83% of low-income Europeans do not visit museums, an app will bring museums to them.
In Europe, 83% of the population with the lowest income does not visit museums or other cultural sites. According to the latest Eurostat data available, those from more well-to-do segments of the population have from 2 to 3 times more opportunities to access a museum or visit a monument. If we then look at young people between 16 and 24 years old, the participation rate is 52.8%: 1 out of 2 of them has not visited a museum or monument in the last year. An even lower rate is registered among the elderly (65-74 years), with only 40% of visitors.
To reduce this gap, the TOMATO project, The Original Museum Available To All, has been launched. This is an initiative promoted by the European Commission with the aim of increasing the accessibility of places of culture and knowledge, particularly for children from physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Carrying out this project, officially launched in September at the Children’s Museum in Verona, will be an international team involving no less than 16 partners in eight countries (Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria), and which will have its heart in Veneto, with the participation of Gruppo Pleiadi and the Venetian Cluster, as well as the Region itself and the Veneto Regional Museums Directorate.
The coronavirus pandemic had a terrible impact on the youngest children, who were deprived of their places of learning, schools and museums. Socially, physically and mentally disadvantaged children have been the most affected. According to an analysis by the University of Genoa, children under and over the age of 6 presented behavioural problems and regression symptoms, as well as increased irritability, sleep disorders and anxiety in 65% and 71% of cases respectively. In order to meet their needs, the TOMATO project, which will have a total value of almost 1 million euros financed by Brussels, will develop a physical kit and an app that will make it possible to enjoy museums also in a virtual way, in a fun and curiosity-provoking way.
The app and the kit will be created based on input from an analysis that will be carried out by consulting children, families and social workers.
“The TOMATO project, the brainchild of Pleiades, comes in the wake of the pandemic, which has been a miserable time for museums and cultural realities around the world. With our work, we will make museums accessible to all and through experimentation, stimulating curiosity and expanding the digital offering,” explained Alessio Scaboro, scientific and creative director of Gruppo Pleiadi. Thanks to the project, “museums and their collections will leave the habitual spaces through new educational and pedagogical tools, to reach the homes of European citizens,” the director continued.
“TOMATO is a valuable vehicle to bring young people closer to museums. Thanks to this project we will have the opportunity to show our cultural heritage to children, also activating an effective form of peer education. We cannot take into account enough how important it is to involve the new generations, and thanks to this articulated project, culture will be able to intrigue even the youngest,” said Marta Boscolo Marchi, director of the Museo d’Arte Orientale in Venice and member of the Veneto Regional Museums Directorate.