European museum sector publishes recommendations for AI development in museums to policymakers

European museum sector publishes recommendations for AI development in museums to policymakers

Person presenting at the Museum and AI conference

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The three recommendations for policymakers aim to support museums in leveraging their potential in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and define their role in its rapid advancement.

The recommendations were presented to policymakers from local, national, and European levels at the international conference “Innovation and Integrity: Museums paving the way in an AI-driven society,” held on 20 March 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. They urge policymakers to develop a political vision and regulatory framework for museums in the context of AI progress. The potential of museums as partners in the development of ethical practices related to emerging technologies should be recognised. Financial resources and long-term funding must be allocated for infrastructure, equipment, and training of staff to ensure that AI is successfully applied in the Public Cultural Domain. Furthermore, a European competency hub should be established to bring together expertise and practices, knowledge and resources from experts and practitioners for the sector.

Co-organised by NEMO – the Network of European Museum Organisations, FARO, ICOM Wallonie-Brussels, ICOM Flanders and the House of European History, the conference aimed to facilitate discussions on AI’s role in museums, ensuring that the sector proactively shapes its integration. Museums must actively engage in dialogues surrounding AI’s impact on visitors and society, leveraging their trusted status to provide accurate information and counter misinformation in public discourse.

Recommendations to policy makers regarding AI and museums

  1. A political Vision for Museums and Cultural Heritage in an AI driven Society
    Recognising the unique position of museums and cultural heritage as pillars of trust within society, it is imperative to integrate them into a regulatory framework. Artificial intelligence in museums needs to be addressed and shaped so that technological developments do not simply reshape museums from the outside. Collaborative efforts between governments, regulatory bodies, and museum professionals can ensure that museums play a pivotal role in the development of ethical practices related to emerging technologies.
  2. Financial Investments to apply AI successfully in the Public Cultural Domain
    Financial resources must be allocated for infrastructure, equipment and highly qualified human resources, enhancing museums’ professional capacities. AI needs to source high-quality, interoperable data and properly described metadata. Copyright issues must be resolved. Museum professionals need adequate skills to perform these tasks, to keep pace with rapidly evolving AI capabilities and to address sector-specific concerns. Furthermore, standing commitments to support the cultural heritage sector should be expanded to ensure the quality and quantity of digitalisation required by Cultural Heritage Data Spaces and the European Collaborative Cultural Heritage Cloud.
  3. Establishment of a European AI Innovation Hub for Cultural Heritage
    To foster creativity, innovation and collaboration, to centralise expertise and knowledge and to face challenges for the sector associated with AI, there is a need for a dedicated competency centre in Europe. This space would serve as a hub to bring together expertise and practices, knowledge and resources in a network of and for professionals, ensuring digital innovation and development across the diverse European Cultural heritage sector – in alignment with the values of human-centred design, privacy, and open-source practices.

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