Idoia Paucar Herrera

Activating Regional Museums Through Social Engagement

Sensing the System

This is a project about immigrant communities and regional museums seeking to collaboratively enhance the cultural heritage of small Swiss towns in light of the rising demographic diversity.

In light of the rapid growth and diversification of our society, many public cultural organizations are struggling to accommodate to the modern demands and fulfill the needs of a fast-growing society. As is the case of many Swiss small-sized regional museums which are losing relevance in society.
In Switzerland, 37% of the museum landscape is represented by these organizations. However, despite their large presence in the country, these museums barely receive local visitors. So, if residents are not benefiting from the museums› services, what is the role of these organizations within their communities?

The role of these organizations in society is important because they preserve the cultural essence of their communities but the way these organizations serve their communities must be reviewed.
From the outcome of interviews with a migrant community from Obwalden, many people pointed out at a feeling of «being out of place» or «not belonging» when visiting a regional museum.
It was found that this perception is due to the insufficient representation of the immigrant community at local museums. The effect of this problem sets them at a social disadvantage which stops them from their human right to access to the cultural life of their community and to integrate to their community.



To help these cultural organizations to better serve their communities, this project aimed to develop a Design management Intervention to increase the interest and engagement of immigrant residents, identified as culturally underrepresented minorities.

In order to unfold and understand the complexity of the proposed thesis problem, this project was developed from a human-centered approach. Therefore, it was essential to count on the collaboration of a group of residents from Obwalden. Similarly, this project received the support and input of employees from two regional museums, cantonal politicians from the cultural sector, and external experts from the public and private cultural sectors.



The final intervention is called Obwaldner KulturLab, which is a space for transcultural exchange. The KulturLab enables local residents to live out their cultural life by actively participating in a wide range of social artistic events.
With the support of the regional museums and the KulturLab core team, this initiative aims to make history and culture more accessible to the community.
In parallel, it fosters social cohesion and integration by bringing people together in an environment that promotes diversity in all aspects.

And what could you and your regional museum do to foster fair & accessible cultural practices in your community?

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