Science and Research in the National Museum
The year 2020 was extremely challenging for the National Museum in all aspects and also affected the field of scientific and research activities. The uncertain development of the situation and, in particular, the ever-changing measures associated with the pandemic were a real test for both the public and internal operation of the institution. Visits to the exhibitions were not allowed, and the research and library service was also closed for several months not only for the lay and professional public, but also for the employees of the National Museum themselves. Of course, such a situation was not limited to the National Museum, but involved also other memory institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad. Especially during the spring and then autumn wave of the pandemic, the operation at the workplaces themselves was significantly reduced. They were either completely inaccessible or, as far as possible, the employees worked on shifts in combination with work from home (home office). Due to the deteriorating situation abroad as well, foreign and domestic business trips were banned for several months in accordance with government measures, and in the period in which the restrictions were loosened and the trips were allowed, their realization was blocked due to the implementation of measures of other states. The measures themselves also had an impact on reducing the use of services or delayed delivery of materials and equipment. These aspects as a whole had a negative impact on all research areas. Closing or limited access to libraries, archives, research rooms, collections both in the Czech Republic and abroad has greatly hindered research work, access to comparative material, and cooperation at professional workplaces. Many resources are still not digitized and require physical contact and processing. In addition to the above-mentioned research, travel restrictions have had a significant impact on field research, especially if it can only be carried out during a certain seasonal period. Therefore, it was necessary to adapt to the processing of data and knowledge obtained from previous research, focusing on the collections of the National Museum, foreign loans and digital resources. Most international conferences were cancelled, postponed to the following years or held with restrictions in the on-line environment. Of course, the situation not only has a relevant impact this year, but will also have an impact in the coming years, even in the event of a positive development of the pandemic emergency.
Nevertheless, in 2020 the scientific and research activities of the National Museum within the natural and social sciences took place in all 26 research areas, 100 partial goals and 75 specific controllable goals were addressed according to the concept of Institutional Support for the Long-Term Conceptual Development of Research Organizations (IP DKRVO). In parallel, in 2020 the NM dealt with a total of 36 projects of various subsidy programs and specializations. The outcome includes almost 290 applied results, which were reported to the Register of Information on Results (RIV). Among them were 99 articles published in prestigious, high impact factor journals and 21 books. In terms of the results of applied research, 3 specialized public databases, 3 certified methodologies and one functional sample were published. Out of the applied results, it is necessary to mention at least one impacted article in the prestigious journal Science, which presented revolutionary results on the beginning of the evolution of jaw teeth. Even so, the decrease in the number of results, due to the above-mentioned restrictions, is noticeable compared to previous years. As far as possible, the results were presented by the staff of the National Museum at 28 domestic and foreign conferences, seminars and workshops, while a significant part took place in the on-line environment and a number of in particular international conferences were postponed to the following years.
To a limited extent, in the period before the pandemic and in the period between, field research was carried out both within the regional focus on the territory of the Czech Republic and at important scientific and archaeological or ethnological localities abroad. Thus, to a limited extent, the research in Sudan could continue, but unfortunately the measures delayed research in Syria or Algeria. Newly concluded collaborations, for example, expanded the possibility of archaeological research in the Yambol region in Bulgaria or ethnological research of Czech roots in Ukraine. As part of the evaluation of research organizations based on the interim report on the fulfilment of the IP DKRVO for 2020, the National Museum was awarded the best grade A. Also, in 2020, a new Concept of Development and Support of Research and Development in the National Museum 2021–2023 was drafted, which is based on balance and follows on from the 2016–2020 concept. The concept was officially approved by the Scientific Council of the National Museum at its last meeting and subsequently by the General Director of the National Museum. The three-year term of office of the members of the Scientific Council of the National Museum ended in 2020, and in 2021 it will meet in a new composition.
The popularization of science and research of the National Museum took place, as far as possible with regard to the measures associated with the pandemic, in the form of exhibitions, lectures and accompanying programs. In 2020, a total of 22 exhibition projects were implemented in the premises of the National Museum, the promotion of which took place in the form of posters, billboards, leaflets, outdoor advertisements, spots on television, radio, advertising, as well as on websites and social networks. Accompanying programs and events had to be adapted to the current situation. In spite of this, 6 workshops, 28 excursions and 28 popularization lectures were prepared for visitors. With regard to the measures, already traditional events were modified, such as the international project City Nature Challenge, for which it was necessary to limit the physical campaign, and on the contrary, it was focused mainly on the virtual environment. A completely new element was the preparation of 17 virtual exhibitions on the INDIHU platform, which mostly reflected the exhibitions that had already taken place, or ongoing exhibitions, but without public access. This significantly expanded the offer, which had so far only been on the eSbírky or Google Arts and Culture platforms. As part of virtual exhibitions, new projects were created, for example, documenting the history of the blue whale skeleton. As part of the Google Arts and Culture campaign for the International Museum Day, this exhibition was ranked among the top ten exhibitions in the world.
The employees of the National Museum were also active in terms of popularization publishing activities. In 2020, among other things, 5 catalogues and 7 brochures for exhibitions, 134 popularization articles (printed and on-line versions) were published. In addition, other 29 media outputs on radio and television can be mentioned. In 2020, new websites were created and launched for periodical and non-periodical publications of the National Museum (www.publikace.nm.cz), which thus offer the complete publishing activities of the National Museum both in the field of professional publications and popularization literature.
Out of the 36 mentioned projects of various subsidy programs, 10 basic research projects of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (GA CR) and 8 NAKI applied research projects were addressed in the National Museum in 2020. 2 new GA CR projects and 2 new NAKI II projects were acquired with the beginning of the involvement in 2020. Furthermore, the two-year cycle of internal grants (2019-2020) supporting young researchers under the age of 35 was completed. A total of 4 internal scientific projects and 2 interdisciplinary projects were dealt with. During the year, a new call for applications for internal grants of the National Museum for the years 2021–2022 was opened, within which 8 internal scientific projects and 2 interdisciplinary projects were selected, beginning in 2021.
Project and professional activities also took place outside the professional units of the National Museum. An example is represented by two projects of applied research of the NAKI subsidy program addressed in 2020 within the Department for Central Collection and Exhibition Activities, and one new project within the Department of Digitization and Information Systems. These departments are also involved in addressing research objectives through institutional support.