Experts and partners joined CHARTER Think Tank on Future Scenarios in Cultural Heritage in Berlin

Experts and partners joined CHARTER Think Tank on Future Scenarios in Cultural Heritage in Berlin

Group photo of the participants of the CHARTER Think Tank in Berlin.
On 12 September 2023, experts and CHARTER Alliance project partners gathered for the CHARTER Think Tank on Future Scenarios in Cultural Heritage at the Museum for Communication in Berlin, Germany, to discuss challenges and opportunities for the cultural heritage sector in relation to digital technologies, circular economy, climate change and geo-strategic dynamics.

The one-day CHARTER Think Tank was co-organised by the CHARTER partners NEMO – the Network of European Museum Organisations and Kultur und Arbeit e.V., together with the University of Gothenburg and ERRIN – European Regions Research and Innovation Network. About 35 people joined the structured dialogue to discuss future scenarios for the cultural heritage sector, its agents, and occupations. The Think Tank focused on four themes, and for each theme an external expert and a member of the CHARTER External Advisory Board were invited to give presentations. The four themes included:

  1. Digital technologies
  2. Circular economy
  3. Climate change: green and blue challenges
  4. Geo-strategic dynamics

Expert input on four focus areas at the CHARTER Think Tank

The CHARTER Think Tank started with opening speeches by Lluís Bonet, University of Barcelona and CHARTER Coordinator, Maria Merseburger, Head of PR Museum of Communication Berlin, David Vuillaume, Chair of NEMO and Director of German Museum Association, Astrid Hannes, ERRIN European Regions Research and Innovation Network, and Gunnar Almevik, University of Gothenburg.

Presenter Maaike Verberk in front of the seated audience at the CHARTER Think Tank in Berlin.

Maaike Verberk, DEN Kennisinstituut cultuur & digitale transformative, was the first expert on stage. After sharing her views on future scenarios on digital transformation, Conxa Rodà, Open University of Catalonia, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, added her remarks and thoughts on digital as a transformative driver in cultural heritage.

Maaike Verberk mentioned AI, immersive experiences and audience experiences through digital technologies as emerging digital technologies that may impact the cultural heritage sector. Both Verberk and Rodà welcome collaborations and exchange between the CH sector and other sectors, such as tech startups and gaming companies, to encourage more innovative and flexible working methods.

Presenters Bénédicte Selfslagh and Lejla Hadzic, in front of the seated audience at the CHARTER Think Tank in Berlin.

In the session on geo-strategic dynamics at the CHARTER Think Tank, Bénédicte Selfslagh, ICOMOS, supported the invited expert Lejla Hadzic, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Lejla Hadzic gave a presentation on Albania’s response to the earthquake in 2019 and shared learnings from working with the 40 million euro revitalization package “EU4Culture”.

As for emerging trends in this field, Hadzic suggested three combinations of skills concerning Conservation coupled with risk management, Functionalities of sites enhanced using digital interpretation as well as Cultural heritage management and business planning affecting decision making.

Presenters Jane Downes and Johanna Leissner in front of the seated audience at the CHARTER Think Tank in Berlin.

In the session on climate change and green and blue challenges, invited expert Jane Downes, University of the Highlands and ICOMOS, proposed that climate literacy needs to be improved amongst heritage professionals. Not only for them to understand how CH is impacted by climate change, but also to ensure that cultural heritage can communicate and convey the urgency to the wider public. Moreover, capacity development and upskilling are needed to enable cultural heritage institutions and practitioners to incorporate climate change planning and risk assessments into their work.

Johanna Leissner, Fraunhofer Society / Kultur und Arbeit e.V., stepped on the stage and, amongst others, suggested that climate change and sustainability should be part of all future heritage trainings.

Presenters Jerminia Stanojev and Antonia Gravagnuolo in front of the seated audience at the CHARTER Think Tank in Berlin.

Jerminia Stanojev, Uppsala University, supported invited expert Antonia Gravagnuolo, Italian National Research Council (IRISS), who had been invited to give presentation on the last theme of the day: circular economy. Gravagnuolo explained that circular economy aims to change the way in which we produce and use goods and services. Along these lines, we should think of CH as an ecosystem. Rather than being a sector on its own, CH is part of a large ecosystem. Therefore, she argued that CH needs to build better synergies and cooperations with other sectors to develop innovative circular solutions using compatible technologies. This requires evaluation skills and participatory decision support skills, which calls for more entrepreneurship as well as innovative and cooperation skills.

After the four presentations and a summary by Alison Heritage, ICCROM, the participants were divided into four groups to reflect on the input and discuss upskilling opportunities. The groups got to discuss the following topics based on a persona assigned to them: Policy design and regulation, Participatory leadership and management, Sustainability in built heritage and landscape as well as Craft and knowledge.

People are sitting in small groups at three separate tables to do group work at the CHARTER Think Tank.

The CHARTER Think Tank was wrapped up with presentations by each group in plenary and concluding remarks by Dietmar Wiegand, Kultur und Arbeit e.V..

The outcomes of the Think Tank will feed into the upcoming project report on overall sector integrated dynamics and future scenarios. It will summarise and illustrate the range of challenges and opportunities for the CH sector due to climate change, transformation to the circular economy, digital information, and communication technologies and will contribute to identify the upskilling and reskilling possibilities of cultural heritage in relation to other sectors.

Additional programme of the CHARTER Think Tank Berlin

The full programme stretched from 11-13 September. On Monday 11 September CHARTER project partners had the opportunity to meet with their Work Package colleagues in parallel meetings. Before the dinner and in preparation for the Think Tank the following day, there was also a session to brief the experts, discussants, facilitators and rapporteurs.

On 13 September, participants were invited to the Humbolt Forum to learn more about the museum and visit the Berlin Global exhibition. Jan Linders, Head of Programme at the Humboldt Forum, and Brinda Sommer, Head of Programme Curatorial Team of Stadtmuseum Berlin, gave an introduction to the Humbolt Forum’s activities.

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