Eye on the prize: how benchmarking helps stay ahead in the game

Comparisons with the best of the best help spur new innovations, improve productivity, and broaden vision. Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts has researched and operationalised a range of creative practices, as this photo essay shows.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 360 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) promotes 360-degree approaches to art instead of from just one disciplinary angle. To keep up with best cultural practices in museums around the world, it has drawn on a series of authoritative reports, says Nathalie Bondil, Director, MMFA, in a chat with YourStory during the MOSAIC forum.

For example, Unesco has published a report along with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) showcasing exemplary practices in management, visitor engagement, curator roles, heritage tourism, and artefact exchanges between museums. Museums also contribute to educational goals, not only through formal education but also non-formal and life-long learning, according to the report.

MMFA connects art to therapy, education and social commentary as well. “I am certain that culture, in which museums play a vital role, has an overarching mission to respond to broad social issues,” Nathalie emphasises.

MMFA has 450 ongoing partnerships with associations, clinics, hospitals, research centres and universities. “Art does us good – on both a societal and an individual level,” says Nathalie. Museums need to rethink themselves not just as repositories of art or spaces for exhibitions, but as forces for social cohesion and individual well-being.

Museums should touch on all fields of knowledge, spark discussion and bring latent ideas into consciousness, according to Nathalie. “A museum is a school for the senses,” she evocatively describes; art should be seen as a “soft power” in that regard.

She calls on museums to embrace the spirit of humility, generosity, flexibility, responsiveness, open-mindedness, and ingenuity. “Fostering and nourishing inter-disciplinarity will henceforth be an integral part of a ‘creactive’ museum’s DNA,” Nathalie explains.

The museum’s initiatives have been impressive: it received over a million visitors last year, thanks to an innovative series of exhibitions drawing on a collection of over 43,000 artworks. For example, one of the current exhibitions features French haute couturist Thierry Mugler (see Part I and Part II of our photo essay).

MMFA offers art therapy workshops and has an Art Hive creative studio where the public can connect with artists, educators and therapists. The EducArt initiative provides resources to high school teachers of all subjects, beyond art history.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and see how to bring out the best in you in new ways?

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.


Updates from around the world