Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Speakers at the International Conference for Education and Innovation in Museums called for the importance of enhancing the role of education and encouraging innovation in the museum sector to develop the visitor experience and maximize its impact in the public space.

The three-day conference, which began on Saturday, was organized by the Saudi Museums Commission in Riyadh.

The experts underscored the importance of adapting solutions to the contextual realities in every society, and launching trans-learning initiatives in many disciplines so as to enable museums to play a major role in their capacity as vital and effective civic and community spaces.

They also stressed the significance of education and innovation in supporting the aspirations of the museum sector, through the discussions and opportunities for cooperation provided by the first edition of the international conference organized by the commission in the presence of an elite group of academics and specialists from reputable and pioneering institutions around the world.

Addressing a session titled “Cooperation between museums and universities,” Prof. Adam Habib, vice chancellor of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said that the success of global solutions requires working to adapt them locally. “Confronting global challenges will not succeed by relying on knowledge systems adopted in the Western world only, but rather the world needs innovation, local experiences and adapting solutions to the contextual realities of each community,” he said.

Habib stressed that educational programs should be multiple, and include, for example, programs in museum studies, climate change, epidemiology, and fields related to the sector such as media and communication, in order to encourage the launch of cross-border learning in many specialties.

Referring to the qualitative partnership clinched between Jeddah’s Effat University and the University of London in the framework of supporting museum education, Habib said that it is a partnership under development, and a pioneering attempt under testing, designed to transcend national borders and enhance human capabilities and competencies in different contexts. “It brings down the dividing lines between universities, governments, and other stakeholders, addresses national needs in Saudi Arabia, addresses local manifestations of global challenges in many ways, and is described as an experiment to reimagine the relationship between universities and museums for the 21st century,” he added.

In her speech, Dr. Reem Al-Madani, Dean of Admissions and Registration at Effat University, said that the world’s experiment during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the capabilities of online learning on a global scale, which was not possible 20 years ago.

Al-Madani also spoke about the program launched by the Saudi Museums Commission in cooperation between Effat and London University. “The program is very unique and special as it is a product of the Museums Committee. Part of our goals is to work closely with the industry, because we want our graduates to have the skills required by this industry, which is a distinctive step, keeping pace with the goals of our university, as well as with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.”

Discussions at the conference focused on the importance of innovation in creating impactful museum experiences, connecting new generations to the heritage and cultural treasures of museums, and developing museums’ capabilities to tell their stories in an attractive and innovative way.

Dr. Angela Labrador, senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, said that innovation requires risk, which contributes to lifting museums and their performance from their current reality, and transforming some of what can be described as failures into models of success and excellence. “For innovation, we must be able to learn from our experiences and be able to evaluate our success. Together with this, our current evaluation strategies link success to engagement, and do not measure impact, and we need to rethink our evaluation strategies first and foremost.”

On his part, Eric Langham, founder of Barker Langham, highlighted the role of museums in connecting nations and societies with their histories and civilizations. “Museums are created in places to renew an entire city, to connect the nation, to diversify the economy, or for all of these things, so it is very important to understand this huge context, which is different everywhere, and we have to really understand that.”

The conference is discussing topics that will help explore the latest trends and developments in museum education and innovation, with dialogue sessions and panel discussions involving local and international experts. Attendees have the opportunity to experience modern and innovative technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, and take part in workshops, seminars and discussions on research and the latest trends in museum education and innovation.

It is noteworthy that, by organizing the conference, the Museums Commission aims to highlight the Kingdom’s cultural and historical heritage, provide a platform for communication and exchange of knowledge and the best practices among museum specialists, institutions, and related organizations, discuss innovative ideas, support museum studies globally, establish partnerships, and launch global collaborative projects in the field of museum studies.

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