Scenario no 3 from the Centre for the Future of Museums (of the American Alliance of Museums) is more balanced after the optimistic and pessimistic versions – though what we think if as positive or negative might lie in the eye of the beholder. Here is A New Equilibrium.
The 4th and final scenario will be published in October.
French president Emanuel Macron is introducing a free culture pass for 18 year olds worth €500. It will be interesting to see if and how it works, especially as money is not the only barrier to arts. Two writers consider the potential of the new pilot scheme: www.apollo-magazine.com/will-macrons-culture-pass-have-much-impact/
We might be tired of the term (I can see eyes rolling…), but it seems that the multitude of communication tools hasn’t fundamentally changed the issue. And arts organisations (at least the bigger ones) are as guilty as business.
Here is a related cartoon by the Marketoonist and an HBR article that suggest to revive the GE Work-out process to overcome the silos.
The second scenario from the Centre for the Future of Museums (of the American Alliance of Museums) is a pessimistic scenario: Fragmentation, challenging us to think about how we can future proof ourselves, our museums and society.
A third scenario will be published later in September.
The Centre for the Future of Museums (at the American Alliance for Museums) is creating thought provoking scenarios of the future to “help museums come up with creative solutions to the central challenge: how can we create a world informed and enriched by thriving museums? How can museums thrive, in the face of diverse forces of change?”
While USA centric, they provide great food for thought to consider where we want the future to go wherever we are based, and what and how we can contribute to it.
Starting optimistically, here is scenario 1: Bright Future
Musing about recent news on museums and art galleries, there seem to me to be three strands of museums models or experiences developing that trigger interesting questions:
Larger public museums and art galleries are expanding with new and exciting building projects to bring more of their growing collections out of storage and provide different types of spaces to accommodate artists new ways of working (Sydney Modern). Yet they are under increasing funding pressures with central and local government funds decreasing and sponsorships scrutinised or even opposed by artists and the public (Manchester science festival partners withdraw over Shell sponsorship). At the same time expectations are increasing in particular around visitor numbers and their role as tourist attractions. Big name ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions and new building extensions attract large audiences, but naturally can’t be sustained every year – and visitor numbers often become the one and only measure that gets zoomed in on as the sign of success or failure (Major London museums see visitor numbers plummet) with more subtle effects only discussed inside the sector.
Local museums are striving to differentiate themselves by better connecting with their local communities, involving the community into designing the experience and thereby being more relevant to them. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has rebuilt itself with this strategy and is now leading a new global initiative to spread this more widely and to make museums OF/BY/FOR ALL in their respective communities.
Private museums are increasingly opened by wealthy art collectors. They can act without public funding pressures and are essentially only responsible to their own vision and tastes. The Glenstone Museum, for example, is due to open an extension next month said to be “…designed around visitor experience rather than maximizing the number of visitors who cross its threshold” to avoid the “Mona Lisa moment”. Are these new ‘slow art’ experiences or are they elitist in a counter reaction to the ‘democratisation’ of art in the last few decades? Or are private museums just providing a commodity experience based on the art market and modelled on the major public museums? (Billionaires have franchised the modern art museum)
Interesting developments that pose challenging questions and dilemmas around what the role of museums is, how arts and culture should be funded, what we consider inclusive or elitist, what experiences we value and enable or how we measure success…
An inspiring initiative to promote reading and NZ literature: Scan & read