Sunteți pe pagina 1din 116

| National

Gaileara
Nisinta
na hireann
Gallery
of Ireland
| National
Gaileara
Nisinta
na hireann
Gallery
of Ireland

The Challenges Facing


The Challenges Facing

Museums
and
Museumson-site
on-site and
online
Century
onlinein
inthe
the 21st
21st Century
and
and
FutureForecasting:
Forecasting:
Future
The Challenges

The Challenges

Facing Museums and

Facing Museums and

Cultural Institutions

Cultural Institutions
Proceedings of the Roundtable and Symposium

Proceedings of the Roundtable and Symposium

Series No 9 & 10

Series No 9 & 10

Published in 2012 by
The National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square West
Dublin 2
Text Copyright the contributors and the National Gallery of Ireland, 2012
isbn 978-1-904288-45-9
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduces, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, mechanical,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the National Gallery of Ireland.
Series No 1 The Role of Education in Museums 1999
Series No 2 The Nature of the Education Service 2000
Series No 3 The Museum Visit: Virtual Reality and the Gallery 2001
Series No 4 Learning in Museums 2003
Series No 5 Effective Presentation and Interpretation in Museums 2004
Series No 6 Museums, Galleries and Young People 2005
Series No 7 Museums Galleries and Lifelong Learning 2007
Series No 8 Audience Development in Museums and Cultural Sites in Difficult Times 2009
Series No 9 Future Forecasting: The Challenges Facing Museums and Cultural Institutions 2011
Series No 10 The Challenges Facing Museums On-Site and Online in the 21st Century 2012

Editor: Marie Bourke


Printed in Ireland by: McBrinns Print Solutions
Cover: Taking Measurements: the Artist copying a Cast in the Hall of
The National Gallery of Ireland 1887, Richard T. Moynan (1856-1906).
Photo National Gallery of Ireland

4 Foreword
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
5

Foreword
Ruair Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills

6 Preface

Sean Rainbird, Director, The National Gallery of Ireland
8

Introducing the Learning Museum Network Project


Margherita Sani, Istituto Beni Culturali, Italy, LEM Project Co-ordinator

12

Key Trends in Museums of the Future


Dr. Marie Bourke, Keeper, Head of Education
National Gallery of Ireland

19

What will the Museum of the Future be like?


David Anderson, Director General
Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales

26


Innovative public programming of the future


Peggy Fogelman
Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

33

Museums as cultural institutions in the context of audience and enterprise


Sarah Glennie, Director, Irish Film Institute
Incoming Director, Irish Museum of Modern Art

40

The Growing Impact of Online Platforms at the National Gallery of Ireland


Brina Casey, Education Officer: Community Engagement and Outreach, Claire
Crowley and Catherine Ryan, Digital Media Assistants, National Gallery of Ireland

43

Agenda 2026
Siebe Wiede, Max Meijer and Marieke Krabshuis,
Netherlands Museums Association

112

Roundtable Chair and LEM Forum Chair

112 Acknowledgements
115

Photographic credits

roundtable

The Challenges Facing Museums On-Site and


Online in the 21st Century 2012
Contents

roundtable

Foreword

Jimmy Deenihan TD
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
It is a pleasure to introduce this joint volume of proceedings produced by the National
Gallery of Ireland. The volume is a record of the proceedings of the Symposium, Future
Forecasting: The Challenges Facing Museums and Cultural Institutions, held in 2011, and the
Roundtable, The Challenges Facing Museums On-site and Online in the 21st Century, held in
2012, as a response to some of the issues raised at the symposium.
These are challenging times for all institutions, including museums and cultural institutions.
The National Gallery is to be commended for having provided these opportunities for
everyone, delegates from Ireland and Europe, especially younger people working in museums,
to express their views, both in the lecture theatre and online. The range of speakers from
across Europe and the United States is very impressive and their contributions will provide
much food for thought for museum practitioners. I was particularly encouraged by the use of
online resources, which I hope will become a more frequent feature of the cultural landscape
in Ireland.
It is a particular pleasure to acknowledge the assistance of LEM, the Learning Museum
Network Project, in supporting this event. The Learning Museum Network Project involves
museums from over twenty countries, including Ireland, in a range of projects exploring
issues such as the ageing population, audience development, intercultural dialogue and new
trends in 21st-century museums.
Once again, I would like to express my appreciation to the National Gallery for organising
the Symposium and Roundtable. Museums and galleries are an integral part of Irelands
cultural landscape, and I am sure that this record will provide a useful and thought-provoking
tool for all of those involved in the development of these important cultural institutions in
the future.

I am very pleased that the Department of Education and Skills is involved in these joint
proceedings dealing with the challenges facing museums in the 21st century. As museums
cater for all ages, it is important to be aware that there is over 34% of the Irish population
under age 24. It is essential, therefore, that any discussion about future forecasting in
museums takes into account creating provisions and opportunities for young people to gain
access to culture from the earliest age.
The Department of Education and Skills supports a fully rounded education, which involves
not just the key curriculum subjects but also sports, physical education, arts in education
and access to culture. In addition to the collections of the National Cultural Institutions,
there is a widespread network of regional and local museums and galleries, art centres and
exhibition venues, providing access to culture through displays, rotating exhibitions, tours,
lectures, practical workshops, film screenings and other activities. As a result of the speed of
online developments and iphones/pads, children, students and adult lifelong learners have
amazing opportunities to access information and images of the collections from the websites
of major museums and galleries. Online learning, formal and informal education are new
opportunities in a world where museums have the chance to provide access to culture and
encourage people of all ages to learn even more.
I would like to encourage schools to become more involved in the collections of our museums,
libraries, historic houses etc, through activities and events and online learning facilities. An
application on these websites that would allow artworks to be downloaded and annotated
would help young students. It would also help teachers to identify images before a visit,
encourage students to devise their own exhibitions, and to be used as a way to test them.
In this way, young people could devise online exhibitions and send them to their friends. I
hope that the discussion in these proceedings continues, so that museums will explore and
develop further opportunities to encourage young audiences and lifelong learners to engage
with the collections. There has never been such an opportune moment to access culture in
21st century Ireland.

roundtable

Ruair Quinn TD
Minister for Education and Skills

roundtable

Preface

Sean Rainbird
Director, National Gallery of Ireland
When the National Gallery of Ireland addressed the issue of the challenges facing museums
and cultural institutions online and on-site in the 21st century, in the course of a double-act
symposium and roundtable, it was because this subject has assumed a new importance in the
current economic climate. The discussions that took place during these events, in the Gallery
and online, confirmed the most significant issue currently facing museums as being the
severity of the universal economic downturn, the length of time that it is taking to recover,
with few signs of improvement so far, and the reality of the impact being just as serious
world-wide as it is in Ireland. As Declan McGonagle notes, this is a time of resetting and not
just of recession. It was enlightening, therefore, to see the range of participants of all ages,
who listened to, considered and discussed the range of potential present-and-future impacts
on our museums, in association with the panel of cultural, heritage and business experts.
The papers in this joint volume of symposium-roundtable proceedings (issue 9 & 10) are
different to previous issues because of the critical nature of the contents. It is most impressive
to look through the chapters of this volume and see themes that impact on the very core of
the museum, including the value of culture; the challenges facing new curators and what will
the museum of the future be like; the nature of future public programming; and the question
of whether museums are maximizing the potential of online platforms. Of equal importance
in relation to our public is the area of the changing demographics of 21st-century audiences.
The business case outlined in creating profitable, efficient services and revenue streams online
and at points of sale is also encapsulated in the chapter dealing with museums as cultural
institutions in the context of audience and enterprise.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all the participants in the volume. This
difficult and painful process of identifying the wide range of new and challenging issues is
essential if our museums are going to locate themselves within a newly defined world that
will emerge following the current crisis. Their voices are a valuable record that will serve to
help everyone seeking to address the future, in cultural heritage institutions and in small,
regional and national museums.
For the first time, both symposium and roundtable were live streamed with significant effect.
To continue the process of optimising the potential of online platforms, the National Gallery
will make the series of proceedings available on the website for virtual audiences.

