Museums: houses of the Muses, culture and sustainability



Review of Elena Borin’s
“Sustainability Reporting in Museums”


by Riccardo Piroddi



The volume “Sustainability Reporting in Museums” by Elena Borin, associate professor in Business Administration and Financial Accounting at “Link” University in Rome, and board member of ENCATC – European Network on Cultural Management and Policy (Brussels, Belgium), published by Eurilink University Press in 2023, situates museums within the larger context of cultural and creative sectors (CCIs), emphasizing their significant contribution to the global economy. With museums experiencing steady growth over the past seven decades, the book presents a powerful debate for their role not just as custodians of cultural heritage but as active participants in the sustainability discourse. The detailed analysis of the cultural policies and socio-economic contexts of Italy and Spain provides a nuanced understanding of how museums in these countries are navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by sustainability.
The book’s exploration into the lobbying efforts for the recognition of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development is particularly enlightening. It offers a comprehensive overview of the campaigns and policy actions that have sought to integrate cultural organizations into sustainability debates. By examining the transition towards viewing cultural organizations through the lens of economic, social, and environmental sustainability, Borin sheds light on the emerging demands for accountability and transparency in museum operations.
Sustainability Reporting in Museums” meticulously examines the journey towards establishing sustainability reporting standards tailored to cultural organizations. Author’s investigation into the application and characteristics of sustainability and integrated reporting in museums is both timely and crucial. The book not only identifies the gaps in traditional sustainability frameworks but also proposes recommendations for developing sector-specific guidelines and frameworks that capture the unique value cultural organizations contribute to sustainable development.
The empirical research on museums in Italy and Spain is a standout feature, delivering concrete examples of how museums are grappling with sustainability reporting. Through case studies, Borin highlights the challenges museums face in adopting existing sustainability reporting standards and underscores the need for guidelines that resonate with the cultural sector’s specificities. The comparative analysis of sustainability accounting and reporting practices in these museums provides invaluable insights into best practices and potential pathways for enhancing sustainability disclosures in the museum sector.
The volume, therefore is a groundbreaking work that bridges the gap between cultural heritage and sustainability. Elena Borin’s thorough analysis and forward-thinking proposals make a significant contribution to the field, providing practical guidelines and sparking further debate on the role of cultural organizations in achieving sustainable development. This book is essential reading for policymakers, museum professionals, and scholars interested in the intersection of culture, sustainability, and reporting. Its insights into the cultural aspects and sustainable reporting practices of museums not only illuminate the current state of affairs but also chart a course for a more sustainable and accountable future for cultural institutions worldwide.




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