Museum of Gothenburg

Karl Arvidsson

Head, Learning, Programmes and Visitor

Museum of Gothenburg

Norra Hamngatan 12 411 14 Gothenburg Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden

Swedish Museum of the Year 2014 Award

Inclusion Leads To More Inclusion

The Author studied to be an archaeologist, but ended up studying and working with audiences in various ways. Since 2000 he´s been working in different culture departments and museums in West Sweden. In September 2013 he became the head of the Department of Learning, Programmes and Visitor Services at The Museum of Gothenburg. Previous to this commitment he was the project manager and producer of the exhibition The Children’s Museum at the same museum. He is a keen believer of lifelong learning, the ability of the audience and the importance of cooperation inside and outside the museums walls.

15goth3xAbout the Museum the Museum of Gothenburg
The Museum of Gothenburg´s mission is to create connections between Gothenburg's history, present and future. The collections, in dialogue with the outside world, form the basis of our work.

Museum of the Year in 2014
The Association of Swedish Museums along with Swedish ICOM are responsible for the administration of the Museum of the Year award. The purpose of the award is to recognize excellent museum practices and to inspire other museums to innovative and pioneering activities of good quality.

In April 2014 a very nervous delegation from Gothenburg were at the Spring Meeting for Swedish museums in the city of Umea. We were nominees to the title Museum of the Year and we knew who we were competing against, two exceptional museums from the cities of Malmö and Umea. In the main auditorium at the Peoples House the announcer finally told the assembly that The Museum of Gothenburg was named Museum of the Year and we were of course delighted (massively happy, that is).

The jury motivation
“A classical City Museum that has made a broad impact through courage to dare in an innovative work that has touched and changed many people's lives and the broader debate in society. By highlighting the social dimension, norm perspective and everyone's history, Rome san, a project of an ethnic group in today's multicultural Sweden radically changed the museum's way of working and demonstrates that the added value and the force a museum can give and be in the local community, for individuals and respect for the equal dignity and rights.”

We actually made a grand slam that day, also winning The Exhibition of the Year and being the host of the Educational Project of the Year!
The Exhibition of the Year was as mentioned above called Rom San – We are Roma, and was one of the main reasons the jury selected our museum.

A proud Director of the Museum of Gothenburg
In an interview after the award ceremony the director of the museum, Cornelia Lönnroth said:
- It feels great! We are so excited and honored for the Museum of the Year Award and that Rom san - We are Roma became the Exhibition of the Year. It feels like we have managed to transform an old cultural institution into a museum, which is active in the present. The audience come in greater numbers to us and thinks that we are relevant and do important work. We got these prices and it makes me very proud and will give new energy to the whole museum. With our new experiences, we are now proceeding with a wider participation. Our goal is to create a museum that matters for all people in Gothenburg and the rest of the world!

15goth2xAbout Rom san – We are Roma
This is an English summary from the evaluation made by the project manager and elistra consulting.
Rom san was a two-year ESF-funded project (Priority Area 1, Improving Human Capital) at The Museum of Gothenburg initiated by the Romani association Romer för kulturell utveckling in cooperation with two journalists and a photographer. Project owner for Rom san was The Museum of Gothenburg. The overarching goal of the project has been to combat anti-Gypsy attitudes in society by awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing activities directed to both Roma and non-Roma.

The on-going evaluation has taken place in continuous dialogue with the project workers. A report presents results and effects on the basis of the project objectives. The report discusses lessons learned, challenges and success factors in a wider Romani inclusion perspective.

The project has been of benefit to – and has benefitted from – the on-going work on Romani inclusion in the city of Gothenburg which has involved partnerships and collaborations with a range of actors on a regional level. Rom san has also given rise to several multiplicator effects.
The evaluation shows that Rom san has contributed to increased knowledge and understanding of the historic and contemporary situation of the Roma people. 1 706 people from various occupational backgrounds in West Sweden have been offered a special half-day course designed for the target groups including lectures, displaying of the exhibition ”We are Roma” and dialogues with Roma pedagogues. The exhibition was visited by 130 000 people and stimulated public debate on Roma issues. Romani role models have been exposed through portraits, personal narratives and films reflecting the diversity within Romani communities. The work has also led to an increased awareness among Roma of their rights. By preserving history from a Roma perspective the project has promoted the cultural rights of the Romani people. The Museum of Gothenburg has discovered new ways of working. An important tool for ensuring the redistribution of power and influence has been the right of veto for the Roma project workers.

“The Museum of Gothenburg has discovered new ways of working”
Almost two years ago we talked about what would come after Rom san. We wanted to continue in the same spirit. The museum had been contacted by various interest groups for functional variations over the years. That had led to some minor collaborations. What if we went all in this time – Culture for all, for real? We contacted and got project partners and an in-house project manager. We applied and received funding from the Swedish Inheritance Fund and the project Funktek was born.

About Funktek
This is how we think: Culture should belong to everyone. Therefor it should be available to everyone.
The purpose of the Funktek project is to ensure that everyone can visit and experience museums. Everyone has the right to be a part of, and to help create culture. But for people with a function variation, many museums are difficult to visit. The Museum of Gothenburg is one of them. We want to change this.

This is why we want people with function variation, to examine and analyse the exhibitions and programmes of the museum from the point of view of their function variation. To be our Funktek test pilots. We need their knowledge and experience, to help us create a better and more accessible museum. During the three years of the project we will be testing new technological ideas and solutions. We do not want to find separate, individual solutions. We want to find solutions. We want more people to experience and enjoy the museum’s exhibitions under the same conditions.

Try again...
Inclusion leads to more inclusion might have been a rather bold title of the article. Maybe trying to work with inclusion leads to more tries to work with inclusion is more appropriate. Can you ever work with complete and total inclusion? Well, if we don´t try we´ll never know, will we?


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