Open Doors. Participatory Museums Today




25 May 2022






Editors’ Pick

Open Doors. Participatory Museums Today

Fondazione Brescia Musei will host the opening session of the talk cycle “Open Doors. Participatory museums today,” nine meetings with leading experts in management and valorization of Italian and international cultural heritage and contemporary cultures, curated by Pier Luigi Sacco, Professor at the Università degli Studi ‘Gabriele d’Annunzio’ of Chieti – Pescara, former Visiting Professor at Harvard University.

During the opening event, which will also include a speech by Doris Sommer, director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, the scientific criteria and guidelines for the nine-part program will be presented. Leading experts from Italian and international contemporary museums and cultural centers will offer a comprehensive reflection on the concept of museum as a participatory space and on the tools, techniques, and best practices for involving communities and activating them in a continuous dialogue between museum content and the major current issues mediated by cultural heritage.

The aim of the project is to activate a workshop open to insiders, but of interest to the entire community, given the role that museums are increasingly taking on as spaces for building citizenship, beyond any possible educational or socio-economic barriers.

Eight key areas have been identified, in which we can structure, in the light of current experiences, the paths necessary to transform the museum into a real space of social exchange based on active participation: Cohesion and social connection; Empowerment; Education; Diversity; Wellbeing and healing; Creativity and expression; Co-creation; Engagement and problem solving.

Museums must be able to offer forms of knowledge that challenge and puzzle the visitor, while at the same time creating ways and opportunities for visitors to express themselves actively, to engage in stimulating conversations with curators, experts and other visitors, to question, and if appropriate, challenge the points of view they are presented with.

“If museums are be able to effectively and knowledgeably preside over these areas of active participation their social role will be considered on a par with that of schools and hospitals, and will no longer be seen as elitist spaces where rituals of social distinction are continually renewed, but as contexts where access to knowledge and its dissemination becomes an increasingly collective process.” writes Professor Pierluigi Sacco, curator of the project, in a note to the press. “This process is not a leap in the dark, it is a feasible and necessary transition, as shown by the dozens of experiences and proposals that will be presented in Brescia during the Open Doors programme: the world of museums, from the most central and important to the smallest and geographically marginal institutions can make this transition towards becoming museums understood as spaces for active participation.”

The most prestigious and important museum institutions on the Italian and international cultural scene have been invited to participate and propose perspectives and case studies.
Confirmed participants from Italy include Casa Paganini in Genoa; Caserma Archeologica in Sansepolcro, Castello di Rivoli, the Cultural Welfare Center, FARM Cultural Park, Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, Fondazione Maxxi, Fondazione Matera – Basilicata 2019, GAMEC, Bergamo; MiC – Ministry of Culture | Office of the Diplomatic Advisor; the Moleskine Foundation; Mudac in Carrara; the Museo Civico di Bassano – Operaestate Festival; the Museo Egizio in Turin; the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (Department of Culture); and the network Lo Stato dei Luoghi.
International participants include the Chester Beatty Library of Dublin (IR), the City Museums and Galleries of Nottingham (UK), the Gallery of Matica Srpska of Novi Sad (RS), Manifacture di Avignon (FR), Mapadasideias of Lisbon (PT), Museo de Lisboa (PT), Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb (HR), the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen di Amsterdam (NL), the POLIN Museum of Warsaw (PL), the Science Center Esplora of Malta (MT), the United Cities and Local Governments di Barcellona network (SP), University of Pennsylvania of Philadelphia (USA) and Zeeuws Museum of Middelburg (NL).

The project is organised by Fondazione Brescia Musei in collaboration with Fondazione Scuola dei beni e delle attività culturali and NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations, under the patronage of ICOM Italia – International Council of Museums; Federculture; Centro Universitario Europeo per i Beni Culturali of Ravello (SA); AICI – Association of Italian Cultural Institutions; Associazione Mecenate 90; Associazione Abbonamento Musei Lombardia; ANCI – Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani.

The talks will be held at the Auditorium of Santa Giulia in Brescia, (booking: and they will be live streamed at Participation is free. All the events will be simultaneously translated into Italian, English and LIS (Italian Sign Language).


25 May 2022 – 4.30 pm
Opening event

08 June 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation for unity
Museums can become a centre of social cohesion and a safe and welcoming space for all those suffering discrimination and marginalisation.

15 June 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation for possibility
Museums can become a space of empowerment, where awareness of our human potential and the capacity to develop it can be cultivated.

22 June 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation for education
Museums have always been important educational institutions whose mission today is growing increasingly extensive and multifaceted, helping today’s citizens to face and navigate the growing complexities of our world.

29 June 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation for creating dialogue between differences
Cultural differences have always been one of the primary resources of humankind, and museums are the place that allows experimentation of new forms of dialogue and mutual encounter.

28 September 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation for wellbeing
Scientific evidence is confirming that culture can have very positive effects on psychological and physical wellbeing. Museums can therefore also become spaces where people can enjoy a sense of wellbeing.

19 October 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation to help us be creative
Creativity is not only about intuition. Being creative is also about being constantly open to new ideas and new points of view. Museums are spaces to be discovered and that allow us to develop our creative potential day after day.

09 November 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation as co-creation
New digital technologies offer us ever more possibilities to make and create together, developing our collective intelligence. Museums are spaces allowing us to try our hand with these new possibilities and their exciting potential.

23 November 2022 – 4.30 pm
Participation as a solution to collective problems
Culture has always helped human beings solve important issues addressing them from different perspectives. Museums can also become the place where we can together design more effective solutions to our everyday problems.

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