STUDIO i is now in its second project year, and we have seen the museum landscape change considerably of late. Having started two years ago, the discussion on the meaning and value of inclusiveness is now high on everyone’s agenda. The Amsterdam Museum is questioning the concept of the Golden Age, the Rijksmuseum has appointed a diversity manager and an accessibility manager, and the Amsterdam Arts Council has taken the initiative of including the ‘Art, Cultural Diversity and Inclusiveness’ advisory report in its 2019 Verkenning (Exploration). Briefly put, policy makers, cultural institutions and museums are aware of their tasks and responsibilities towards inclusiveness. Moreover, discussions are being held on the various ways in which we need to hold each other and ourselves measurably responsible for the extent to which we are truly inclusive and accessible. STUDIO i is happy to be part of this.
At the same time, reality is often problematic. Because all too often, as Feenstra states in this publication, inclusiveness and accessibility remain the principal responsibility of a single department. Usually these are the Education and Public Service department (Feenstra uses the term ‘visitor service’), because they are simply assumed to know most about the various target audiences within the organisation and/or they are primarily concerned with the public. An added benefit of the Education department is of course the fact that this department knows better than any other which methods are available to teach people (i.e. the rest of the organisation) in a didactic way, and to incorporate the organisation in the story. Furthermore, educational projects geared towards inclusiveness and accessibility are easy to finance because there are various funds that also recognise the importance of these themes. Feenstra cites the above as an example of a pragmatic approach.
And of course this approach is also necessary. Initiatives such as Museums in Sign Language, STUDIO i and Van Gogh Connects are fantastic projects that reach beyond the project itself. They all have a major impact on the entire organisation. However, as Feenstra contends, when inclusiveness is seen as a process that the whole organisation can embrace, so much more becomes possible. The big question is how?
In her article, Feenstra opts to use a perspective from marketing theory; the so-called ‘customer journey’, or ‘visitor journey’. This provides a refreshing framework, allowing us as museums to look comprehensively at ways of relating to our audience. How can we be instrumental in the success of this journey? How can we act decisively and positively in this matter, and how can we work together on it? As far as we are concerned, not only is this integrated collaboration internal, it is also external; with other museums, cultural institutions and policy officers. STUDIO i wants to share these processes and learn from them.
We are looking forward to it!