The support of the Learning Museum Network Project and LEM Co-ordinator Margherita
Sani, is noted with appreciation as being critical to these events. The National Gallery of
Ireland is a partner in LEM, leading the working group New trends in museums of the
21st century. This very active group have been developing the LEM future trends project
since 2011 and its members are all listed in the acknowledgements. The symposium and
roundtable was held under the auspices of, the International Council of Museums (ICOM),
International Committee for Education and Cultural Action (CECA). The roundtable was
held in association with the IMA, the Irish Museums Association, and NEMO, the Network
of European Museum Organizations.
My thanks to all of the speakers who travelled from near and afar, for their invaluable
contribution to the symposium, roundtable and proceedings. In this context, I would like
to express appreciation to the symposium panel participants and to our symposium guest
presenter, John Kelly. It is important to recognize the vital role of the chairpersons in these
events, which was so ably carried out by Kathleen James Chakraborty, Sofia Tsildou, Ciarn
Benson, Theo Dorgan and Declan McGonagle.
My final words are extended to the Gallery team who worked so hard to ensure theses events
were a success, all of whom are gratefully listed in the acknowledgements. To each and every
one of you I extend sincere thanks.

roundtable

On the occasion of the publication of these proceedings, I would like to express my gratitude
to Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and to Ruair Quinn
TD, Minister for Education and Skills, for their contribution.

roundtable

Introducing the Learning Museum Network Project

Margherita Sani
Istituto Beni Culturali, Italy, LEM Project Co-ordinator
LEM The Learning Museum is a EU-funded project which aims to create a permanent
network of museums and cultural heritage organisations, to ensure that they can exploit
their potential as learning places and play an active role with regard to lifelong learning in a
knowledge-based Europe.
The project is funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme Grundtvig for the period 20102013 and can be regarded as the arrival point of a number of previous EU projects carried out
between 2007-2010, which dealt with lifelong learning in museums (LLML and MuMAE),
intercultural dialogue (MAP for ID) and volunteering (VoCH), all of which are documented
in the LEM website.
LEM not only draws from the materials collected, the lessons learned and the contacts
established by its forerunners, but moves one step further in the direction of establishing
a permanent space for museum professionals and adult educators to meet, exchange
experiences and good practices, learn from each other, therefore contributing to the creation
of a European community of professionals interested in heritage education and lifelong
learning in museums.
The network started with 23 partners from 17 European countries, plus one partner from
the United States of America, the Museum of Anthropology of the University of Denver,
taking advantage of the possibility opened in 2010 for the first time by the Lifelong Learning
Programme, to involve third country organisations.
As a network, LEM aims in the first place to grow and acquire new associate members,
which, in May 2013, had already outnumbered the founding institutions. A wide range of
museums, heritage organisations, academies, institutes for learning and universities are now
part of the network, in representation of 23 countries.
There are Ministries, Museum Associations and other umbrella organisations, individual
museums, small and large, institutions active in the education field, all working on an equal
level and engaged in sharing information, making it available to a wider public and learning
from one another.
The philosophy of LEM indeed is that of considering museums not only as learning places,
where educational activities are delivered, but as learning organisations themselves, learning
from the public, the local community, other agencies and, of course, from other museums.
The idea of peer learning is core to LEM and, in order to fully support it, work has been
based around working groups, each led by a LEM partner. The research subjects have been
chosen by the working groups themselves:

Training session, courtesy of The Finnish


Museum Association

Kick off meeting of the LEM Project in Bologna,


Dec 2010

LEM Project partner meeting in Tampere, Oct 2011

roundtable

Activities in museums, courtesy of Glasgow Museums

LEM Project conference in Tampere, worshop


session, Oct 2011

LEM Project conference in Tampere, worshop


session, Oct 2011

roundtable
10

New trends in the museums in the 21st century


Museums and the ageing population
Audience research, learning styles and visitor relation management
Museums as learning places - learning spaces in museums
Museums and Intercultural dialogue
In addition to collecting materials, sharing them on the website and eventually producing a
report on the theme researched, working groups undertake study visits to each others or to
third institutions, to come in contact with working practices of other colleagues throughout
Europe.
This idea of learning by being directly exposed to other peoples practices and experiencing
different work environments represents an important added value to the project, not only
with regard to the members of the working groups, but more widely, through the LEM
mobility scheme which is open to partners and associate partners and allows for the possibility
of spending some time working in another institution.
In fact some of the project partners, initially five, but increasingly more, have offered
placements to other LEM members, for periods lasting from a few days to two weeks to three
months. This results not only in the strengthening of ties within the network at personal,
professional and institutional levels, but allows individuals to learn by being exposed to
different working situations
Dissemination is another important aspect of LEM. International conferences, seminars
and roundtables are being organised regularly and attract a wide European audience. They
are occasions for intensive networking and learning, offer plenty of social events and are
combined with visits to local institutions to meet stakeholders. Where possible, they are also
live-streamed to reach an even wider public worldwide. A number of smaller dissemination
events are also organised at local or national level.
Finally, the website is the digital platform where all the knowledge acquired by the project
is kept and made available. It is a dynamic and interactive forum, first of all to receive and
exchange materials about the subject area museums and lifelong learning and secondly
to provide information about the project. It is a virtual learning environment providing
information on existing literature, projects and actors and is kept updated through continuous
research, data analysis and provision of new information by an international editorial team
and by the project partners. Everyone is invited to send materials to be published on the LEM
website, and participation is favoured through the use of web 2.0 tools. At the beginning of
each month an electronic newsletter is sent out to all subscribers.
The website therefore functions as a community-building tool for all those who are
interested in the topics addressed by LEM. Through the networking activities of its partners
and associates, the website and the dissemination events, LEM expects to reach the whole
museum and heritage community and a large part of the adult education sector.

IBACN Institute of Cultural Heritage Regione Emilia Romagna (IT) (project leader)
OO Landesmuseen (AT)
Gallo Roman Museum (BE)
DMB - German Museum Association (DE)
ODM Danish Museum Association (DK)
Ministry of Culture Greece Directorate of Museums (EL)
SML Finnish Museum Association (FI)
Ministry of Culture Spain Directorate of State Museums (ES)
Cap Sciences (FR)
National Gallery of Ireland (IE)
Chester Beatty Library (IE)
Citt di Torino (IT)
Amiti (IT)
Rumsiskes Museum (LT)
National Gallery of Latvia (LV)
European Museum Academy (NL)
Sverresborg Folkemuseum (NO)
Romanian Museum Network (RO)
Nordic Centre for Heritage Learning (SE)
Glasgow Museums Glasgow Life (UK)
Manchester Museum (UK)
NIACE National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (UK)
University of Denver Museum of Anthropology (USA)
See: www.lemproject.eu

roundtable

The LEM Partners:

11

roundtable

Future Forecasting and the Challenges Facing Museums

12

Dr. Marie Bourke,


Keeper, Head of Education, National Gallery of Ireland
Abstract
Ireland is a small nation with a distinctive identity on the western periphery of Europe.
When it became an Irish Free State in 1922, the country was partitioned and the North
remained part of the United Kingdom. The total population of the island of Ireland is
approx. 6.4 million. All nations need national institutions to help them reflect on their past,
understand the present, and make informed and enlightened decisions about their future.
Thus, Irish museums, which evolved from late 18th century cabinets of curiosities, through
to the mid-19th century development of national museums, progressed in the later 20th
and early 21st century into a flowering of Irish cultural institutions. Following a period of
sustained growth, an economic downturn impacted on Europe in the new millennium and
its effect was felt on Irish museums.
Trends world-wide reflected similar experiences to Europe, as the current economic
uncertainty forced many museums to reassess, re-evaluate and in some cases reinvent
themselves. It is estimated that In Europe there are at least 38,000 museums with probably
over 500 million visitors a year, (over 50% of which did not exist before World War 11).1 This
impressive statistic that reflects a European-wide desire to create access to culture is difficult
to sustain. The problems facing all museums in the current environment are many.
Keywords: museums, innovation, creativity, learning, communities, participation.
Symposium & Roundtable
The reason for holding the symposium: Future Forecasting: The Challenges Facing Museums
and Cultural Institutions (2011) was to bring together a range of practitioners to discuss the
future of museums. The symposium was supported by the Learning Museum Network
Project,2 whose members came from Italy, Norway, Greece and Sweden, augmented by an
attendance of 143 people. Online participants included 322 people from Europe, Scandinavia,
Japan and the USA.
The Roundtable that followed: The Challenges Facing Museums On-Site and Online in the 21st
Century (2012), was addressed by keynote speakers from the USA, Ireland, Wales and Italy,
who advanced the dialogue, keeping it open and inclusive.3 It was attended by 135 delegates,
LEM members came from Romania, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and Greece, with a
virtual presence of 1,408 participants from Europe, South Africa, Russia, Scandinavia, the
Middle East, Republic of Korea, Canada, the USA (see the chapter The Growing Impact
of Online Platforms).
Trial Survey Findings
A pilot survey, Key Trends in Museums of the Future, discussed at the roundtable, had been
iniatiated by the LEM working group New Trends in Museums of the 21st Century in 2011,
to ascertain the response of museums to: (1) what activities were declining;4 (2) what events

