For decades, the rapid technological development and the democratisation of knowledge sources have challenged the role of museums as public spaces of gathering and knowledge dissemination. The pervasiveness of technology influences the public and the way in which it now acquires knowledge. Undoubtedly, cultural institutions must respond and mirror the changes of today’s realities with infrastructures that allow a harmonious blend between onsite and online. The museum sector has been seeking ways to become more resilient and adapt to the new constellation. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, matters around museum digitalisation that had been discussed and debated at length gained a new sense of urgency. The need to explore possible reconfigurations of cultural spaces and their offers and find new ways of content distribution and new revenue and organisation models has taken centre stage.

DOORS – Digital Incubator for Museums comes to support museums at a moment in which attitudes towards the digitalisation of the sector are changing. The accelerated pace of technological and digital developments and the pressure coming from the competition with on-demand content creates not only haunting insecurity but also a strong desire for change in the sector. Regarded with less scepticism, the digital transformation of museums is now seen as a necessary, urgent, even exciting endeavour. It’s time to develop strategies that incorporate the digital into the DNA of institutions to foster pro-active, rather than reactive digital transformations.

Despite the urgency, digital strategies for the future can be neither makeshift nor standard. We must take the time to engage critically with technology and address concerns around it, move beyond a perception of digital technologies as cutting-edge appendixes and instead, understand them as part of a broader context in which they must integrate harmoniously. Only then will museums reach the digital maturity levels that can sustain the integration of technology into existing practices, thus becoming adaptable, diverse, and inclusive spaces.

To redesign cultural spaces and services and their relationship with museum audiences means to decode existing dynamics within them. In response, DOORS wants to support museums in developing future-proof strategies that recode these dynamics both to seamlessly integrate technology and to enrich the online and onsite cultural offer.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101036071.