Contemporary museums as open systems are constantly transforming in response to economic, technological, social and cultural trends. The past decade has witnessed an increasing demand for information about the digitization of, access to, and preservation of museum collections to produce digital cultural heritage and new affordances for visitor-museum encounters. The post-digital turn normalizes the application of the ICTs as a basic attribute of the museum practice for preservation, collection, display and communication functions (Parry, 2010; 2013). Thus, the practitioners must be equipped with the transferable competencies to be able to successfully perform their duties and facilitate the successful digital transformation of the cultural institutions (Borowiecki & Navarrete, 2017).
The previous research into the digital competencies demonstrates the paucity in its understanding and conceptualization of digital literacy (Marty, 2006; Tallon, 2017). For example, Jisc (2014) defines it as “capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy looks beyond functional IT skills to describe a richer set of digital behaviors, practices, and identities”. This definition provides a general view of the concept and requires further elaboration and adaptation to the specificity of the museum sector. Moreover, due to the constant and speedy change, the creative industries sector experiences a permanent gap in transferrable skills (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2011; Howard, 2013). Against the background of these trends, there is a need for further investigation into digital literacy and approaches to assessment and evaluation.
The existing European (eCult Skills 2013-2015, Mu.SA project 2016-2019) and British national research projects (One by One: Building Digital Literacies 2017-2020) serve as important facilitators in addressing the existing research and practice gaps in the digital literacies and advancement of the museum sector, however, the empirically-driven conclusions are partly applicable to the Baltic and Nordic context.
The goal of this paper is to provide a nuanced understanding of how the digital skills and literacies are understood, operationalized, and supplied in the Swedish and Lithuanian museological contexts.
A conceptual model of the museum digital skills ecosystem, suggested by Parry, R., Eikhof, D. R., Barnes, S. A., & Kispeter, E. (2018) is adopted as a theoretical framework to scrutinize the landscape of the digital literacy skills in two case studies.
The paper addresses the following interrelated blocks of research questions:
1. How do national cultural policies and legislation regulate the digitalization of museums and the provision of digital literacy skills in Lithuania and Sweden?
2. How do museum practitioners understand and deploy digital literacy skills in their daily professional practices?
3. What measures are required to bridge the gap (if any) and reach the balance in demand and supply of the skills?
To depict the national peculiarities, the study will use the data from a) desk-study about the evidence on the national museum regulations and digitization in Lithuania and Sweden, and 2) qualitative research methods, based on the in-depth interviews with the museum practitioners to gain a nuanced understanding of how digital skills are developed and deployed in different structural units.
The comparative thematic analysis of Kulturarvspolitik (2017) and Museilag (2017), in Sweden; and New National Museum Decree (2018) in Lithuania will create the legislative framework for the analysis of the existing regulations and infrastructures. Furthermore, the empirical data will be obtained from the museum professionals of two national art museums: the Nationalmuseum (Stockholm), incorporating Digital Laboratory; and Lithuanian Art Museum (LAM), incorporating Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation. The choice of the museums is determined by the following factors: similarity of the institutional context - art museums; the status - both museum are national cultural institutions; and they both serve as national digital hubs, incorporating the Digital Laboratory (Nationalmuseum), and Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation (Lithuanian Art Museum).
The empirical data will benchmark the national peculiarities of the digital skills ecosystems and digitization processes in Lithuania and Sweden. The Baltic-Nordic comparative perspective will generate a consolidated view on the digitization of the museum sectors, discussing the existing threats and opportunities for digitalization, as well as supply and demand of the digital competencies.
As an outcome, a set of recommendations for the prospective collaboration and knowledge transfer will be developed. These guidelines will provide a glimpse into nationally-tailored and regional specificity of digital skills ecosystems that will address the existing gap.
Borowiecki, K. J., & T. Navarrete (2017). Digitization of Heritage Collections as Indicator of Innovation. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 26, 3, 227-246.
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