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When is a museum digital?

On the 10th of June 2015, the Directorate-General of Museums and Ales Spa took part in Social Media Week Rome with a workshop on social and digital museums at the time of the cultural heritage reform. The aim of the day? To debate the challenges to undertake in order to improve the impact of state museums on the web.

MuD Museo Digitale - Social Media Week Rome

The day began with Manuel Roberto Guido – Director of Department II – who introduced the theme of the Museum Reform, which focuses on the creation of a National Museum System, entrusting management to the Directorate-General of Museums and concentrating on the matter of development.

Looking at the work carried out by MiBACT in relation to the web, Maria Teresa Natale of the Technological Observatory for Cultural Heritage (OTEBAC), presented the encouraging results obtained with Museo&web – an open source CMS dedicated entirely to museums, and with MOVIO –   an application to create virtual exhibitions.

Thanks to the changes underway and recommencing from the excellent results obtained by OTEBAC, the MuD team took the opportunity to ask the audience of experts and operators in the sector a question: When is a museum digital?

“When it attracts people who would have never walked through the door of a museum.”
“When technology is applied and used to make a museum more and more accessible.”
“Digital Museums are synonymous with participation and information.”

See contributions at

We put the same question to Livia Iacolare of Twitter Italia: “A museum is digital when it uses these tools to knock down doors and build bridges with the outside world”. Twitter promotes museum culture every year with #MuseumWeek, an event which invites Museums from all over the world to talk to each other and to users, discussing the more or less technical subjects that concern them.

“Internet and digital platforms can make a decisive contribution to the dissemination of culture”. This is how Enrico Bellini from Google introduced an overview of the work carried out by the Google Cultural Institute and the various high-quality technologies made available to the partner museums in order to reach new audiences: the Art Project with works of art available in gigapixel; Historical moments for online exhibitions; World Wonders which uses Streetview technology to map cultural places.

How can digital tools bring people closer to museums and create participation? The answer comes from Fabrizio Todisco and Marianna Marcucci who, with Invasioni Digitali, have organised over 1000 events in three years, all over Italy, to communicate cultural heritage in a different and involving way. Lots of peaceful invasions to help people understand that museums can be fun, and to help museums see that communicating through the social networks can be effective.

Alessandro Bollo draws the conclusions: “Today, a museum is digital when it uses tools but also the social and cultural context to launch processes of innovation and change that are consistent with its mission. Audience development and digital technology are the “Wooden horse of Troy” for the production of radical changes within cultural structures.”

The complete video of the workshop (available in Italian):