Museums responding to current topics: The Migration Museum

A wonderful example how museums can offer new perspectives and provide spaces for engaging with and questioning current debates: The Migration Museum in London has operated projects since 2013, it now has a semi-permanent space and just started coordinating the Migration Museum Network that aims to increase outputs related to migration themes in museums and galleries. In a time when migration is front page news almost daily, they ask „How do we as a sector effectively respond to this?“

Migration Museum



(c) Migration Museum

New report on the impact of AI, robotics and automation

A new report by the RSA looks at the potential impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on the workforce – it seems to be less than expected in terms of reducing jobs.

But while the question might be how fast the changes are coming, fact is that they are coming. It confirms for me that life-long learning and creativity are key tools to cope with these changes –  arts and culture have real potential to play a valuable role in this, it is not just about STEM subjects.

RSA report on AI, robotics and automation

Audiences change – we change: Making Tate more inclusive

The Museums Aotearoa conference 2017 He waka eke noa – Museums Of Inclusion asked: How do we make our institutions more inclusive – accessible to everyone? In my presentation at the conference, I spoke about how we approached this at Tate.

Tate is known for attracting large audiences and has been associated with opening up and democratising art. It has delivered an impressive array of diversity-driven initiatives and the contemporary collection, newly presented when the new Tate Modern opened in 2016, is more culturally diverse than ever before. This is consistent with Tate’s aim to be “a truly inclusive organisation with a workforce and audience as diverse as the communities we serve”. However, in common with many other cultural organisations, Tate has not seen the consistent growth in diversity it was hoping for, and we realised we needed to make fundamental changes to the way we work.

We moved to a whole new approach: From short-term successful but often unlinked diversity projects in different parts of the organisation, we started to move to a new and more integrated strategy that places diversity and inclusion at the heart of Tate’s objectives and organisational practices. At the core of this are two initiatives: a new Audience Strategy and a Diversity and Inclusion training programme for staff to recognise and combat unconscious bias.

My confernce presentation “Audiences change – we change. Making Tate more inclusive” showed how we approached this, the challenges and what we learned in the first two years of this process.

Getting visitor donations in an increasingly cashless world

National Museums Scotland experience with cashless donations

Cashless and contactless payment transactions are rapidly increasing. Some charities are already using cashless devices to get donations. Now National Museums Scotland are experimenting with a cashless donations box and have summarised their experience in a case study.

Cashless donation.png

Art by text message

How SFMOMA is opening up its art collection to a wide public

Text a word (for example a mood, colour or item) or an emoji to the gallery and you receive an image of a related artwork in response. This is the “Send Me” concept developed by the digital team at SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, that went viral with 3.7 million texts sent in a month at its peak.

A great concept that works on many levels:

  • It is a way to share more of the art collection, the majority of which is mostly in storage, given the continuously growing collections of museums.
  • Using a popular medium like txt messaging makes it simple and approachable.
  • The artworks are among your text messages, which feels more like you are communicating with a friend – a personal experience and part of everyday life.
  • Words, colours, items or emojis, anything from the literal to the more philosophical works. Using everyday words rather than specialised art historical or curatorial terms or relying on knowledge of certain artists makes it playful and approachable.
  • Wide reaching – an idea that went viral peaking at 3.7 million texts sent in a month for SFMOMA  and triggering significant press coverage.


The benefits and challenges of a participatory platform

The first year of Tate Exchange

One of the most exciting and forward looking developments about what the museum of the future can be is Tate Exchange: “A space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art.”

Anna Cutler, Tate’s director of learning, talks about the first year of this experiment in her keynote at the Communicating the Museum 2017 conference.


Image © Tim Etchells 2015