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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday July 6, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Susan Hazan

Susan Hazan

CEO , Digital Heritage Israel

Culture from home – Connecting through webinars during the lockdown

From March to June 2020, Europeana Communicators held a series of webinars on the theme ‘Culture from home’, in which specialists from museums, libraries, archives and educational settings shared their solutions for reaching audiences while their doors were closed.  Here, co-chair and webinar moderator Susan Hazan reflects on the series.

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Ajuntament de Girona

Our private spaces made public

The lockdown experienced by so many around the world brought with it many challenges and opportunities.  We were all at home. Some of us were completely alone, missing friends, colleagues and families, while others were trapped in their family bubble and found themselves home schooling, while juggling the demands of a full-time family and full-time work commitments. 

The private space of the home became instantly visible to colleagues through the screen, with live interactions of cuddling the cat, distracting the kids, and cameo performances from unsuspecting house-mates, as well as the inevitable audio track of home lives when someone forgets to mute their mic.

Building new bridges

The Steering Group of Europeana Communicators - one of the six specialist communities of the Europeana Network Association - felt that we had a role to play in a time that no-one had an opportunity to prepare for, and no one had the time to evaluate. We organised a series of four webinars focussing on the theme ‘Culture from home’ and through them built new kinds of bridges across the community. 

There was something very democratising about bringing together professionals who normally worked in a museum, library, archive or school and were kind enough to open up their homes and to share solutions for staying connected with their audiences.  Everyone had amazing experiences to share and the conversation often felt almost electric.  

When we asked the Steering Group for their highlights of the series, our Chair Peter Soemers said, 'The presenting institutions and their staff showed a very strong will to serve the needs of people, immediately, and as broadly as possible. Hear Louisa Torres repeating six times 'to be useful' and Andrew Payne talking about 'Giving it a go, taking a risk.'

Co-chair Killian Downing said, 'One of my favourite moments was playing with and sharing the Gallica BnF cat filters highlighted by Marion Ansel and Louisa Torres to friends on Instagram.' 

And Marianna Marcucci described the series as, 'An incredible journey through museums, archives and libraries. People from every part of Europe together sharing their experiences to empower and inspire each other. Awesome!'

Welcoming a global audience

We recorded this series and you are invited to watch and share the four webinars. 

But perhaps the most compelling moments occurred once we announced that we were turning off the recording and inviting everyone to join in.  The Tana Libera Tutti (Free for all) part of the webinar became the moment when the audience became visible and actively joined in the conversation. Prior to that moment, the conversation took place in the chat where we were delighted to welcome participants from all over the world. Reading through our surveys at the end of the series we realised how important these discussions had been for participants.

I would like to share with you some of their comments…

‘Thank you very much for organising these webinars. They are a great way to keep in touch with the sector and to continue to shape thinking around digital engagement, while many of us still aren't allowed to return to our roles.’

‘Thank you all for your efforts in organisation of the webinar and for the possibility to meet such interesting people.’

‘Thank you for bringing us together.’

Sentiments echoed in the highlights experienced by our Steering Group. Cristina Roiu said that 'I liked most of all the feeling that ‘together we are stronger' and we are able to better overcome the obstacles and challenges we all face.'

And our community manager Beth Daley, said, 'For some participants, this was the first time they'd had the opportunity to talk to colleagues from across Europe. That's something really quite special.'

Thank you

A big thank you to all the speakers in this series and to all the Europeana team who made it happen. If you'd like to find out more about how we organised these webinars, please join us and the Europeana Events team tomorrow - 7 July - for 'Running webinars - what we've learnt so far'.

And if you'd like to join our community, please do so via our Europeana Communicators page.