Ecomuseum evaluation and impacts monitoring


Tool No. 8: Evaluation and impacts monitoring

Ecomuseum evaluation and impacts monitoring

Expected stage of the ecomuseum

Implementation time

1-3 months

Description of the tool

External evaluation

Many Italian Regions approved laws about ecomuseums but few of them evaluated ecomuseums performances and non-monitored impacts. Recently, in some regions such as Lombardia and Piemonte, the second generation of legislation has come into force. It is contributing to shaping the so-called Italian ecomuseums 2.0.

The common issues emerging from the new laws are the role of ecomuseums in the care, management, enhancement and preservation of living heritage and landscape with community engagement and the need for a system to monitor the achieved results and the maintenance of the law’s minimum requirements.

Nowaday periodic monitoring and training activities are provided only in some Regions and Provinces such Lombardy and Puglia, but the recent law in the Piedmont Region provided a periodic monitoring.

Lombardia region evaluated ecomuseums both with a questionnaire (link) and through on-site visits.  The new requirements for Lombardy ecomuseums also ask about monitoring cultural impacts.

The Network of Lombard ecomuseums approved the Vademecum for ecomuseums 2.0 that is a document that the Network makes available to all ecomuseums for the explanation and deepening of the minimum requirements for the recognition of ecomuseums in Lombardy.

Self (internal) evaluation

According to De Varine, evaluation appears not only as a legitimate condition for the awarding and maintenance of the “ecomuseum” label, but also and perhaps above all as a way of constantly improving the quality of methods and confirming the reality of social utility of each ecomuseum.

The ecomuseum process requires a critical follow-up as permanent as possible, which should be carried out voluntarily by its actors themselves, preferably accompanied by an outsider. De Varine proposed a collective work of self-examination which should lead to a consensual improvement of the objectives, methods and programs. It is not a question of producing quantitative results or supposedly “objective” statistics. It is also in a way a process of self-training for the people who are most involved in the life of the ecomuseum and who often have not received any specific professional qualification. Italian ecomuseums, and in particular those in Piedmont, have already been the subject of reflection and experimentation on this theme on several occasions. De Varine in 2015, tried a theoretical approach, at the request of the ecomuseums of Lombardy. Any self-assessment must be decided, designed and carried out by the people who take the initiative, and this as much as possible in a collective and contradictory way, in order to reach decisions by consensus.

Guidelines to apply the tool

The self evaluation table proposed by De Varine attempts to respond to three issues of any ecomuseum that I believe should be addressed separately:

  • Evaluation of the structure itself: an ecomuseum is not an ordinary institution, its parameters can, and often must, evolve: the territory, the demography, the very concept of heritage, the human and material means, the passage of generations, the main and secondary objectives, explicit and implicit, the modalities of participation, sometimes also the legal status, as many elements as is appropriate to reformulate and question periodically, in order to ensure the sustainability of the ecomuseum.
  • Evaluation of the impact on the community, which will allow a measurement of the social utility of the ecomuseum: the management of the heritage is not the only function of the ecomuseum and it is not only the effect produced on the heritage that must be examined and measured, but the impact on all the dimensions of local development in a dynamic way, that is to say by accompanying the endogenous and exogenous changes which affect the territory and the community.
    We suggest evaluating ecomuseum impacts also through the Inside-Outside Impact Model by Douglas Worts. This is a way to link a vast range of possible public engagement strategies related to climate change action that can have impacts both inside and outside heritage organizations.
  • Evaluation of the ecomuseum process and the methods used, in order to constantly improve the effectiveness of the action in its various forms: modalities of participation.

Support materials

The De Varine’s table of self evaluation of impacts was presented at the 2019 conference by Piemonte Region about ecomuseums (read more in french; see the table of evaluation)
The Inside-Outside Impact Model by Douglas Worts:

For more details see the Author explanation their presentation and this paper


Lisa Pigozzi, Nunzia Borrelli, Raul dal Santo, Silvia Dossena, Lucia Vignati 

Scientific Coordinators