Investigation into sustainable solutions for improving small and medium sized museums in China




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Museums are important cultural institutions that provide the public with cultural and historical knowledge and play an essential role in preserving and passing on cultural heritage. Museum sustainability contributes to developing nature, society and people, and museum operations. From a macro perspective, sustainability could provide museums with clear development and planning objectives. From a micro perspective, sustainability can provide museums with detailed requirements and specifications regarding the project, its implementation and final presentation. Small and medium-sized museums often have more specific, unique cultural content and presentation characteristics than larger-sized museums. However, the development of small and medium-sized museums is limited in many ways. Most small and medium-sized museums aim to optimise their construction and content with larger-sized museums. However, the lack of social resources, funding and staff often makes it difficult for them to develop better. The rush to benchmark themselves against large museums has also led to homogenisation and pressure on small and medium-sized museums in all aspects, which is often detrimental to their development. Therefore, this study focuses on the characteristics of small and medium-sized museums and develops four sustainability models based on the content of sustainable development to address the dilemmas and challenges faced by small and medium-sized museums in China from four sustainability perspectives: cultural, environmental, social and economic. The models aim to provide museum leaders, practitioners, businesses and curators with a complex strategic model of museum management, exhibition design and experience design in a multidisciplinary context to address the challenges faced in the process of social and environmental change. This study provides a detailed examination and analytical comparison of small and medium-sized museums in China and the UK through an observational approach, and structured interviews were conducted to determine the initial exploration of the model. The framework of the model was refined through in-depth interviews using the Delphi method, using content and functional principles. An evaluation of the model was conducted using focus groups to test the validity and feasibility of the final model. The model incorporates museum management, display design, user experience and service design. It provides an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective that provides direction and advice to users of the model to support the development of small and medium-sized museums. The model also contains elements of synergy between museums and different institutions and organisations, guiding the possibilities for small and medium-sized museums to connect and collaborate with the outside world. It includes higher education institutions, social and educational institutions, universities for the elderly, associations for the disabled, and local businesses. Due to the specific nature of small and medium-sized museums, the model examines and explores forms of association to reduce economic and personnel pressure on museums. The model aims to assist small and medium-sized museums in planning and upgrading by providing a directional development model.





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