Volunteering in the museum

were ongoing; (3) what were the new trends in museums. It confirmed the impact of the
economic downturn.5 A summary of the findings:
1. The declining areas were identified as audio guides; museums had problems funding and
installing the technology to run the guides, they were unable to employ people to manage
them, and they could not afford to give them away free as many museums do. The same
issue applied to evening hours, where there was no funding to employ attendant staff or to
cover the cost of keeping the museum open.
2. While conducted tours fitted the category of a declining activity, due to the inability of
some museums to pay guides, other museums mentioned these tours as an ongoing activity
that would outlive audio guides to be used alongside new technologies, because visitors liked
the personal interaction with a tour guide.
3. Three trends were identified as essential to engage the public in the museum: (a) exhibitions;
(b) social media; (c) educational-cultural events.
(a) The survey noted that museums needed temporary exhibitions and infocus shows to bring
in new audiences, just as regular and repeat visitors wanted the permanent collection rotated.
While this is to the advantage of the museum, it has to be resourced; without staff it is not
possible to mount shows and without a budget it is not possible to advertise and promote
the displays that entice the public to visit.
(b) Emphasis was placed on the use of new technology, e.g. digital media and social
networking, that increased awareness and interest in museums. The survey noted that the
potential of this area is still unchartered. However, online resources, such as websites, require
significant funds and staff to establish, maintain and develop them.

roundtable

The fun and enjoyment of ageing creatively

13

roundtable
14

Young artist: museums are for all ages

Arts-in-education at the Gallery

(c) Educational and cultural activities were identified as critical in helping the public to
engage and interact with the collections in the museum. A number of museums had reduced
services to the minimum due to budget cuts, resulting in a loss of visitors.
Symposium and Roundtable Outcomes
The findings accorded with the outcome of the symposium and roundable; the dominant
issue facing museums was the severity of the universal economic downturn, the length of
time that it was taking to recover (with few signs of improvement) and the reality of the
impact being just as serious overseas as it was in Ireland. Speakers noted that the range of
cuts of varying degrees is so severe that some museums have closed, museums have reduced
opening hours, there are room closures, a number have stopped evening openings, while
others have closed an extra day a week. The next casualty of these cuts is staff, with reductions
in the number of people working in museums, full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal.
In effect, staff numbers have been reduced through cuts or a jobs embargo with fewer people
doing more jobs and increasing amounts of work. Some museums reported a sharp decline
in visitor numbers due to reduced opening hours, while others noted an increase due to free
admission, more displays and events. Retail outlets, an important source of revenue, have lost
income through a lack of visitors. The result is an inability to maintain the quality service
that museums have worked so hard to build. Museums, therefore, needed to be creative
with existing resources, and to build sustainable sources of revenue from retail and catering,
publications and online sources, special events and fellowships.
A summary of key Roundable points:

What does the public want from museums - ask visitors, find out and deliver.
Opportunities exist if museums are creative and inventive in their thinking.
Museums must be well managed and clever with their existing resources.
Adopt fresh innovative approaches to generating income.
Maximise the potential of online resources and social networking.

and role models.

Help staff by augmenting existing resources with volunteers, internships and work

placements. A motivated volunteer force with a range of skills and experience can help
the museum to communicate the collections, maintain a standard of service and create a
good experience for museum visitors.

Broadening the Debate


The world-wide crises has resulted in questions being raised about the role, function and
future of museums.6 Conferences are exploring the traditional purpose of the museum to
collect, care for, display, interpret and promote collections, comprising objects and works
of art of tangible and intangible heritage (see ICOM definition7). Good governance and
management is increasingly important, together with the need to source directors who are
trained managers and leaders, capable of organizing the pan-institutional planning necessary
to run the museum operation, and forming inter-disciplinary teams of staff to work together
on museum projects. Although collections, historic and contemporary, are the raison dtre
of museums, they are under scrutiny, due to dwindling acquisition funds and the question
of disposals, as more emphasis is placed on their management, eg the care, conservation,
storage and security of collections. The desire to create access to culture, including getting
more collections online and on show, is part of the same drive wishing to see visitors engage
more fully with the collections.
The new emphasis on the public role of the
museum is seeing museums moving away
from being about something, as Stephen
Weil has noted, to being for somebody.8 This
places the spotlight firmly on the needs of
the visitor, what it is they are seeking from
the museum (using surveys and focus group
discussions), and moving swiftly to respond
to these needs. Encouraging visitors to
participate in the museum will involve
rotating temporary exhibitions and displays
and increasing the range of events, due to
the new awareness by curators, educators
and visitor services of access, engagement
and outreach. Inter-disciplinary teams,
including curators, educators, conservators,
research services, press, marketing and
visitor services, will work together to create
exhibitions and publications on-site and
online. Education will be essential to this
process, providing cultural educational
activities and lifelong learning programmes

roundtable

Consult colleagues outside the sector who might provide training, advice, opportunities

15

Collection Highlight: Frederic William Burtons


The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864

roundtable
16

that create enjoyable experiences. The increasing importance of the collections will result
in a stronger requirement to convey their meaning and significance in more creative and
engaging ways, thereby becoming part of an ongoing audience development programme.
The American museologist Elaine Heumann Gurian has asked why museums do not engage
more closely with their community, because a museum that is linked to and engaged with its
community will have a community that will want to help, protect and defend its museum.9
She describes the important physical assets of the museum as a safe civic space, with
objects that are useful for tangible three-dimensional learning, which can be incorporated
into relevant programs that reach all levels of the community. As these services could be
rated by many people as essential to their needs and their aspirations for theirchildren, it
seems sensible that museums and communities would work together as an integral part of
the community.
Creating access to information, together with the formal and the informal education system,
forms part of this discussion due to the nature of employment and the way people live
requiring new sets of life skills. As the education system adapts to train young people in new
core skills, museums can expand their learning facilities and devise innovative programmes
that assist learners to develop critical thinking, absorb information, experiment with
potential solutions and think creatively.10 Museums can ensure their objects and works of
art are accessible physically and virtually by devising a range of innovative online learning
programmes and activities, together with providing practical classes in studios and resource
rooms.11 Information access is essential as museums grapple with the need for applications
enabling the visitor to plan their visit, such as the My Met Gallery on the Metropolitan
Museum website.12 To plan a visit, visitors need to be able to find their interests on the
website, what works they wish to see (where they are located) and print a map of the selected
artworks with a floor plan of the museum. Accessing information in this way, e.g. the websites
Contemporary artists such as Pauline Bewick
engage with our collections

Drawing in the Gallery

Conclusion
The answer to whether museums can demonstrate creative thinking, fresh energy and new
ideas is a resounding yes because of the critical imperatives of survival. Ireland is an example
of a small country in which the economic situation is inhibiting development at just the time
that the country needs to grow. Illustrating this is the Irish Census, which noted that while
12% of the population is age 65 and over (4.6 million population in the Republic), 34% is
aged 24 and under. Ireland has a high birth rate, having developed the fastest growth rate
in the European Union between 1996-2006, with over 365,000 children born between 2006
and 2011.15 While an aging population is a world-wide trend, it comes from a generation that
reshaped lifestyles and the consumer landscape, and who could be potential lifelong learners
and volunteers in museums. The impact of a younger generation means that Irish cultural
institutions, including the museums that house much of the history and heritage of this
island, must be protected and developed for future generations.
When Declan Kiberd asked the question, What would a Museum of the Future look like?
He may have wondered how young people would gain an understanding of history. It
would be exactly like current museums of the past. For that past was once somebody elses
future, and it is also the most conclusive evidence we have that a future still exists.16 The
priority is placed on the value of museums to human lives. One of the reasons why museums
will be important for the younger generation is because, if young people lose a sense of the
past, they will lose something even more precious: a sense of their own future. Any discussion
about the challenges facing museums, starts with acknowledging the value of museums to the
quality of peoples lives and progresses by taking meaningful action in the present in order
to move forward into the future.
Bibliography
Agenda 2026 A Study on the Dutch Museum Sector, Netherlands Museums Association.
See www.museumvereniging.nl.
M. Bourke. The Story of Irish Museums 1790-2000 (Cork: Cork University Press, 2011,
reprint 2012).
Census 2011, Central Statistics Office Ireland. See www.cso.ie.
International Council of Museums, Code of Ethics for Museums (ICOM), 2006.
S. Kratz, and E. Merritt, Museums and the future of education, On the Horizon, 2011,

roundtable

of the Getty; Tate Modern; Tate Britain; and the Muse dOrsay, gives the visitor a sense of
control over their trip, which the visit should succeed in fulfilling.13 If the artworks could be
annotated with comments this would encourage teachers to select specific works prior to a
visit, ask students to create their own exhibitions and help them with guidelines. It would be
another way of testing them. In addition, audiences could create their own online collections
and exhibitions to email to family and friends, such as the websites of the Virtual Museum
of Canada and ArtsConnected.14 Informal lifelong education and online learning are fresh
options in a world where museums have the chance to inspire people of all ages to learn more.

