About this good practice
During the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki (MBC) focused on maintaining its contact with the public by inventing various online actions, aiming to educate & entertain, through interaction, children & adults, students & teachers, but also families too. Initially, the 10 involved employees of MBC invited the public through its website & social media to “embrace” its digital activities & visit its website, library/multimedia with videos of all of its previous years' temporary exhibitions, and scientific conferences which were organized by MBC, as well as scientific & educational digital editions, that were all posted on the website. At the same time, the MBC posted on an almost daily or weekly basis on Facebook photos of items from its collections & permanent exhibitions with interesting & attractive explanatory comments; videos from its temporary exhibitions; educational videos about the conservation of artifacts & cultural goods, including digital exhibitions with 3D representations; videos related to the lack of contact with nature, associating it with a sculpture from its permanent exhibition depicting scenes from life in nature; etc. Young & old Museum’s digital visitors had the opportunity to participate in numerous actions & interact in different ways and with themes of wider interest, and to be educated through training programs on various areas & aspects of the Byzantine Cultural Heritage.
The activities were organized online, on own funds and means of the Museum, and were offered free of charge for the public. They involved diversified entertainment, along with education, without further investments, and required good planning & coordination on behalf of the museum’s human resources.
Evidence of success
The initiatives enriched the museum's relationship with the public; promoted byzantine culture education to both adults & children; had an impressive impact on the Museum itself since it was a great chance to better familiarize with ICT & social media, enhance & improving the digital channel of communication with its friends & visitors, incl. creating new ones; increased the number of followers (1500 followers, 10%), esp. women significantly; provided grounds for cultural tourism development.
Potential for learning or transfer
COVID-19 pandemic showed that communication & cultural engagement are both feasible & fertile even without physical presence. MBC managed to develop ICT skills & enhance its ability to practice effective communication with the public in difficult situations. All initiatives enriched Museum's relationship with the public; underlined the importance of virtual access to museum treasures; provided access to peoples’ cultural expressions; presented the invaluable contribution of culture to helping people through the pandemic crisis; illustrated the social function of culture & the positive impact of experimenting with cultural treasures that have a vital power for humans; contributed to promoting cultural heritage; strongly enabled cultural & heritage tourism, incl. sustainable tourism, creating benefits to all sides; noted culture as a means of communication & protection against stress & an opportunity for reviving artistic creation & cultural education through digital dissemination.