عنوان مقاله [English]
Popular belief holds that the sole purpose of all museums is to preserve humanity’s material as well as spiritual heritage and display historical-artistic artifacts. However, some museums today have moved toward fulfilling a new goal, namely improving intercultural competence in the world. To do so, they have implemented a series of practices, as part of their year-round programs, to non-confrontationally guide their visitors toward a peaceful and respectful understanding of other cultures, providing them with an experience through which they can learn how to appreciate those cultures as well as their own. How museum visitors perceive things in such dynamic, multicultural environments is essential, and it inspired this descriptive and analytical research to review the quality and content of intercultural sensitivity museum programs. The study aimed to answer, “How is intercultural perception facilitated by such programs?” and found that: a) because the museums provide information on different cultures through dialogue and impartially, they reduce perceived cultural differences and cultivate curiosity, interest, and visual attraction for the discussed cultures; and b) since their goal is to inform, this research can prove useful to them as it offers strategies such as policymaking, sense-making, and enabling personal discovery of cultural similarities, as well as practices like holding cultural events, training intercultural mediators, providing networked narratives in the museum environment, and creating decors and installations that visually compare cultures. English education researcher Michael Byram and American sociologist Milton Bennett propose skills and steps, respectively that are required for individuals to embrace other cultures. By applying the measures suggested by this study, museums could help visitors acquire those skills and take those steps to visually explore other cultures and achieve an intercultural perception.
In the contemporary world, factors such as the speed of development of technology, tendency toward immigration, and the biological diversities that have been emerged, has caused the increasingly clash and diversity of cultures, and formed multicultural societies and various cultural outcomes. Administrators perceive fading the cultures, disappearing cultural borders, vanishing subcultures, decreasing cross-cultural exchanges and susceptibilities, and dominance of some cultures over the other cultures in the light of predominance of cultures and lack of perception and respect for another culture, as factors of segregation of human relations on a global scale.
Nowadays, in order to counteract cultural challenges in multicultural societies, and global problems in the field of intercultural communications, introducing other cultures to people, with the goal of developing their intercultural competence and reducing cultural tensions is regarded as the doctrines of the third millennium from the perspective of UNESCO. Increasing intercultural competence in order to understand, respect, and use the experiences of other cultures, while protecting the culture of insiders is a necessary duty being in charge of cultural institutions such as museums, alongside their previous vocation i.e. protection of financial treasures of culture, history, and masterpieces.
Based on the purpose of the current research, among several museums engaging in the activity, museums having purposeful activity with intercultural approach were looked for regardless of their subjective function, and the timespan of the activity. And first it was determined that the selected European museums in the current research, were present in intercultural projects of European Union in a complementary way and in many cases, especially “Mela (URL15)”, and therefore all of these places were examined in the framework of the indicated project, particularly samples having a series of proceedings, and changes in intercultural context, recently. Alongside these museums, other museums around the world, having intercultural approach, and two of the museums in Iran having selected intercultural experiences or methods of intercultural expressions for themselves, were put in this complex as the selected samples of the country. The fifteen selected museums, i.e. Britain museum (England) (URL5), Metropolitan museum (America) (URL16), Louver museum (France) (URL8), Aga Khan museum (Canada) (URL2), Malek museum (Iran) (URL14), Asian Civilization museum (Singapore) (URL21), Immigration museum (Australia) (URL19), Islamic Art (Melbourne, Australia) (URL11), Louvre museum (United Arabic Emirates) (URL13), Doha museum (Qatar) (URL17), Berlin museum (Germany) (URL20), National Museum of the Islamic Revolution & Holy Defense (Iran), Islamic Art museum (Malaysia) (URL8), The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) (America) (URL18), and the Mela project of the European Union, proceeded with reconsideration of their plans, and acceptance of novel and innovative patterns based on intercultural approaches for the statistical population in their set of experiences, and are changing their attitudes and policies toward this field.
The current research examined a set of executed experiences in a set of museums considering this approach in their schedule in different levels purposefully, with the goal of investigating a set of experiences of various museums in forming a society with a higher intercultural competence and improving people’s cultural competence. This study tried to indicate the role of strategies and their approaches in improving intercultural competence by compiling and organizing the findings, and assessing them based on two theories belonging to Bennet and Byram. In Byram’s point of view, one should plan to interpret and explain the nature of cultures and relating them with their own culture and understand cultural integration of the globe, by obtaining the components like “attitude”, “knowledge”, “skills of interpreting/relating”, “skills of discovery and interaction”, and “critical cultural awareness”. Byram introduced them in his pattern, as practical and functional components that we assume are effective in developing intercultural competence and changing the perception of the audiences of museums. Moreover, according to Bennet’s theory, one should pass the stages of cultural interactions, the first of which is “denial”, the second one being “defense”, the third one being “minimization”, then “acceptance” and finally “integration” with the differences.
Compiling the plans as the data of museums and visual documents was done by referring to valid library-electronic resources and observing virtual databases of the selected samples. Then the cases were analyzed by qualitative analysis method, so that their plan and experiences would be interpreted in an orderly and objective way, and the capability of the plan to expand intercultural competence and its scale would be examined based on the recommended pattern of Bennet and Byram. Because museums do not follow any type of intercultural macrostructure, only their plans and experiences in this field are currently available.
Considering the represented strategies and approaches, we can see that contemporary museums mostly intend to realize intercultural sensitivity in their atmosphere. In addition, the future approach of the museums mostly relies on the fact that not only will not they plan a competitive display of artistic-historical masterpieces, but also note they the common heritage of humankind as their goal.
As it can be seen, the influence of the intercultural attitude plays an important role in forming policies of new macro-museums. And museums having civilized approach, by trying to localize their civilization in global structure, and previous museums with the goal of improving their plans in this field, which are leading to neglect the preferable thought or exposition of superiority, level the cultures, and set policies for museums based on communications among cultures and implementation of them in all of the activities of the museum, have a very important role in reducing the distinction and accepting other cultures.
Sense-making which causes sympathy with other cultures, experiencing repeated familiar feelings in a foreign environment which causes people to have a sense of belonging to their culture, and the foreign audiences’ experiences which goes beyond a cultural surface to a type of experience, can occur through engaging various senses. Moreover, they provide the possibility for the audiences of being encouraged to discover intercultural communications, and compare and explain among cultures. Among other effective strategies for reducing the distinction of the audiences between another cultures in museums, is to give an invitation to their cooperation for “self-discovery”. Audiences’ cooperation in discovering “their own cultural phenomena and other cultures”, locating in the analysis of the common heritage, and discovering the similarities and differences, helps them very much to have an intercultural sensitivity.
The results of the research represent that the indicated strategies and approaches like the progression of self-discovery, sense-making, and approaches like implementation of intercultural events, creation of a net intercultural narration and intercultural layout of objects, minimization among cultures, stimulation of sense of curiosity, caused the audiences’ visual affection and joy, by macro policy making of museum. In addition, the audiences achieve intercultural perception, by obtaining the skill in Byram’s point of view, and transitioning the stages of acceptance of cultures in Benet’s perspective. As a result, it can be said that the experiences of various museums, have a long way to go to lead the audiences to the high levels of cultural competence, and by using the results of the current research, the future researchers would be able to schedule plans to improve the experiences of museums.