17

roundtable
18

Vol. 19 Iss: 3, pp.188 195. See www.emeraldinsight.com.


Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills. Institute of Museum and Library Services
(Washington, DC, IMLS, 2009).
Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures, Centre for the Future of Museums,
American Association of Museums. See www.futureofmuseums.org.
NEMO News, Network of European Museum Organisations. See www.ne-mo.org.
A. Nicholls, M. Pereira, M. Sani (Eds). The Virtual Museum, Report 1, LEM Project,
(Bologna: Istituto per I Beni Artistici Culturali e Naturali Regione Emilia Romagna,
2012).
Understanding the Future: Museums and 21st Century Life the Value of Museums,
Museums Association, London. See www.museumsassociation.org.
S. Weil, Making Museums Matter (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2002).
1 Negri, M., Museums as Catalysts for Creativity and
Innovation, NEMO News, 2, 2009. p.1.
2 The Learning Museum Network Project /LEM
involves over 20 museums, see www.lemproject.eu.
3 A LEM forum took place after the roundtable
continuing the discussion on the future of museums.
4 The NGI is a partner in LEM. New trends group
members are listed in the acknowledgements.
5 Noted also by the author at conferences in Wales,
Croatia, Latvia, Portugal, and Lithuania. The main
survey was circulated in 2012.
6 See Agenda 2026 A Study on the Dutch Museum
Sector, the Netherlands Museums Association;
Understanding the Future: Museums and 21st Century
Life the Value of Museums, Museums Association
(UK); Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential
Futures, Centre for the Future of Museums,
American Association of Museums.
7 A museum is a non-profit-making permanent
institution in the service of society and of its
development, open to the public, which acquires,
conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits,
for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the
tangible and intangible evidence of people and their
environment. International Council of Museums,
Code of Ethics for Museums (ICOM), 2006), p.14.
8 Weil, S., Making Museums Matter (Washington DC:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002), pp.28-52.

9 Irish Museums Association Conference 2009. Elaine


Heumann Gurian website www.egurian.com, on
which she includes Omnium Gatherum: Occasional
Papers, see also Curator, 53, 4, October 2010.
10 Kratz, S, and E. Merritt, Museums and the future
of education, On the Horizon, 2011, Vol. 19 Iss: 3,
pp.188195. www.emeraldinsight.com. See National
Gallery of Ireland site: www.nationalgallery.ie.
11 Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills. Institute
of Museum and Library Services (Washington, DC,
IMLS, 2009).
12 www.metmuseum.org/mymet/sign-up. S. F.
Frantoni, Understanding personalization in
museums in Nicholls, A., M. Pereira and M. Sani
(Eds). The Virtual Museum, LEM Project, pp. 40-51.
13 www.getty.edu/mygetty/; www.tate.org.uk/modern/
explore/; www.tate.org.uk/britain/explore/etb.jsp;
www.musee-orsay.fr/en/tools/my-selection/myalbum.html.
14 Online learning tool of the Walker Art Centre
and Minneapolis Art Institute www.museevirtuelvirtualmuseum.ca/MyExhibits.do;lang=en; www.
aartsconnected.org.
15 Census 2011. Bourke, M., Ageing Creatively in
Ireland, NEMO News, 1, 2012, p.4.
16 Kiberd. D. Foreword. M. Bourke, The Story of Irish
Museums 1790-2000, pp. xix-xxiii at xxiii.

David Anderson
Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales
Across much of the world, but certainly in the United Kingdom and perhaps in Ireland?
we see a growing gap between rich and poor, with the obscene wealth of a few contrasting with
the obscene poverty and insecurity of a growing portion of the wider working population.
We see a relative concentration of power and resource in capitals, and the abandonment of
peripheries. We see a loss of faith in the democratic process.
There are also positives, such as the growing membership of charities and non-governmental
organisations committed to social and environmental change, and human rights. Digital
connectivity can be used for good or ill, but one benefit is to expose oppressive governments
to closer scrutiny. Another is the emergence of stronger national and regional identities
within and across existing states; the devolution of power from England to Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland is a case in point. There is growing recognition that funding in the
hands of museums in London is no substitute for funding and control that is directly in the
hands of nations, regions and local communities.
The work of the dead
I believe in the past. Used right, it can be a guide to the future. So we should not allow the
dead to rest in their graves. They still have work to do.
One great thinker who should not be allowed to rest is Patrick Geddes, the Scottish biologist,
sociologist, town planner, and campaigner for social and environmental justice. Geddes
was committed to community empowerment and the active involvement of local people
in the restoration and improvement of their own physical and social environment. He was
a powerful advocate of regionalism and of drawing on intrinsic urban and rural cultures.
As Geddes said of his proposals for the development of Dunfermline in his book, Cities in
Evolution, it was a plan and plea for conserving and developing the amenities of a small
provincial city. He said his approach was concerned with a civic renaissance and the larger
possibilities of civic life.
Another of the dead whose words and ideas remain relevant today is John Ruskin. In The
Two Paths, Being Lectures on Art, he said, Art must always be produced by the subtlest of all
machines, which is the human hand. No machine yet contrived, or hereafter yet contrivable,
will ever equal the fine machinery of human fingers. Thoroughly perfect art is that which
proceeds from the heart, which involves all the noble emotions, associates these with the
head, yet as inferior to the heart; and the hand, yet inferior to the heart and the head; and
thus brings out the whole man. For art, let us read museums and galleries.
St Fagans: National History Museum
As it happens, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales is embarked on the
transformation of St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, our open air museum, to become the
National Museum of History for Wales. So far as we are able, we are trying to create a

roundtable

What will the Museum of the Future be like?

19

roundtable
20

Testing activities for the


Activity Plan

Sharing skills with young


people from the Keep You
in School scheme

museum to help shape the future of the people of Wales. St Fagans was established originally
in 1948, with a modernist building added a couple of decades later to provide a reception
point and exhibits on rural social history. If it ever was fit for purpose, with its inaccessible
public spaces and narrow galleries, it is not useable today.
The main reception building for the site will, we propose, be completely remodelled, with
ugly later additions removed, and new education facilities and improved gallery spaces added.
Agricultural machinery will get much less prominence, and archaeology and industrial social
history will be given their proper place.
For the first time, the museum will offer a panoramic analysis of key themes and episodes
in the history of Wales. This will challenge comfortable myths and foster critical thinking
and debate. It will show that in the interpretation of the past there cannot be one history;
there should not, then, be one voice that of the museum but many from the past as well
as the present.
A new building will also be constructed at the centre of this large site. It will be situated in
woodland, and will explore the theme of humanitys relationship with the environment and

A new initiative on the site will be the development of an experimental archaeology zone
in the woodland. Here groups of students, volunteers and apprentices will reconstruct the
great hall at Llys Rhosyr, from Anglesea, one of the medieval courts of the Llewelyns, the
13th century princes of Gwynedd, and the nearest Wales came to having rulers of a unified
country before English colonial power finally took a grip on the nation.
In developing these plans, Amgueddfa Cymru has involved over 230 community groups and
other stakeholders in consultation sessions that have directly influenced the architecture of
the Museum, plans for the exhibitions, and the activities that will take place within it. We
have never before undertaken such a process, and for the Museum it is the beginning of a
new journey that will continue into the future.
A question of purpose
Randolph Churchill is said to have told the following story about himself. As he was walking
down the street one day, he passed a mother with her young daughter, and distinctly heard
the little girl say, Mummy, whats that man for? Are we confident we really know what each
museum is for?
Neil Postman, at the ICOM Triennial General Conference at the Hague in 1989, said a
museum of any kind is an answer to a fundamental question, What does it mean to be

roundtable

our creative use of the natural resources of Wales, over time. If the main building with its
exhibits is a place principally of the head, and the open air site with its traditional homes a
place principally of the heart, the new building will above all be a place of the hand.

