Multilingual Museum Engagement in the COVID Era

Lightning Talk

Friday, April 23, 2021: 12:30pm - 2:00pm - - Lightning Talk

Will Lach, Eriksen Translations Inc., USA

In a country where more than one in five Americans–67.3 million people–speaks a language other than English at home, multilingual access to cultural institutions underscores their mission-driven role in society. In the COVID era, mission takes on greater importance.
For museums themselves, the severe cutbacks, closings, and drastically reduced visitation has of course driven online many institutions’ efforts at engagement.

• How are museums developing new online outreach programming that is multilingual?
• How are they retrofitting in-house multilingual programming—e.g. museum tours–to make them online- and remote-friendly? The Guggenheim’s tour of its Frank Lloyd Wright building with 99% Invisible, in 11 languages, offered a remote podcast version as well as a more typical in-house audio tour
• What are some inspiring examples of multilingual programming? ICA Boston created a series of beautifully designed, dual-language online art education kits in Spanish, based on the work of contemporary artists
• How are museums going big? LACMA launched an online art education video series, in 8 languages, including Farsi, Armenian, and Tagalog

Bibliography:
American Alliance of Museums. “National Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums.” Accessed 1/28/2021. https://www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/AAMCOVID-19SnapshotSurvey-1.pdf

census.gov American Community Survey, 2018