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Initiative aims to boost gallery attendance

WHY is it that the galleries of the Tate museum in London are permanently full and important Slovak galleries are virtually empty?
"Gallery pedagogy has a weak tradition here. It's not built on live communication [with the visitor]," said Vladimír Malast from the Slovak National Gallery.
He explained that viewers are often expected to understand difficult, expert-like texts and follow the track of exhibitions installed in boring ways.

WHY is it that the galleries of the Tate museum in London are permanently full and important Slovak galleries are virtually empty?

"Gallery pedagogy has a weak tradition here. It's not built on live communication [with the visitor]," said Vladimír Malast from the Slovak National Gallery.

He explained that viewers are often expected to understand difficult, expert-like texts and follow the track of exhibitions installed in boring ways.

Making art and cultural institutions more easily accessible to a wider public is the aim of a pioneer project, Closer to Museum, run by the Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava and the Centre of Contemporary Art Foundation in Bratislava, with the help of the British Council in Bratislava.

"The educational programme should help to increase gallery attendance by bringing the exhibits closer to the public. Like abroad, where they do it through interactive programmes, using creative animations with sound and touch," said the programme's creator, Marcela Lukáčová, who has worked with the Ján Koniarek Gallery.

Twenty people from various museums and galleries in Slovakia have enrolled in the three-year Closer to Museum project.

A series of lectures and workshops run by overseas lecturers started in November. These are designed to give museum professionals in this country the necessary knowledge and inspiration to increase visitor numbers at their own galleries. Malast is one of the participants.

The first lecture and workshop was led by Sylvia Lahav, a British lecturer with experience at the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery, in London. Gerald Lidstone, from Goldsmiths College in London, directed the second lecture and workshop, which took place last week.

"Britain has experience in managing museums and galleries. It has things to offer," said Katarína Martinková, manager for culture projects at the British Council. According to her, the organization is interested in exporting the Slovak project to other countries in which it operates.

The children's art house, Bibiana, in Bratislava, is the brightest example of approaching its young visitors interactively. The Closer to Museum project, however, aims higher: to develop this approach for adult visitors.

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