Open Heritage: Increased public accessibility to multi-ethnic heritage values in Astra Museum.
Open Heritage is a project implemented by ASTRA Museum in partnership with the Museum of South Trøndelag, Norway. The main outcome of the project consists of ethnic minorities’ heritage safeguarded, documented, promoted and made publicly accessible. The Project is promoting the concept of living museum, acting as a platform connecting the public and the ancient cultures. The buildings recovered and restored are open for visiting as living spaces featuring characteristics of ancient ways of living and allowing visitors to compare modern living conditions with ancient ones. The visitors can touch the artifacts, taste the ancient and ethnic cuisine, hear old music and learn how to use old tools. Ancient dishes can be rediscovered by the public, the old recipes are becoming ready for reinterpretation. The ancient music can influence present music and ancient dances can influence present choreographs. Also, old living spaces, old materials and old tools can influence present architects, interior designers. The traditions are experiencing a new life by stepping outside the memory of old people and outside of museums shelves. The concept can be summarized as “changing museums–changing communities–changing traditions”. The Museum is changing the old paradigm of displaying items and information, the communities are changing by discovering that the tradition still matter, which can be empowering for them, and the traditions are changing by re-entering the main stream cultural exchange.
Open Heritage received a 100% non-refundable financing in the amount of 3.500.054 Euro, from which 85% through the EEA Grants 2009-2014, and 15% representing the national contribution.
Evidence of success
18 Monuments from the museum, representative for different ethnic groups living across Romania, were reconstructed, restored and/or conserved. 2000 cultural goods were restored or conserved. The number of visitors increased from 437000 in 2015 to 621695 in 2018.
A program for heritage interpretation through cultural animations was developed and implemented. The Open Heritage could be seen as a source of inspiration for new business or new ideas leading to innovation in existing businesses.
The main challenge for the Museum was to find craftspeople mastering the old ways. Equally difficult is to find young people willing to learn the old crafts. Confronted with this challenge, the Museum had learned to advertise the personal benefits for those willing to get involved.
Potential for learning or transfer
Open Heritage was chosen as a good practice because is promoting the concept of living museum. Apart from the classical museums, where visitor cannot interact with the items on display, Open Heritage is acting as a platform connecting public and cultures. In order to do so, the buildings recovered and restored are open for visiting not only as architectural items, from outside, but also from inside as living spaces featuring characteristics of ancient ways of living and allowing the visitors to compare modern living conditions with the ancient ones. Also, its approach is allowing visitors not only to touch the artifacts but also to taste the ancient and ethnic cuisine during specific events, to hear the old music, to learn how to use old tools during craft events. While the old communities are providing there tradition and culture, the Museum is certifying the origin of those tradition, is documenting them and is bringing them close to the public, making it easier to interact with.