Y Gweithdy (new building) exterior


21

roundtable
22

Artists reconstruction of Llys Rhosyr Medieval Court, to be recreated at St Fagans

human? He acknowledged that, at different times, different cultures need to know,


remember, contemplate and revere different ideas in the interest of survival or sanity. To what
fundamental question is your chosen museum the answer, for its own culture and time? If you
had the power and resources, what museum would you create, and where, to meet these needs?
And what is culture? An intrinsic property of objects? An active process, that works through
people? Something that will cease to exist as a characteristic of objects without human
engagement? According to the late John Blacking, Professor of Ethnomusicology at the
University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, culture exists only in performance. Here the word
performance should be understood in the broadest sense of the word.
According to a worker in Stockholm in 2000, who worked on the streets of the city in public
service (but not in museums or the cultural sector), many people think that culture is only
for special persons. They dont realise that culture must be a part of ordinary life. Culture has
to do with social morals, deals with human values in society. It is hard to imagine many of
us working in museums developing a more thoughtful definition.
We should also remember that cultures, like the museums that attempt to represent them,
are geographically located. Jeremy Seabrook, in Consuming Cultures: Globalisation and Local
Lives (2004) reminds us, Cultures are bound up with place; more often than not, rooted in
a particular space, in a particular environment. Cultures are the consequences of geography
as well as of history, perhaps primordially so.
For decades, if not centuries, there have been two significant and contrasting philosophies
of museums. The first is object-centred. It says that the most useful knowledge for museums

The second philosophy is society-centred. In this, knowledge is common property, created by


many different people; useful knowledge includes the experiences and memories of people
who are not professional historians, art historians or scientists; useful knowledge is tacit
as well as explicit; the role of the public in museums is active and creative; everyone has
expertise in something, including their own lives; and the museum is a catalyst, an agent for
cultural change.
Of course, truth does not lie wholly with one or other of these philosophies. But traditionally,
museums have favoured the object-centred philosophy, sometimes to the exclusion of the
other, and still do so. The balance we need, in our culture and place, is often lacking.
Museums in future will need to redress this.
Moral creativity
It was by chance that, nearly a decade ago, I came across the work of Howard E. Gruber.
Sadly, it was through his obituary. Gruber pointed out that it is possible for an artist to be
moral as an individual, but to lack moral creativity the ability to incorporate their reaction
to moral dilemmas in waves of art in ways that (like Picassos Guernica) communicate
profoundly with viewers. It is possible for someone who is highly creative in (for example)
science or music to have a low level of moral creativity.
The same principles may apply to museums, as well as to individual artists. The uses made of
works of art by others including museums on behalf of the public themselves have a social
and moral dimension. For a museum to claim that art (or any cultural activity) can exist in
a morality-free zone, or that to place its work in the context of wider public responsibility is
somehow to force it to bend to instrumental rather than intrinsic purposes, is a denial of
moral responsibility, a failure of moral creativity.
Mark Runco has written in the Creativity Research Journal in 1993 that creativity is a dimension
of every domain of intelligence, from mathematical intelligence to moral intelligence.
Moral need not mean traditional, dogmatic and conventional. There are many examples
of individuals from Mohammed to Ghandi who demonstrate unconventional morality
of the highest order.
Museums, then, have four important responsibilities in relation to moral creativity: to help
visitors to engage with works of art that explore moral issues in creative ways; to develop
exhibitions that are themselves works of moral creativity; to act as an interpreter with
audiences of societys values; and, as an institution, itself to uphold moral and professional
standards.

roundtable

and their audiences is knowledge of artefacts and works of art; most object knowledge is
in here, created by museum experts; the public responsibility of the museum is to transfer
this knowledge from staff to visitors; the role of the public in museums is to learn the
information; and if people do not use the museum, this is primarily their own responsibility.

23

roundtable

Some organisations have consciously made moral decisions in relation to creative endeavours.
The New England Journal of Medicine refused to publish research on hypothermia conducted
under the Nazis, stating, Knowledge, although important, may be less important to a decent
society than the way it was obtained.

24

The Museum building is just a shell


In 1995, in a programme he presented on television, Ben Okri described the consequences
that can follow from the removal of artefacts from their cultural context. He wrote:

Not all museums are so sensitive to moral issues. The Bowers Museums, Santa Ana,
California, displayed the exhibition, Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World, curated
by the (Chinese controlled) Bureau of Cultural Relics in Tibet. A protestor said, We are not
telling people not to go and see the exhibition. But it is damaging if the average person sees
it with no mention of the problems.
For Henry Shue, one of the foremost theorists of human rights, such rights should represent
the moral minimum. He proposes that for rights (including cultural rights) to be effective,
they must include meaningful participation by people in decisions that affect their lives. Such
participation, he suggests, must be effective and include influence over fundamental choices
as they affect oneself; must affect the outcomes; and must have the power to influence public
and private organisations. (The latter include, we must assume, museums).
Edward Said, in his article, The public role of writers and intellectuals, in Humanism and
Democratic Criticism (2004) identified three areas of public action amenable to public
intervention to protect against and forestall the disappearance of the past, which would
reduce it to a content of Jihad v McWorld, to construct fields of co-existence rather than
fields of battle; and to have the courage to say that what we have before us can be overlapping
yet irreconcilable experiences (for example, in the struggle over Palestine). Again, we may see
museums as having a comparable responsibility, as institutional public intellectuals.

In order to talk about the spiritual significance of works of art like Benins bronzes
[seized by British Armed Forces in the late nineteenth century in a punitive raid on
the kingdom of Benin], it is important to appreciate (that) they were a collective
manifestation through the artist of the way in which the people of that land think and
dream and remember and project.
When thats lost, removed from the land, the works of art are in permanent exile,
which is to say, one half of them dies. The second thing that happens is that the people
themselves are in a sort of exile. They are in exile from the repository of their dreams
One of the most effective ways of destroying a peoples spirit is to, as it were, destroy
the validity of their works of art.
Many visitors experience a kind of disadvantage that the philosopher Miranda Fricker defines
as epistemic injustice, in which someone is wronged specifically in their capacity as a knower

A museum is not only a building with collections, exhibitions, archives and staff. This is
just the shell. A museum is something else, something much more important. A museum
has been described as a way of looking and a way of thinking, a place of stories and ideas. It
is a natural and cultural history, a world of objects but also of memories, an exercise in the
out of living, and a place for debate of all the issues connected with the society we actually
live in. The museum in this sense may exist to some small degree in the building we call a
museum, but most of its resources, its nourishment, is to be found outside its walls, mostly
in the people in the communities of which it is part.
What, then, will the museum of the future be like? It will have a strong and clear concept
of culture. It will be rooted in its community, its region, its nation. It will be built on the
concept of cultural rights, it will be served by, not dependent on capital cities and national
institutions. It will enable its users to express themselves fully, and participate in a meaningful
way, with heart, head and hand.
And, it will be a place of forbidden love of profound, intimate and intense connection
between people and cultural artefacts (both tangible and intangible), the kind of love that
changes lives.

roundtable

(or, more specifically, by being treated as a presumed non-knower). Conveying knowledge to


others by telling, and making sense of social experiences, are two of our most basic epistemic
practices, but few museums offer their visitors the opportunity to do this.

