Museums prepare for International Museums Day

In light of International Museum Day which takes place on Saturday, a conference was held at Prague's National Museum on Thursday to discuss the current situation of museums in the country. Dita Asiedu went along:

The biggest museums project in the last 12 years is entitled 'The Museum and Professionalism in the 21st century'. The project has been funded by the Open Society Fund in Prague and organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Czech Association of Museums and Galleries. Jan Dolak, is the association's chairman. He explained just what the project entailed:

"The goal is to increase the professionalism of the staff of museums in the Czech Republic and with that improve the prestige of museums. One part involves discussion on the standards, quality and accessibility of public services, which of course includes the cultural sector. Several government bodies have been focusing on this for months and we find it necessary to compare our situation to that abroad and even make some legislative changes. Another part of the project will be launched in October, looking at the post-Communist European countries and how their museums have transformed over the years. It's main event will be a conference called 'the Museum and Change'. It will include deep evaluation of the changes that are involved, such as massive reform in the way that collections are prioritised and labeled."

Participants from several post-Communist European countries and from the west will share their experiences and exchange ideas at the conference.

"We will also have an educational programme on museums. In the last 12 years, a lot of money has gone into security and buildings but very little has gone into people. By that I mean into the education of staff, giving them an insight into the fundamentals of museums. That is very important if we want to be able to grow and be able to adapt to change quickly and effectively. We therefore intend to open up a school in the autumn that focuses on this problem."

The conference also saw the opening of the first year of a national competition called Gloria Musealis 2002. The aim of the competition is to get museums to work harder and to support smaller museums, giving them the chance to win an award and gain some recognition. The first chance to do so will be this Saturday - International Museum Day - when most museums here in the Czech Republic will be free.