As museums across the county prepare to admit visitors for the first time 2021, new visitor experiences incorporating artificial intelligence, machine learning and immersive technologies are all being trialled as part of Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Reboot Cornwall initiative.

The scheme is designed to promote the most pioneering visitor offers being developed by the region’s museums and heritage venues, fostering broader adoption of such projects in the future.

“More than ever, we have come to understand and appreciate the vital role of new technology in keeping people connected, safe and working,” explains Julia Twomlow, creative director and CEO of PK Porthcurno – Museum of Global Communications.

“As a museum in a rural location, we believe we have an important part to play, using our history, expertise, buildings and resources to help revitalise and strengthen our community as we emerge from the pandemic. New technology will be a key part of this new way of working.”

Emmie Kell, CEO at Cornwall Museums Partnership, says the organisation is “really excited” work with sites such as PK Porthcurno via the Reboot Cornwall initiative, and to “get behind our museum and heritage sector as it gets back on its feet and showcase some of the fantastic experiences being offered to visitors in the coming months”.

Surveying strategy

It was in response to a survey conducted by the Partnership that 79% of the county’s museums and heritage attractions said they are now actively exploring how technology can help them to futureproof their offering.

“This study shows that Cornish museums have shown both great adaptability and resilience in the face of tremendous adversity,” notes Kell.

“Attitudes around heritage, new technology and the role of museums as important hubs in their local communities are evolving very rapidly in Cornwall and it’s exciting to see our museums leading the way for both innovation and greater inclusivity.”

Changing attitudes appear to have been influenced hugely by the experiences since March 2020.

89% acknowledged that the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the need to innovate, with a similar proportion (86%) citing logistical issues including space, capacity and social distancing as key concerns as phased reopening begins.

79% of museums surveyed said they envisage playing more of an active role within local communities post-pandemic, with 89% anticipating a high level of contribution to education and youth development.

Being part of a wider tourism and economic recovery was also deemed important (79%), along with tackling loneliness (67%) and making the sector more inclusive (60%).

 

Unsurprisingly the financial ramifications of Covid were also high on the list of stresses mentioned, with 78% of sites concerned by funding issues and economic uncertainty. Fears regarding permanent closure, reduced opening hours and job losses were also highlighted by around half of those surveyed.

Even with the ongoing toil of operating during a pandemic, 92% reported feeling positive about the future prospects of their own venues and the wider cultural sector in Cornwall.


More information about Reboot Cornwall can be found here.

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