The museum world is constantly undergoing change and transformation, whether in response to economic, technological, social and cultural trends or professional advances. Museums are no longer the closed systems they used to be in the twentieth-century. Present day museums are increasingly becoming parts of a wider system of relationships, creating frameworks that multiply opportunities for wider participation, accessibility and exchange. Rapid technological advancements did not leave the museum sector untouched; quite the contrary: for the ones who took the challenge, it opened new opportunities. “It’s very difficult to predict what the future holds for museums over the next ten years”, says Anne Krebs, head of research at the Louvre Museum, but one feature is obvious – undoubtedly they are heading towards digital and social innovation.

For museums to become the agents of change adequate professional development is crucial. Museum professionals should be equipped with the appropriate skill-sets needed to respond to the ever-changing needs of society.  Based on the previous eCult Skills  project, the Mu.SA – Museum Sector Skills Alliance consortium has been investigating what are the necessary skills and competences to support museum professionals in their digital transformation journey.

How to support museum professionals to thrive in the digital environment? What are the digital and transferable competences in the museum sector? Three focus groups organised by the Mu.SA project in Greece, Italy and Portugal identified the digital and transferable competences and updated the eCult Skills job profiles. Numerous interviews with museum directors, heads of communication, project managers, policy makers, ICT companies and media managers across Europe gave useful insights on the needs of museum professionals. As a result, four emerging role profiles have been identified:  Digital Strategy Manager, Digital Collections Curator, Online Community Manager, Digital Interactive Experience Developer

In parallel, partners responsible for developing the training with Mu.SA have undertaken a desk research and an online survey to map out existing training provisions for museum professionals to develop digital and transferable skills. The research results will inform the building of training path (massive open online course (MOOC), e-learning, face to face and workplace learning) to avoid a mismatch between the job market and professional needs.

The research highlighted the importance of a mental shift/cultural change in terms of planning and visioning services, so that the digital element becomes an integral part of the thinking from the outset. The upper management level has to envision the digital as an element to develop meaningful relationships with new and existing audiences in line with the museum’s mission.
Museums need to work on their digital transformation plan starting from their vision, asking why they want to invest in technological assets, and setting up shared goals, allocating adequate financial and human resources, based on audience research and users’ need analysis.

Adequate investment should be sought in continuous up-skilling and re-skilling when it comes to new technology for all the museum staff in accordance with their existing roles and tasks. Many of the functions and competences attributed to the emerging job profiles should be embedded in the context of a team.

The Mu.SA training programmes aim at developing both hard/digital and transferable skills for ICT related jobs for Museum professionals. The plan is to support museums in providing staff with the right skills, with the ultimate goal of striking a balance between social, cultural and economical priorities and impact.
Linda Volkers, Marketing Manager, Rijksmuseum, argues that we can’t make a prediction but… “What I do see is that museums need to change their behaviour. They should be able to share their collections more and with less restrictions. Of course we are custodians of our collections, but we need to bring them to the audience.” The report will be published soon.

By Antonia Silvaggi , Melting Pro Learning