Museum educators call for legal and regulatory recognition of the profession

A working group composed of museum educators has drafted a document calling for legal and regulatory recognition of the profession.

The museum educ ators of the working group Profession : museum educator, which brings together professionals from all over Italy, has drafted a document with the aim of calling for the legal recognition of their profession. The lack of legal and regulatory recognition of the profession, in fact, according to the workers has always favored widespread forms of precariousness and exploitation of free labor.

The document, entitled For the Legal Recognition of Museum Educators, aims to historically frame this profession (the history of museum education goes back some seventy years, when the topic of museum education was debated, in 1955, at an important conference in Perugia, where museum education was framed for the first time within the framework of museology), and to clarify and explain why its legal recognition is strongly demanded. The document also lists the responsibilities, areas and tasks of the museum educator, the entry requirements for practicing the profession, and how to be appointed.

The working group explains that the role of the museum educator is essential within cultural venues, dealing with informal education, learning processes of different audiences. Through the work of the educator, cultural heritage enters into a living and active relationship with the public, be it a schoolchildren, a family or a group of adults. The educator thus serves a strategic function in the promotion and enhancement of cultural heritage, with well-defined responsibilities and tasks.

Legal and regulatory recognition of the profession, in addition to guaranteeing its continuity at the project level in museum programming, which is fundamental to the success of activities, could better incorporate into the museum system a role that is as central as it is undervalued, helping to disincentivize cases of precarious and free labor and ensuring high standards of competence. And to represent and protect the figure of the museum educator in order to obtain decent working conditions, the group is working to create a professional association.

The document outlines the professional profile of the museum educator (for whom, the working group points out, one could also speak more broadly of “cultural heritage educator,” since his or her activities take place in all places of culture), recalling his or her responsibilities, areas and tasks: in particular, the museum educator contributes with his or her skills to the enhancement of cultural institutes and places by carrying out planned educational interventions, adapting them to the characteristics and needs of different types of audiences. Identifies the modes of communication and mediation, using appropriate and functional tools for the different recipients of the educational action. Participates in research groups and actively collaborates with other professionals involved in the enhancement action (curator, conservator, restorer, communication and exhibition manager). What’s more, he or she collaborates in defining the museum’s identity and mission, institutional project and general programming, enhancing the educational component of cultural heritage; designs and conducts educational paths and prepares workshops, adapting them to the characteristics and needs of different types of audiences; develops educational actions by preparing activities that promote the institution as a propelling center of lifelong and recurring education, forging relations with the territory and citizenship and dialogue with other cultures; realizes specific texts and materials for educational activities and, if necessary, for the subsequent reworking of the contents learned during the visit; carries out interventions aimed at thephysical and sensory accessibility and social inclusion of publics with different needs, also in co-planning with external specialists (pedagogists, social educators, cultural mediators,medical specialists,teachers, etc.); collaborates in the definition of modalities and the preparation of tools for the documentation, assessment of satisfaction, verification and evaluation of the educational activities carried out; points out needs and problems in function of proper fruition; takes care of relations with the world of school, companies and others who use services and educational and/or training activities; prepares spaces and instrumentation pertaining to the educational activity to be carried out, within the scope of its competence.

The document also establishes the requirements for access to the position, given that the museum educator profession, it says “is to be considered of high intellectual content and considerable complexity.” Therefore, at least a bachelor’s degree or recognized and equivalent degrees in disciplines relevant to the place of culture of reference are considered necessary; additional training given by master’s degrees, training courses, seminars, related to pedagogy, museum didactics, communication of cultural heritage and inescapable and proven experience in the field; and knowledge of at least one foreign language at the B2 level.

“It is essential,” the document states, “that each cultural institution has in-house a specific staff for museum education, as internalized and stable as possible so that the skills of its members, different but complementary, go to ensure a diversified proposal and a higher quality of services offered. In this sense, it is therefore desirable for the institution itself to be actively and constantly involved in the training of its educators. It is equally important that the professional in question, before starting his or her assignment, is adequately prepared on the peculiarities of the place of culture in which he or she will have to work, through specific training carried out by the competent staff.”

The profession of the museum educator, the document concludes, may be carried out in public and private institutions either through an employee contract or as a self-employed person. The freelancer will also be able to work at more than one place of culture, in associated or unrelated management. In all cases, the employment relationship must be formalized with a contract or letter of assignment specifying duties, responsibilities, and agreed upon and adequate remuneration, which takes into account the timing of the study, conception, design, and conduct of the activity. In the case of an employment contract, it will be necessary to apply the Federculture CCNL.

Museum educators call for legal and regulatory recognition of the profession
Museum educators call for legal and regulatory recognition of the profession

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