Imagine once a week closing your office door for half a day, forgetting about emails and calls. Luxury, you say? Rather a necessity. Assessing the purpose of your organisation anew, rethinking the needs of visitors and becoming more open to the public with better communication inside your team – these are the challenges for the employees of two museums of Kaunas this autumn.
Kaunas City Museum and the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, more than 20 people overall, take part in the practical training of the Kaunas 2022 programme and also in the workshop “Atvirumo menas” [“The art of openness”] initiated by the association Kūrybinės jungtys. All these people working in the cultural field are the first students of the Tempo Academy of Culture’s faculty of professionals.
Daina Kamarauskienė, Deputy Director of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, notes that her team is always looking for new, relevant training or similar activities. “The project by the Kūrybinės jungtys association that was implemented in Lithuanian schools throughout the year intrigued us; we decided to enter the contest and now we’re happy to say that we’re students again,” the art historian smiles. She was mostly impressed by the methods of learning based on real practical work: “You don’t have to overthink everything while reaching for conclusions – the information is extracted from us in different ways, from different angles, in a playful fashion.”
“This training provided us with something we didn’t have time for – a chance to come together and talk about subjects we enjoy, discuss the purpose of museums, share what we would do differently,” D. Kamarauskienė says. According to her, nine employees from different departments of the Čiurlionis museum each had two aims: to be more open to the public and to make the communication within the museum much better. That’s why they were selected – those are the nine people who work with education and public relations.
Gabrielius Sužiedėlis, who became the director of the Kaunas City Museum six months ago, has a similar take on the matter: “One of the first goals me and my colleagues set was to shape a unified team which would be prepared for any challenges. We started the cycle of strategic managerial training in summer, so Kaunas 2022 was spot-on to bring in their creative initiative – it’s truly relevant for any modern museum or an analogous institution.”
Moderator Kristina Jakubauskaitė-Veršelienė – who leads the training sessions – also said this project was right on time when asked about the first impressions on the team of Kaunas City Museum: “They were already prepared to work, motivated, understanding the necessity for changes, open to fresh ideas and improvisation – this was one of the reasons why this particular museum was chosen.”
The museum’s employees have already pointed out their target audiences during earlier training – the youth and families with children, so the sessions of “Atvirumo menas” were spent analysing what these audiences like, which content they find most relevant and how can the museum network help students who move to live in the city. “The first session took place in the city streets – the employees were asking passers-by various questions about their knowledge on the institution, and the answers suggested that people of Kaunas don’t see the Kaunas City Museum as a wide network,” K. Jakubauskaitė-Veršelienė explains.
Students of the Tempo Academy of Culture’s faculty of professionals will continue their practices after the training. “We hope to create a precedent and then reflect on it – what does work, what needs to be modified and so forth”, the moderator says. She stresses that self-monitoring is crucial not only for cultural institutions but for any modern company or organisation: “The initial plan is not necessarily the final one – it’s much more beneficial to constantly be in the state of monitoring, changing and adjusting.”
“Inspired by the learning experiences, we’ll look for effective methods to use the obtained knowledge in many practical ways and share those methods with the rest of the staff at the museum. I believe one can call this a continuation of the training, which we then will – after consulting the specialists of “Atvirumo menas” – implement on our own, independently,” G. Sužiedėlis predicts further benefits of the training.
The Tempo Academy of Culture is one of the essential parts of the programme “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture”, securing the effective implementation of the ideas right up until the year 2022. The academy will annually organise training sessions for strengthening the competences, which will become a platform to encourage collaboration between all participants of Kaunas 2022.