25

roundtable

Art Museums in the Age of Participation

26

Peggy Fogelman
Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In her Foreword to the October 2011 study on arts participation commissioned by the James
Irvine Foundation, Josephine Ramirez, Arts Program Director, notes, There is a growing
awareness in the arts field of what have come to be known as participatory arts practices.
Arts funders and arts organizations are examining this seismic shift toward participatory arts
culture and figuring out how to adapt in new and creative ways that will have long term
benefits to arts organizations and the people they serve.1 The study goes on to discuss the
ways in which audience expectations have changed. This shift [toward participation in the
arts] is about more than just technology. People are thinking about the experience of culture
differently than in the past, placing value on a more immersive and interactive experience than
is possible through mere observation. Americans are activating their own creativity in new
and unusual ways [as] part of a larger participatory economy in which social connection
eclipses consumption. Americans want to meet the people who make our products, share in
the work of the makers, and make things ourselves.2 Similarly, in the 2009 Museum Section
of the New York Times Carol Vogel wrote, More than before, institutions big and small have
adopted the same mission: to transform once-hushed museums into vibrant cultural centers
where the activities go far beyond whats hanging on the walls.3 Although Vogel cites as
motivation the recent economic downturn and the need for museums to attract and sustain
new and larger audiences, institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art have throughout
their history sought to respond to external conditions and challenges through innovations in
public programs. There are several factors informing the current situation of museums: the
widespread use of technology and broad access to collection-based information and research;
the rise of Do-It-Yourself communities as an alternative to formal higher education; the
recognition of social, collaborative, or participatory practice as a viable medium for artistic
production; and the fluidity and contingency of identity within and among audience groups.
In order to determine how museums are innovating in response to these factors, this paper
examines the Metropolitan Museum of Arts past and present initiatives in relation to several
other models offered by American art museums.
From its very inception in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum was dedicated to the idea of
educating the masses. Its founding charter declared that the Met was to be located in the
City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and
library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of
arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects,
and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.4 The Museum sought to respond to
an era in which nearly half of the citys inhabitants were foreign-born and an estimated ten
thousand homeless children roamed the streets. However, the Museum initially kept opening
hours that exactly coincided with the working day despite ambitions to inspire the working
classes. Its first public programming innovation might be said to be the expansion of public
hours to include Sundays in 1889.
The Met continued in its efforts to respond to a changing environment and more diverse

By the early 1960s the Met had become a vibrant institution devoted to scholarship and
advancing public understanding of art through the expertise of curators and art historians.
But outside the walls of the Museum, notions of authority were being challenged daily on
social, political, and artistic fronts: the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, and
other protest causes gave rise to mass gatherings in Central Park, where the Met is located.
In the late 60s and early 70s the Met sought to respond to the new era through initiatives
intended to demonstrate the Museums continued relevance. In 1972, the Mets Education
Department developed a program called Arts Awareness which aimed to engage high school
students from underserved communities and promote individual expression by exploring
common links between art forms.6 Programs were led by artists and included improvisational
movement workshops in the galleries, musical responses to paintings, and experiments with
photography and the relatively new medium of video. Although the program was short-lived,
it was a radical departure from the hushed reverence more characteristic of school visits to
the dignified halls of the Met. Arts Awareness challenged assumptions about what could take
place in the Museums galleries. Instead of, or in addition to, quiet contemplation and the
didactic delivery of curatorial expertise, participants were invited to dance, sing, interact,
and actively participate in interpretation and meaning-making without predetermined
outcomes. Galleries became dynamic sites of expression using contemporary artistic practice
and co-creation models to break down barriers between visual and performing arts, between
historical art and lived experience, and between cultural product and cultural production.
Arts Awareness would seem to have foreshadowed todays models of participatory experience
in art museums conceived in response to the current seismic shift noted by the James
Irvine Foundation report. With information on our collections now widely available on
our websites and other internet resources like the Google Art Project, with instant access
via laptops, tablets, and smart phones, museum public programs can have meaning beyond
information and foster a different type of engagement. As Matt Popke, Web Developer
for the Denver Art Museum nicely summarized in a recent blog interview, What value
will a collection have when the same information can be gathered instantly and for free
from just about any place on the planet? Museums will be places where people can go
to experience something first-hand that they cant get through an incredibly detailed and
complete description that is always accessible. Museums need to become centers for shared
experiences and not just collections of objects.7

roundtable

audiences through public program initiatives. In 1913 the Museum developed tours for blind
visitors. The first non-English speaker programs began in 1914 and, in consideration of major
immigration trends, two tours were regularly offered in Yiddish. In 1926 the Met began
experimenting with the medium of radio broadcasts and in 1941the same year the first
television commercial airedit launched The Arts in America television series, seeking to
engage new audiences through new technologies that permitted entry into peoples homes.
1941 also saw the establishment of the Junior Museum, which visibly acknowledged children
as an important audience with specific developmental learning needs requiring greater
interactivity, context, accessible language, and creative engagement through art making.5

27

roundtable

Drop-in Drawing at Metropolitan Museum 2010

How Did They Do That? Metropolitan Museum 2011

Were Arts Awareness to be replicated in an art museum today, it would need to account
for several new factors. According to surveys, 72% of visitors to the Met come with a
companion, relative, or spouse and expect to share the experience with their companion.
This social experience combined with the sensory physical environment of the Museum
that Arts Awareness championed, help to distinguish it from both information-based online
engagement and the social exchanges that fuel the digital communities formed in recent
years. The virtual world has another consequence for museum programs: self-definition and
identity within social groups has become more fluid, changeable, and multi-dimensional.
The internet allows us to fashion multiple and interconnected identities through which we
function and interact continuously and simultaneously. Museum programs that categorized
and to some extent segregated participants by audience classifications served to advance
tailored and age-appropriate pedagogies but are now less effective at engaging people on
multiple levels in fluid social groups, indicating a need to re-design programs to be flexible
and multi-generational as well as participatory.

28

Several Met programs reflect these values in responding to the changed context. Drop-in
Drawing, for example, is a free bi-weekly, loosely guided drawing session open to visitors
of any age or level of experience, providing meaningful engagement for the proficient artist
as well as the visitor who simply wants to try her/his hand at something new. The program
innovates from the long-established tradition of training artists by sketching from original
works of art, through its informal design, lack of prerequisites or curricular outcomes, and
elimination of age or cost barriers. Drop-in Drawing emphasizes the permanent collection
galleries as sites of creativity and inspiration in which everyone can participate. Similarly,
a program called How Did They Do That? seeks to demystify the artistic process through
visitor-centered, multimodal approaches that explore the materials and techniques used
to create collection objects. Drop-in and free to the public, this monthly experience can
be tailored on the spot to engage the 5 year-old and the 25 year-old, the novice and the
sophisticated collector, depending upon who shows up. The fact that these programs are
regularly scheduled offerings is part of the Mets strategy to connect visitors with artworks
interactively and on their own terms within the space of the galleries and, in the process,
activate the Museum and demystify the art experience.

One could equally cite any number of recent projects in museums throughout the United

roundtable

Eve Moros Ortega, Managing Director of Art21 and Series Producer of the Art in the
Twenty-First Century television series, recently speculated that the increased production
of performative work by contemporary visual artists may arise in part from a desire to
instigate collective experience that must occur directly and in real time rather than in a
digital, solitary environment.8 The Met has embraced the increasingly blurred lines between
visual and performing arts in designing unique experiences that re-contextualize objects
while expanding the notion of galleries as active, participatory spaces. A Mariachi band
inviting visitors to dance in an original sixteenth-century Spanish courtyard, a commissioned
performance by world-renowned choreographer Shen Wei and company among the
sculptures of the American art galleries, and a seemingly spontaneous eruptionwithout
any forewarningof original marching band arrangements by musicians circulating within
and among the crowd of museum-goers taking a coffee break or viewing marble statues on
a Friday afternoon, all contribute toward an understanding of the art museum as a locus for
new, participatory forms of engagement.

29

Drop-in Drawing at
Metropolitan Museum 2010

Mariachi Musicians, Vlez


Blanco Patio, Metropolitan
Museum 2010

roundtable
30

Shen Wei Dance Arts, Charles Engelhard Court, Metropolitan Museum 2011

States that embody the current impulse to both challenge traditional parameters of museum
experience and underscore its unique potential through artist-led, participatory strategies.
In 2007, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles collaborated with artist Nicole Cohen to
create a participatory exhibition that united interpretive, curatorial, and public programming
aims to explore issues of museum period rooms, which have been removed from their
original contexts and functions. Focusing on several 18th-century chairs from the Gettys
collection, Cohen used surveillance and green screen technology to allow visitors to access
these objects in new ways, physically and virtually. By manipulating footage from the chairs
original locations at Versailles and the Louvre as well as their new settings in the Getty period
rooms, the artist played on notions of trespassing, questioned the interpretive authority
of the institution, and enabled visitors to determine their own experience and outcome
as they saw themselves in an unfolding visual narrative of the chairs contexts. In 2008
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) collaborated with Los Angeles-based
artists collective Machine Project to orchestrate ten hours of performances, workshops, and
events experimenting with LACMAs expansive grounds and collection. Activities included
learning to solder, getting a massage with musical accompaniment, and taking a nap in a
designated gallery nap zone. Other program components offered poetic reinterpretations
of the collection, as in a communal recreation of Sam Francis abstract painting Toward
Disappearance in the ephemeral medium of live flowers or a tabla performance within the
soaring walls of Richard Serras elliptical sculpture, Sequence. Shine A Light at the Portland Art
Museum in Oregon is an annual event in collaboration with the Portland State Universitys
Masters of Fine Arts program in Social Practice. For one day each year, MFA artists craft

