What do we mean by openness and accessibility? Today’s museums are not only places to preserve the material artifacts of culture and history. Their mission is the creation of a truly open institution, a new realm of social intercourse, a stimulator of conversation and thought. As an interactive platform, the museum and public are jointly devising new ways to enrich, interpret and analyze museum collections. Through their exhibits and shows, regional museums are coming to greater self-awareness and thus, in fact, nurturing greater love for their regions. The accessibility of the contemporary museum is expressed in its hours and overall scheduling, the internet availability of exhibits, new ways of using its collections and a readiness for real dialogue.
Who do museums serve? They serve the ordinary visitor who comes without advanced knowledge. They also serve professionals, who not only understand the fine points of preservation, restoration and exhibitions but today are well aware of the demands put on museums by the contemporary visitor. Museums now must have on staff experts in marketing and polling, for example, in addition to traditional specialists. And the personal growth and professional development is of more importance than ever. For every staff member – from curator and exhibit designer to guards, cloakroom workers and gallery attendants – has a role in creating the image of the museum and realizing its potential. Life is always changing, and exchanges with colleagues during trips and conferences are important for museum professionals in keeping up with new technologies and methods.
Education/enlightenment – these twins represent no small part of museum work. Through excursions, lectures and seminars, museums offer a wide range of informal education. In addition, museums have other ways of bringing the public to sense the atmosphere of one or another historical epoch. But, even with their incomparably rich collections, museums do not need to answer every question, need not aspire to be another Wikipedia. Their mission lies in stimulating the visitor to ask questions and to find answers – to write their own Wikipedias.