The future of museums will be digital or it will not be … But it will not stop being “face-to-face”. This is the main conclusion reached by two of the top managers of the Thyssen museums, Evelio Acebedo and Lourdes Moreno, in the “dialogue” on the effects of the pandemic in the cultural sector organized in Valencia by the Ernest Lluch-Ivie Foundation.
But beware, this digitization process that is already “unstoppable” will not only consist of “To transfer what we have from the room to digital, but to create new activities for new formats and new audiences,” warned Moreno, who is artistic director of the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga.. “A museum must continue to be a museum with its museum model, but in a broader concept in which digital is a lever that enhances the presence,” added Acebedo, managing director of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation.
At the presentation of the act, held in the Bancaja Foundation, the Director of Research of the Ivie, Joaquín Maudos, spoke of the double pressure -that of the restrictions and that of technological change-, which has caused the pandemic in the cultural sector, but also the “new opportunities” and “new needs” that have emerged in these months.
“When the pandemic and confinement occurred, it was thought that the change was going to be more abrupt and decided than we are experiencing,” Moreno added. “We have seen that there is a coexistence of the face-to-face and the digital and an acceptance that digital will be increasingly important, but that it will gradually adapt “.
For the artistic manager of the Thyssen in Malaga, this adaptation does not mean simply showing museum works on the web. “The experience in the room cannot be supplanted,” he proclaimed. Digital content must be released “expressly” with the capacity to connect with new and “more diverse” audiences.
Acebedo recalled how the pandemic and, above all, the confinement forced the Thyssen Foundation to ‘improvise’ a digital transformation which had already started but whose course had to be changed in this time. “We realized that digitization was not just uploading conferences and content to the web as some things worked better than others. Digital requires a specific language, “he said.
Given this, the Madrid museum has already created an artistic team specialized in digital content to work on a present in which mounting an international “physical” exhibition is, according to Acebedo, “increasingly difficult and more expensive” due to the cost of transport or insurance, among other reasons. For this reason, museums “will have to accommodate themselves to a new reality, so digital exhibitions, even purely digital ones, will become increasingly important “announced the manager.
It will be a slow transformation, Moreno added, and it will not be easy, added Acebedo, who also spoke about how to profit from these “digital exhibits”. According to the manager of the foundation, the content offered through the web must be of sufficient quality and originality to justify charging visitors and monetize an initial investment that will not offer imminent income.
For this, it will be necessary for cultural institutions to have capitalist partners -or patrons-, and teams of specialists. “I would love that the contents of the Thyssen can be seen in Netflix and HBOThat’s what we have to go for, but that requires an investment. ”
Recording a video is not enough
Regarding how specialized digital content should be, both the artistic manager of the Thyssen in Malaga and the economic manager in Madrid insisted that “it is not enough for you to record a space with a video, but go to products that make you feel like you are in the museum and that also enrich your visit with documents, videos or testimonials. ”
Acebedo gave as an example the virtual visits that the foundation already offers on its website where, in addition to showing the collection or temporary exhibitions, they are offered content such as the underlying images of the paintings that a “face-to-face” visitor will not find.
But, as Moreno warned, the number of museums that can offer their collections with digital content of this type is currently “quite low”. Indeed, if, for example, you take a look at the website of the Fine Arts of València, you will be able to see various pieces from its collection and videos of specialists talking about recent works or exhibitions. On the IVAM website, we don’t even find videos of this type.
In conclusion, the pandemic has driven the need to digitize museums and, according to the two speakers, has also shown the resilience of Spanish cultural centers, although some have had to close. Even so, Acevedo criticized the “nineteenth-century structure” of cultural management in Spain and demanded that the institutions “think about the needs of the public, withT. Moreno insisted that the State should truthfully consider that culture is one of the main industries in the country and generates a lot of wealth. “It is our biggest joint venture,” he said.