High-Level conference on AI in museums: charting a new course for cultural heritage

At a special conference in Brussels on March 21, 2024, experts unveiled recommendations for embedding AI in museums, highlighting the importance of regulatory frameworks, financial investment, and establishing a European AI hub. This initiative aims to ensure museums play a central role in the AI narrative, fostering public engagement and education in the digital era.

A big meeting in Brussels on March 21st discussed how museums can use the latest technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), to improve the visitor experience. The event, called “Innovation and Integrity: Museums paving the way in an AI-driven society”, brought together government officials from cities, countries, and even the European Union to brainstorm ideas for museums in this age of AI.

The conference highlighted museums’ capacity as indispensable venues for public interaction with technology, underscoring their roles in learning, experiencing, and deepening knowledge about technological progress. At the heart of the discussions were three essential recommendations designed to ensure museums actively contribute to, rather than merely adapt to, AI integration:

  1. Formulation of a Political Vision and Regulatory Framework: The call to action urges policymakers to view museums as essential allies in fostering ethical AI practices, proposing a regulatory framework that includes museums in the broader dialogue on AI’s societal impacts.
  2. Financial Investment for AI Application: Stressing the importance of significant investments in infrastructure, equipment, and staff training, the recommendations advocate for financial backing to facilitate the effective incorporation of AI within the public cultural domain.
  3. Establishment of a European AI Competency Hub for Cultural Heritage: A centralized hub is suggested to aggregate expertise, best practices, and resources, promoting cooperation and innovation within the sector.

Organized by leading cultural institutions including NEMO (the Network of European Museum Organisations), FARO, ICOM Wallonie-Brussels, ICOM Flanders, and the House of European History, the conference emphasized the critical need for museums to proactively engage with AI. It spotlighted the unique position of museums to contribute meaningfully to the public conversation on AI, using their trusted status to dispel misinformation and enhance the collective understanding of AI technologies.

As the conference wrapped up, it was evident that by playing an active role in the dialogue and application of AI, museums have the opportunity not only to maintain their relevance but to lead the way in crafting a future where technology and cultural heritage mutually flourish, ensuring the digital transformation of the sector adheres to principles of human-centred design, privacy, and open-source practices.

The recommendations and the one-day conference were co-produced by NEMO, FARO, ICOM Wallonie-Brussels, ICOM Flanders and the House of European History.  Source: NEMO

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