The clear and precise articulation and communication of the values, mission and vision that institutions want to adopt are essential for the operation of a service-oriented museum that meets the needs of the 21st century. Accordingly, one of the focus areas of the MúzeumokMa 2020 research was to explore strategic thinking and possible directions for development, as well as the factors that could support progress. The surveys were conducted among senior and middle managers of museums.
In Hungary, the institutional strategy is one of the museums’ most important documents required by law, which sets out the mission, long-term goals and key areas of museums, as well as the human, material and budgetary resources needed to achieve them. Based on the responses of managers, three quarters of the institutions have a strategic plan approved by the maintaining authority, while the remaining museums are either in the process of preparing it or do not have such core document at all. There are typically three ways in which the strategy is prepared in the institutions: the director prepares the document alone (in which case it is based on their own management proposal), the director involves the deputy heads as well or takes the ideas of the whole staff into account through the heads of department. The main priorities set out in museum strategies include the delivery of core museum functions (collection, safekeeping, scientific processing and publication), infrastructural development and the implementation of sub-strategies (digitisation, conservation, museum education). Based on the responses of middle managers, the staff are aware of the objectives set out in the strategy in only one in three institutions. Surprisingly, staff are not necessarily aware of the content of the core document even in institutions where they were involved in its preparation. The successful practical implementation of the institutional strategy would probably be easier if staff were familiar with the document and could agree with its approach and objectives.
The online questionnaire and in-depth interviews also explored the ideas of senior and middle managers in museums with regard to directions of development. According to the respondents, museums will make significant progress in the coming years in three areas: community operations, development of digital technology, and the processing and presentation of cultural heritage. The responses of the experts are in line with the views of the national policymakers, as the Public Collections Digitisation Strategy and the opportunities for community and tourism development will help museums realise their plans for the future. When asked about factors hindering progress, respondents mentioned problems related to funding and wages, the downward trend in grant opportunities, and limitations for growth in terms of human resources.
Managers picture their institutions in ten years’ time as dynamic, open, collaborative, stable, attractive, authentic and creative cultural institutions. It is worth noting that one of the core tasks of museums, namely research, was not among the most frequently mentioned items. However, the subsequent focus group discussions revealed that this does not necessarily imply the relegation of scientific work, but rather, it is indicative of a multi-directional positioning and a reassessment of the role of research. The approach in Hungarian museums some thirty or forty years ago was defined by the primary importance of scientific research by museologists. In the last twenty years, however, the importance of visitor experiences based on modern knowledge transfer has become more prominent, partly as a result of EU funding for the development of other museum areas, while the importance of research has been somewhat demoted. However, managers still think that it is important to find a balance between the different professional areas in museums, as the implementation of exhibitions based on professional research and the related museum educational programmes and events are essential for maintaining the authenticity of the institution.
Interviewees stressed the importance of stable funding, appropriate numbers of staff with adequate skills and modern infrastructure in enabling museums to meet the needs of modern visitors in the future. They believe that cooperation with public education institutions, other cultural players and NGOs can help create the community-based museums of the future. Most institutions are aware of the models and good practices of museums at home and abroad, and they also make efforts to try to put such experiences into practice. They mostly adopt models from other institutions in the areas of communication, digitisation, museum education, volunteering, training of front-line staff and exhibition design.
The interviewees expressed the following expectations of the Ministry of Culture: project-based funding, long-term development and investment programmes, as well as organisational development and financial support for various museum exhibitions and programmes which would contribute significantly to the stable operation of museums. They also consider it important to align legal regulations for museums with the expectations associated with the operation of museums in the 21st century. They believe that the ministry could contribute to the development of museums through trainings, workshops and conferences that address the current challenges of the museum sector, as well as through professional advocacy, legal assistance, active communication and continuous consultation.
The coordination of the professional community’s vision for the future with that of the maintaining authority and the cultural sector could have a positive effect on the development of the museum sector in the long run, as well as on the creation and survival of visitor-friendly and service-oriented modern institutions that are still based on scientific foundations.
Bereczki, Ibolya & Makranczi, Zsolt : Stratégiai látásmód a múzeumokban (Strategic vision in museums)
[date accessed: 23/09/2022]
 Based on Section 42 (4b) of Act CXL of 1997 on the protection of cultural goods, museum institutions, public library services, and the cultural education of the public
[date accessed: 16/09/2022]