The 2019 Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded to the Museum of Communication (Bern, Switzerland). The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at a meeting in Paris today.
According to committee representative for the Museum Prize, Nino Goguadze (Georgia, EC), the Museum of Communication “is clearly a very interactive, multi-sensory, participatory, accessible, playful, open and democratic museum. It is a lab for social interaction, relationships and processes. It addresses, in a creative and open way, emerging issues related to present-day communication: the value of truth; the impact of lying; privacy; hacking secrets; understanding and misunderstanding; communication in a culturally diverse society; and the issue of ‘memory’ from millennia-old clay tablets to contemporary ephemeral ‘clouds’”.
A person-centred museum, it invites and explores opportunities for crowdsourcing content production. To this end, the museum has developed a very innovative scheme of “communicators” who are trained to facilitate interaction with visitors, engage with them in conversations and the exploration of ideas. The results of this interaction are then gathered in various formats (written, audio, video), researched by staff and used for future activities or installations.
According to Ms Goguadze, the museum is “clearly outstanding in the way it engages visitors to critically reflect on our contemporary world with various implications brought by new technologies and new forms of communication”.
The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage, the promotion of respect for human rights and democracy, bridging cultures, overcoming social and political borders, broadening visitors' knowledge and understanding of contemporary societal issues and exploring ideas of democratic citizenship.
The winning museum is presented with a bronze statuette by Joan Miró, which the museum will keep for a year, together with a diploma.
The prize is decided on the basis of three proposals presented by a jury of the European Museum Forum, and forms part of the European Museum of the Year Awards.
Recent winners of the prize include the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2018), the Caribbean Centre of Expressions and Memory of the Slave Trade and Slavery in Guadeloupe, France (2017), and the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland (2016).