These projects are predictive of future innovations. Yet there remain three basic challenges
intrinsic to museum public programs. First, if programs such as those at the Met, Portland,
and LACMA are to define participatory engagement for the future, they must be incorporated
into the everyday life of the museum and the business-as-usual working models of museum
practice. Museums have traditionally excelled at information-based learning: content
dissemination initiatives in art museums, whether they deliver collection information
through scholarly lectures or online publishing, have now become routine activities implicit
in the job expectations of curators and educators. Open-ended, participatory initiatives
and co-creation models are more likely to take the form of special event-based projects
requiring new and improvisational work groups and distinct, often unsustainable financial
support. For such programs to become a significant aspect of museum experience they
must be fully operationalized. Although seemingly an oxymoron, we need to institutionalize
experimentation. In addition, programs that occur once or twice a year, no matter how
imaginative, cannot substantially change the nature of audience engagement. Rather than
a model of innovation as epiphany, we need to explore the idea of incremental innovation
sustained over time that involves visitors in an ongoing participatory relationship with the
museum.
Second, programs must help audience members reframe their expectations of the museum
experience while also addressing their desire to create and share in the process of how art
is made. Appropriately within an art museum, artists are often best able to break down
perceived barriers between people, between people and objects, and between past and
present. Interacting with artists is a new and enjoyable experience for most visitors. Artistled initiatives offer open-ended opportunities for new forms of participation that question
traditional parameters and conventions of museum going. Especially in museums of historic
material, linking that interaction to collection objects in meaningful ways has proven more
challenging, but is essential to fostering a lasting sense of active engagement with the
institution and its unique identity.
Which leads to the third challenge: programs need to both engage audiences in new ways
and connect meaningfully with the unique assets that distinguish an art museum experience
from that of other cultural institutions and offerings. The original works of art as well as
the museums mission and history are necessary considerations in maintaining a programs
integrity and transparency for the participants. As many thought leaders in the digital arena
have noted, the ubiquity and ease of online access to collections raises the stakes for museums
and requires changes in response. According to Lynne Conner, there is a new ethos centered
on the audiences interests: Evidence of change can be seen in the museum industry, where

roundtable

programs, performances, games, and interventions that question and expand the ways people
use the art museum. Offerings range widely, from community square dancing to artist-led
discussions to tattoos based on works of art. All components originate from the artists
engagement with historical objects as sources of inspirationfor example, a nude male
wrestling match staged in a museum gallery to revivify the static sculptural image distanced
from the viewer by its pedestal and label.

31

roundtable
32

Asphalt Orchestra, Charles Engelhard Court, Metropolitan Museum 2012

many theorists, curators and administrators are embracing the concept of an open workthat
is, the notion that the meaning of an object can only be derived in real-time exchange between
the object, the exhibition environment, and the audience.9 The question, therefore, is how
to be more assertive about the uniqueness of the locative experience and, simultaneously,
more open to new possibilities in how people use the institutions physical space and objects.
1 Alan S. Brown and Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard,
Getting In On the Act: How arts groups are creating
opportunities for active participation (The James
Irvine Foundation, October 2011), p. 2.
2 Ibid., p. 6.
3 Carol Vogel, In Lean Times, New Ways to Reach
Out, New York Times, March 12, 2009.
4 Charter of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, State
of New York, Laws of 1870, Chapter 197, passed
April 13, 1870 and amended L.1898, chapter 34;
L. 1908, chapter 219.
5 Metropolitan Museum of Art Annual Report, 1941.

6 The Arts Awareness project was documented in


two separate reports by Bernard Friedberg, the
program evaluator: Arts Awareness, A Project of The
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Report by Bernard
Friedberg (1972) and Arts Awareness II, A Project of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Report by Bernard
Friedberg (1973).
7 http://museumgeek.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/
geek-speak-with-matt-popke/
8 Panel discussion, The Arts and Technology, Responding
to the 21st Century, Rubin Museum of Art, New York,
April 24, 2012.
9 In and Out of the Dark: A Theory About Audience
Behavior from Sophocles to Spoken Word, in
Engaging Art (New York, 2008), p. 118.

Sarah Glennie
Director, Irish Film Institute; Incoming Director, Irish Museum of Modern Art
My presentation at this conference comes at a point when I am about to leave my current
position as Director of the Irish Film Institute to take up the role of Director of the Irish
Museum of Modern Art in April.
My initial response to the invitation to talk at a conference about the future of museums was
that my own position was one of transition from one kind of cultural organisation, the Irish
Film Institute, to a move back into the museum world as Director of IMMA. Therefore my
presentation will be reflective of that strange period of flux that happens between jobs - as
you are still immersed in the organisation you work in, but beginning to think and plan for
your new role. In this context the key issues that I can perhaps most usefully address are the
ways in which the experience I have gained from running the Irish Film Institute will inform
my new role as Director of IMMA.
My career, until the point I took up the position of Director of the IFI in 2008, had been
as a curator and a director working almost entirely in publicly funded galleries. This meant
my experience had been working in environments that operated with a large reliance on
public subsidy, supplemented by additional funding sought through fundraising and some
commercial income streams. Audience participation and attendance were important to these
organisations but not critical to their financial stability
The Irish Film Institute is Irelands national cultural institute for film and has three core
activities:

The exhibition of film, delivered through

33

our centre in Temple Bar, and with partners


nationally and internationally.
IFI Education, a nationwide programme of
screenings for children throughout Ireland
Preservation, the IFI is the home and custodian
of the IFI Irish Film Archive.
The IFI is funded by the Arts Council, currently at
a level of 760,000 a year, and this represents 26%
of the 2.8million it costs to deliver the three core
programme areas.
The Arts Councils 26% subsidy is the only funding
that is guaranteed at the start of the year and the
remaining 74% has to be generated through the
IFIs various income streams - box office, caf/bar,
retail, membership, programming partnerships and
sponsorship.

roundtable

Museums as Cultural Institutions in the Context


of Audience and Enterprise

Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA

roundtable

This reliance on earned income was the thing I found most difficult about making the
transition from a gallery background to running the IFI. The IFIs financial model is not
unusual for performing venues, but coming from a gallery background it was something I
initially found quite terrifying. Over time I was forced to broaden my view of the role of
Director of a cultural organisation to one that has a much broader scope and remit than just
programme. Most crucially it forced me to really engage with finance and audience in ways
that hadnt been necessary before.
As my time at the IFI draws to a close I can see that the experience that I have gained working
in a slightly different context to museums and galleries has real relevance to what I see as
some of the main challenges facing publicly funded museums right now; firstly, in terms of
the acute financial difficulties now confronting publicly funded institutions and the need
for them to find inventive and flexible approaches to income generation; and secondly, the
challenge I see facing museums to be relevant and responsive to their audience - the people
who fund them. There is a responsibility and accountability that comes with running a
publicly funded organisation, and museums needs to adapt to the changing dynamics of
society and meet the changing expectations of their audiences. Put simply they need to be
places that people want to go to, want to connect to, and see as an integral part of the society
that they live in. There is a very real danger in Ireland, with the increasing emphasis on the
role our major public institutions play in attracting cultural tourism, that our home audience
can be overlooked, but it is this more engaged, permanent connection with the society in
which we are all operating that defines us. My presentation is therefore going to focus on
these two areas the importance of enterprise and audience to cultural institutions.
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham

34

The IFI is very reliant on box office to deliver the income it needs but it does not programme
on a commercial basis. It was essential to us therefore that our programme was protected
in a review of our internal income streams and that our core activities were not assessed
on the basis of the contribution they make to the IFI. One of the first stages of the review
was to identify and clearly articulate internally the aspects of the IFIs activities that were
undertaken purely to raise money our caf/bar, facilities hire, filmshop and membershipand these were rebranded as IFI enterprises and only shown in the accounts in terms of the
net contribution they made to the IFI. We changed the staff and Board structures to reflect
this with a Board working group dedicated to the enterprise income streams and a division
of the staff structure into three key areas programme, public affairs and operations with
operations having a particular focus on the management of IFI enterprises.
These changes raised some concerns for the Board and the staff - as a cultural organisation were
we distracting ourselves from our key aims and objectives by dedicating time and resources
to developing the commercial side of our organisation? But this position can be approached
in a different way. We now describe the IFI as operating a model of cross-subsidy, through
which we utilise commercial opportunities in order to fund our core aims of EXHIBIT,
EDUCATE and PRESERVE. Framed in that context you could argue that we would be
negligent not to focus on these areas and that we have a responsibility to ensure that their
effective management protects our core activities in the face of diminishing public funding.

roundtable

The IFI, like all cultural organisations in


Ireland, experienced a substantial decline
in public funding since 2009 and it
quickly became apparent that we needed
to secure new sources of income if we were
to continue delivering our programmes
at the level we wanted to, and crucially
to allow us to develop. Sponsorship
presented one option through which
this could be achieved but on-going film
programmes are not attractive to many
sponsors and there was a real danger
that a lot of internal resources could be
allocated to a fundraising drive that did
not yield the results we needed. The other
option was to look at our own income
streams and ensure that these were
delivering the best possible return to the
IFI. We didnt have the staff resources to
Dorothy Cross, Parachute, 2005,
Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art
do both so we decided that the area with
biggest initial potential were our internal income streams. The IFI is fairly unusual as a cultural
organisation that runs all areas of its operations the caf and shop are run internally and
not franchised out.

