Informations and abstract
Keywords: Museums; Cultural Statistics; Cultural Participation; Audience Development; Social Groups.
If museums can be described, statistically, as a population, what are the reasons for such approach? What kind of information is generated when cultural heritage institutions - which are usually treated with qualitative methods, as individual, unique units - are analysed as a (large) group? In Italy, since the late 1980s, researchers have indeed accosted the subject with an encompassing, quantitative and aggregate vision. This approach renders an ex-post global, quasi-systemic picture of a field that is endemically dispersed from the institutional and fragmented from the policy points of view. Seeing museums as a statistical population helps highlighting common trends in management and budget, staff, conservation issues, research and cultural activities, relationships with the public, and much more. And, indeed, that way of looking at cultural heritage units discloses significant features of their territory, at various scales. In the general framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the article synthesises the main findings of the recent (2016) census of cultural heritage organisations in Italy, data about cultural participation and discusses the emerging challenge of audience engagement.