The challenges of the future for Sweden’s museums

Mats Persson, Generalsekreterare Sveriges Museer

Did you know that the Swedish museum industry generates about 28 million visits each year? That is 10 million more than the number of cinema visits. Eurobarometern shows that 80 per cent of Swedes visited a museum or an art gallery over the last year, compared to the European average of 50 per cent. It indicates that culture is important to the majority of the population in our country.

A growing number of people visit museums to have experiences that in many ways shape their perspectives on our history, our present as well as our future. In order to develop, says Mats Persson, Secretary General at Swedish Museums Association, the museum industry faces important challenges.

Reflecting a relevant picture of the world

Museums are important building blocks of our democracy. When fake news and deficient use of credible sources threatens to shape our opinions, the museums’ role as institutions of knowledge and places for learning is an important one. Monitoring the world around us becomes increasingly important for the museums. It involves reflecting the global world we live in and making the collections relevant to more groups in society. It is a challenge that involves international and national exchanges and movements of objects within Sweden and from other parts of the world. The choice of logistics partner is important for the museums. This is enabled by a good dialogue between the museums and logistics actors.

Being digitally innovative

Digitalisation brings fantastic opportunities to make culture accessible, independent of time and space. It requires innovation and being able to think outside the museum walls. For example, we are seeing collaborations with the gaming industry that can lead to new ways of bringing the knowledge of the museums to a wider audience. Games, like so many other things, are fundamentally about telling a story and museums are inexhaustible sources of stories. The keyword is co-creation, from just being an observer you are given a part in a story.

Becoming a museum at the forefront

All development requires resources. For the museums that receive the majority of their income from public funding there is still a great need for independent income to meet the challenges of the future. In that context, collaborations with the tourism industry is an important factor. We know that museums are a very strong reason to visit a destination and that does not only apply to larger cities. Of the 28 million annual museum visits, approximately 19 million are outside of Stockholm. All visits generate great resources and there are opportunities here to review new business models that provide better returns.

About the museums’ spring meeting
The spring meeting, arranged by the Swedish Museums Association along with local hosts have over the last few years attracted about 500 participants and it is the Swedish museum sector’s most important event for current industry issues.