Ecomuseum, a modern museum form

The creation of new types of museums is connected to various factors, such as the expansion of the term of cultural heritage (in a conceptual and institutional context), the formation of new cultural politics by the international bodies, the appearance of new interest groups and specific needs which characterize them [..]. A characteristic example which illustrates the modern notions about museums is the Open-air museum or Ecomuseum which was created as a response to the traditional museum of collection of valuable items which was addressed at a small and sufficiently informed audience. Ecomuseums are a theoretical conception of G. H. Riviere, ethnologist and museologist, who includes in them not only the residents and the guests who actively participate in their operation, but also the ecology of the agricultural or industrial life which surrounds them. The emergence of the concept of ecomuseum was associated mainly with the theoretical approaches of the so called New Museology, which aimed, since the early 80s, to promote radical changes in museums, so as they could meet the growing needs of modern society which was changing rapidly. The basic principle of ecomuseum is that the monuments of an area remain “in situ” and the communication with the audience comprises of both the production processes and the lifestyle of the area’s residents. In accordance with the above, ecomuseums have as characteristic properties a) the existence of a community in their area, b) the active presentation of this community, and lastly c) the operation of two coordinated museums: a museum (roofed) of natural and human history of the area and a second museum (open-air), which includes all of its cultural or ecological monuments. According to Riviere, the ecomuseum is essentially a history museum, as it includes and interprets the intellectual, social and economic human growth, directly related to the natural environment and its effect in the determination of its particular physiognomy.

The meaning of protecting and administrating the cultural heritage has expanded the latest years in fields which are concerned with the administration of the natural heritage and of the natural landscape, thus creating new ways of intervention and protection. New categories of cultural heritage appeared, since nowadays there are references of traditional settlements, monuments of natural beauty, monuments of industrial culture, which compose the natural heritage. The new trends create new dynamics for the stakeholders who are asked to adapt to the new data.

The above dynamics caused boost and spreading of cultural tourism. Cultural tourism, as a mild form of tourism development, is a contemporary tourism model which extends its duration past the summer months, without necessarily substituting the mass tourism model. This new form of tourism is associated mainly with rural areas and it disperses in regions surrounding cultural resources. In this way local and interregional grids of special forms of cultural of similar tourism are developed: for instance, archaeological sites, museums, and single monuments are placed in a unified route network, as well as accompanying fairs, educational or other parallel events, with the intention not only of creating knowledgeable cells or the substantial understanding and interpretation by the public, but also of creating modern and alternative provided services. Thus, it is perceived that the new dimension of cultural heritage leads to new ways of utilizing the cultural assets through a synergy of all the factors that compose it.