly accelerated by the global pandemic, a survey by the Cornwall Museums Partnership reveals today.
As they reopen to the public, 79 percent of museums and heritage venues in Cornwall claimed they are now actively exploring how technology can help them to futureproof their offering, while 89 percent said the pandemic had dramatically accelerated the need to innovate.
The biggest concerns affecting museums in Cornwall in the lead up to reopening, have been logistical issues such as space, capacity and social distancing (86 percent concerned) and funding issues and economic uncertainty (78 percent concerned). Roughly half of the respondents reported feeling anxious about permanent closure, reduced opening hours and job losses.
But overall, Cornish museums are buoyant and optimistic about the future. Although 82 percent anticipate that the pandemic has changed visitor expectations of museums in some way, 92 percent are reportedly feeling positive about the future prospects of their own venues, and the wider cultural sector in Cornwall,
When asked about their impact in a post-pandemic world, 79 percent of museums said they envisage playing more of an active role within local communities. Many expect a high level of contribution to education and youth development (89 percent) and to tourism and economic recovery (79 percent), while others highlighted the important role cultural venues will play in tackling loneliness (67 percent) and leading the way towards a more inclusive culture (60 percent).
To welcome visitors back, museums across the county are launching a range of new and innovative experiences, incorporating the latest in AI, machine learning and immersive technologies, as part of Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Reboot Cornwall initiative. Supported by the University of Exeter, the initiative is designed to shine a spotlight on some of the most exciting and pioneering visitor experiences being developed by the region’s museums and heritage venues.
Emmie Kell, CEO at Cornwall Museums Partnership, commented: “This study shows that Cornish museums have shown both great adaptability and resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. Attitudes around heritage, new technology and the role of museums as important hubs in their local communities are evolving very rapidly in Cornwall and it’s exciting to see our museums leading the way for both innovation and greater inclusivity. We are really excited to be launching the Reboot Cornwall initiative, to get behind our museum and heritage sector as it gets back on its feet and showcase some of the fantastic experiences being offered to visitors in the coming months.
Julia Twomlow, Creative Director and CEO of PK Porthcurno – Museum of Global Communications, added: “More than ever, we have come to understand and appreciate the vital role of new technology in keeping people connected, safe and working. As a museum in a rural location, we believe we have an important part to play, using our history, expertise, buildings and resources to help revitalise and strengthen our community as we emerge from the pandemic. New technology will be a key part of this new way of working.”
Senior members and leaders at over half of all Cornish museums took part in the survey, which was carried out by Cornwall Museums Partnership to examine how the pandemic has impacted on the heritage sector in Cornwall and explore how new technology will reshape visitor experiences when tourists can return to the Duchy this spring and summer.
To find out more about the Reboot Cornwall initiative and to discover some of the region’s most innovative visitor experiences in museums, visit https://www.museumsincornwall.org.uk/rebootCornwall/ and follow the #RebootCornwall hashtag on Twitter.