On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at the Diachroniko (Diachronous) Museum of Larissa, the Infoday on “Digital cultural heritage management and digital skills for museum professionals” took place with great success. The Infoday was organized by the DAISSy research group of the Hellenic Open University, with the support of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Larissa, the Deputy Mayor of Culture and Sciences of the Municipality of Larissa, the “Hippocrates in Larissa” Association and the “Larissa – Learning City” initiative, with the support of European project Mu.SA. The staff of the Public Relations Department and the Larissa Annex of HOU contributed significantly to the success of the Infoday.
Project Mu.SA – Museum Sector Alliance is funded by the Erasmus + / Sector Skills Alliance programme and coordinated by the DAISSy Research Group of HOU. The consortium comprises a total of 11 partners from 4 countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Belgium). The purpose of the Mu.SA project is to fill the gap between formal education and the labor market that has arisen due to the ever-increasing adoption of Information and Communication Technologies into the museums and the subsequent emergence of new specialties. With the aim of enhancing the digital skills of museum and cultural professionals, targeted training actions, including a MOOC, four hybrid training seminars and internships, were designed and implemented within the project. The certification is based on the European Skills Frameworks DigComp and European eCompetences Framework (e-CF). The project is a unique case of combining different competence frameworks and is already considered as good practice.
Dr. Achilles Kameas, Professor of HOU, Director of DAISSy research group and Scientific Coordinator of Mu.SA project opened the Infoday. Brief welcome speeches were given by Mrs. Stavroula Sdrolia, Head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Larissa and Director of the Diachroniko Museum of Larissa, Mr. Panos Sapkas, Deputy Mayor of Culture and Sciences of the Municipality of Larissa and the Director of Secondary Education of Larissa, Mr. Ioannis Kapsalis.
The first part of the Infoday included the presentation by HOU Professor Mr. Achilles Kameas of the Mu.SA project and other European projects in which the DAISSy research group participates as coordinator or partner. A description of the first research results of the project was given by Mrs. Panagiota Polymeropoulou, Archaeologist – Museologist MSc. and Researcher at DAISSy. Mrs. Polymeropoulou presented in detail the four professional profiles produced in the project and the training program that was developed, which includes an initial Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on the basic digital skills that museum professionals need to acquire, specialized training programs and internships.
Subsequently, Mr. Demetrios Karakitsios, Computer and Telecommunications Engineer, MSc., from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Larissa, spoke about the digital Diachroniko Museum of Larissa, detailing the museum’s effort to follow the new technological trends, to improve its digital presence and to offer modern digital services to its visitors, describing the original approach, what has been done so far and what are the plans for the future.
The first part was closed by Mrs. Ioanna Deligianni, Historian of European Culture – Specialist of Cultural Management MSc., from the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa – GI Katsigras Museum, who referred to the continuous effort of the Municipal Library as a cultural institution to be in harmony with the new digital reality, such as the transfer of museum spaces to a virtual environment using Virtual Reality and the digitization of a part of the museum collections.
The second part of the Infoday titled “Digital Cultural Heritage Management” included talks by representatives of cultural institutions of the municipality of Larissa and the other municipalities of the Region of Thessaly.
Mr. Rizos Haliambalias, President of the Association “Hippocrates in Larissa” presented the main objectives of the Association’s activities, such as the promotion of Hippocrates’ work and the raising of awareness about the relationship between the Father of Medicine and Larissa, as well about the Monument of Hippocrates located in the city. He also presented actions implemented by the Association in cooperation with schools, the Diachroniko Museum of Larissa and other institutions.
Mrs. Georgia Tsiana, Head of the Public Central Library of Larissa “Konstantinos Koumas”, spoke about the digital services of the Library, which is being modernized, upgrades its infrastructure, and utilizes digital applications through continuous staff training. The main concern is to make the Public Central Library of Larissa more accessible through various activities and digital applications, so that more and more citizens come closer to the book.
Consequently, Mrs. Konstantina Kontsa, Archaeologist, from the Museum of Wheat and Flour of Larissa, presented the newly established museum, which is also the first industrial museum of the city. She also attempted a brief presentation of a first assessment of the interaction of visitors with the digital and interactive exhibits of the museum’s permanent exhibition.
Ms. Ioulia Pentazou, Ph.D. of the Department of Architecture of the University of Thessaly and researcher of the DEMUCIV project, from the Museum of the City of Volos, presented examples of contemporary Western museums where digital exhibits coexist, complement or replace natural exhibits in different ways and to varying degrees. In her presentation she explained how the “trace” of the past is complemented, conversed, overlapped and contrasted with a “construction” of the present in museums of the digital era.
Mr. Konstantinos Vouzaxakis, Archaeologist and Head of the Department of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and Museums from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Karditsa, made a brief presentation of the digital media and applications used by the Ephorate for the promotion of the cultural heritage of the area, the management of administrative data, the services offered to the citizens, the digitization and recording of the archaeological finds and the cultural reserve as well as the management and protection of the archaelogical spaces.
Mrs. Evangelia Defi, Archaeologist and Head of the Department of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Antiquities and Museums from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Trikala, presented the educational programs of the Ephorate with the use of digital technology, giving as an example the educational program in the archaeological site of Ancient Trikke. In the context of the participation of the Ephorate of Trikala in the action of the European Cultural Heritage Days held by the Ministry of Culture, with thematic title for 2017/18: “POL(e)IS” (that is, City-Cities), presented an interactive tour of school student groups, which combined the acquaintance with the diachronic monuments of the city through the use of technology.
The second part of the Infoday was completed with the speech of Mr. Vassilis Karachristos, Archaeologist of the Volos Ephorate of Antiquities, who presented the Ephorate’s website and its contents, emphasizing on archaeological sites, monuments, museums, educational programs and publications and the importance of the presence of the Ephorate in the digital world.
The event was attended by museum professionals, students and graduates of cultural studies programs, scientists, researchers, teachers as well as workers from the Ephorates of Antiquities of Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and Magnesia. Perhaps for the first time, representatives from all four Ephorates participated simultaneously at an event about new technologies in museums and the development of the relevant skills by their employees. Through their interventions, the representatives of the Ephorates and the other speakers informed the audience about the important work carried out by the cultural and educational institutions and services of the Region of Thessaly and indicated the future development directions and the emerging needs of the employees.
In conclusion, the Infoday has been a major success, attracting more than 80 participants, and has also gained considerable visibility in local media. The participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas and practices on the professional and organizational development of cultural organizations and their link with education, to discuss the benefits of relevant actions and the obstacles they face, and to create synergies to address of them. The Infoday concluded with a short tour of the exhibits of the Diachroniko Museum of Larissa, one of the most modern museums in the country.