Wednesday 2 December 2020

Manal Ataya

Covid-19 ‘opened up museums for larger public’

SHARJAH, October 7, 2020

Despite its profound effect on all sectors including the cultural sphere, Covid-19 has allowed a democratisation of museums’ collections, said Manal Ataya, museums expert and Director of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA).

During her participation in the annual ‘Museum Ideas 2020’ conference held in London since 2012, Ataya spoke of how closures around the world prompted museums to open up collections for the larger public through virtual tours, thereby engage new audiences.

“Embracing digital strategies, which I believe is a positive step forward, has allowed more people to see collections that would otherwise seem exclusive because you would have to physically be present to see it,” she said.

Ataya also highlighted the change in museums’ roles in the future, in light of the isolation and uncertainty provoked by the health scare worldwide.

“For the first time in history, we are having to rethink the definition of museums, what it means and how to build consensus about it. We have to approach it with open minds and hearts, and to have the courage to disregard old ideas and paradigms, envision and embrace something exciting and new,” she noted.

In her recorded message during the one-day event, which was held free online for the first time, Ataya stressed the importance of providing accessibility to the knowledge, museums harbour within their walls.

“Pandemic restrictions have given us the opportunity to revise our digital strategy and develop our platforms to stay connected with our audiences,” said Ataya.

“Now we are able to share information with everyone around the world, and for us at SMA, having access to all kinds of information I believe is a human right, particularly when it comes to participating in culture, and having knowledge of culture,” she concluded.

Organised by Museum-iD under the theme “Explore the Ideas Shaping the Future of Museums”, the conference saw the participation of museum professionals from over 30 countries from across the globe. – TradeArabia News Service


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