Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The birth of Heritance: Juste une idée

Heritance was founded in Vermont in 2007, but the idea has its root in Paris five years earlier.

In 2002, Heritance co-founder, Jean Bermon, participated in SITEM, an international forum of museums organized in Paris. Representatives of museums from 30 countries were invited to share their feelings and needs with the assembly of museums professionals. The overwhelming message sent by presenters was that most museums lack the resources necessary to protect their public trust.

The participants in SITEM listened to each other’s concerns and worked together in ad hoc round tables to find solutions to some of the most pressing problems faced by these museums. By putting their heads together, they came up with a number of feasible responses.

Jean recounts the story of an encounter with one museum representative, the director of a museum in Cambodia. Without introduction, the man leaned towards Jean and confided : « I just met a talented computer programmer who proposed extraordinary multi-media technology for my museum. To be honest, however, my real problem is the bats. How do I get them out of my museum ? »

Jean laughed along with his colleague and took away an important lesson. Each museum has its own needs. The starting point for any museum intervention is a diagnosis of the museum’s unique situation and its existing resources. Furthermore, Jean learned that many of the problems plaguing museums do not require new technology or large capital expenditures (although these certainly do have their place). Often pertinent and timely information can mitigate, or even solve, a problem.

Our purpose at Heritance is to provide museums with technical services on site and on-line so that they can find and implement affordable solutions to their own problems.

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