35

roundtable
36

A more detailed financial analysis of these areas quickly identified that the caf/bar and
filmshop, while both busy and on the surface performing well, were actually making a
negligible contribution to the IFI when the net costs were put against the income. Staff costs,
profit margins, pricing structures and other aspects of the operations had not been examined
in any detail or tested against industry norms. In many ways this was not surprising, the IFI
is a cultural organisation with a Board and staff that largely come from cultural rather than
business backgrounds. As Director I was not in any way equipped to address this issue but
with the Board agreed that investment in outside expertise would be essential and pay off in
the long term. It did, small consultancy fees paid to restaurant and retail consultants resulted
in a significant increase in the net return to the IFI, and importantly has given us a proper
framework for the future management of these two areas.
I dont want to focus here on the details of the IFIs commercial operations but to make
a wider point about how cultural organisations can respond to the financial crises and
reductions in subsidy.
There is a growing focus at policy level in Ireland on growing the base for philanthropy as a
means to support the arts, and this is very important. However, we also need to recognise the
fact that many cultural organisations have a strong enterprise aspect to their activities, and
the ability to maximise income from internal resources should not be overlooked. Business
acumen and commercial thinking within the organisation does not undermine its cultural
validity rather can strengthen it, and are skills that are going to become more and more
important to the viability of many organisations.
When I started at the IFI in 2008 it was facing a number of threats to its ability to maintain
audience. Digital cinema meant that titles that had previously been exclusive to the IFI
were now in multiple cinemas throughout Dublin, and the cinema landscape was changing
with more cinemas opening up. Whereas the exclusivity of the films that the IFI showed
had previously been enough to attract the audience, we now had to give people a reason to
come, to choose the IFI over others, and to continue to make that choice. This began as a
financial imperative, the IFI cannot exist without high visitor numbers and this financial
reality is always there, but it became part of a wider process of defining the IFI as a centre
of film culture. Our intention is to create a unique space that offers many different ways for
people to engage with cinema and one that film lovers want to be part of.
We have approached this in three ways: by ensuring that the primacy of the visitor experience
is central to the day-to-day operations of the building; by using our membership scheme and
communications strategy to create an extended film community whose connection to the
IFI extends beyond their visits to the building; and through a consideration of audience in
all our programming with the intention of creating a more porous relationship between the
IFI programmes and the audience.
The primacy of the visitor experience may sound like an obvious thing, but it is something
that I think should never be overlooked. Peoples time is precious, if they invest that time in

coming to your organisation that needs to be a pleasurable and rewarding experience are
the staff polite, the information clear, are the facilities ok, can you have a nice cup of coffee,
can you change your babys nappy, do your opening hours suit the audience - these are all
questions that should inform our daily thinking but can get overshadowed by the pressures
of delivering programme, dealing with funders and just generally keeping things afloat.
The re-launch of the IFI Membership and accompanying Loyalty Card has been central to
our ability to grow and keep our audience. Cinema offers a very good model for maximising
these kinds of schemes as we can offer very tangible benefits in terms of free tickets and
discounts, but the success of the IFI Membership scheme has also been due to its low
price point and marketing strategy. It is presented as a system that rewards and benefits our
audience, not a support mechanism, and is positioned as an invitation to our audience to
become part of the IFI community. Members are not just an important income generator;
they provide you with a core audience with whom you can communicate directly. Members
are interested in what you do and visit regularly and so provide a powerful pool of advocates
for the organisation which is a very important resource for the organisation.
A consideration of audience in our programming does not mean putting on programmes
we know will easily attract high audience numbers. While the IFI needs to achieve high
box office results we aim to do this with a broad and diverse programme of cultural cinema
that is not always immediately accessible and can be very challenging to audiences. And
within that we are very realistic about the size of audience some films are ever likely to
attract. But we do think about how this programme is framed and communicated to the
audience if we think something is important for us to show, are we making this evident?.

roundtable

Alice Maher, Berry Dress, 1994, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art

37

roundtable
38

This can be done in a number of ways, through mechanisms that can reach a large audience;
blogs, staff recommendations in the programme, reviews posted on Twitter and Facebook;
to talks, lectures and special events for those looking for a more in-depth engagement with
the programme. Central to this strategy has been the foregrounding of the voice and opinion
of the IFI staff, making our programming decisions apparent and inviting a debate with our
audience about this.
One of our more successful initiatives in this area has been The Critical Take, a monthly
discussion event at which three films from the programme are discussed by IFI programmers,
invited panellists and the audience. The discussions are very informal and frequently fairly
heated with the audience making a vital contribution. The real value of Critical Take for
the IFI is the regular opportunity it has created in the programme for a two way discussion
between our audience and programmers.
We have also looked closely at the types of entry points we offer into the programme these
range from formal lectures, directors interviews, evening courses, informal talks to very
brief introductions contextualising the films. Many of the events that we run do not directly
address cinema but touch on the wider cultural issues that our programme reflects. Broadly
once a programme is fixed, we then ask if this needs to be contextualised for the audience,
and if so how should this be done. This isnt something that is solely the domain of the
Education department, but is integral to the work of all the programming team.
Social networking is increasingly being recognised as a vital tool for cultural organisations to
communicate with their audience and this is an area that the IFI has developed significantly
in recent years as central to our audience development strategy. It is more than just an
information tool to post notices of events or publicise programmes, its real potential lies in
the space it provides for cultural organisation to further communicate with their audience
the context for their programme in order to develop and maintain a connection and greater
sense of engagement - however limited and fleeting this might be.
These are just some examples of the kind of things we have tried to develop the audience for
our programmes a lot of this is trial and error, and I am by no means proposing a template
of how cultural organisations can engage with audiences. My comments are more a reflection
of how a financial imperative developed within the IFI, a heightened and very responsive
awareness of the audiences experience of what we do, and the things we have learned in
developing different ways through which we can draw the public into an engagement with
the IFIs programme.

The strategies that I have discussed here should in no way dominate or overrun the core
objectives of an institution. But my role as Director of the IFI has made evident to me that
recognition of the role of enterprise, communications, facilities management and audience
engagement within cultural organisations strengthens and supports programming. Effective
management and concentration on these areas can release resources and ensure that the
programmes we all care so much about have the impact and reach they deserve.

roundtable

But of course central to all of this is the programme and our three core aims to exhibit,
educate and preserve. We do not define our success by the number of likes we have on
Facebook or the number of members we have. We define ourselves by the quality of the
programmes we deliver, the effect that the films we screen have on our audience, large or
small, the films that we save and preserve in the Irish Film Archive, and the introduction to
extraordinary cinema we provide to 20,000 schoolchildren across the county each year. For
all museums and cultural organisations it is that primacy of the cultural experience that we
offer our audiences that drives what we do, and makes the potential we hold within society
so potent.

39

roundtable

The Growing Impact of Online Platforms


at the National Gallery of Ireland

Brina Casey, Education Officer: Community Engagement and Outreach, Claire Crowley
and Catherine Ryan, Digital Media Assistants, National Gallery of Ireland
The 2011 Symposium, Future Forecasting: The Challenges Facing Museums and Cultural
Institutions, and the accompanying 2012 Roundtable, The Challenges Facing Museums Onsite and Online in the 21st Century, were the first events held at the National Gallery of Ireland
which actively utilised internet and social networking platforms in order to expand the reach
of the days events and allow for interaction between the speakers and audience in attendance
and those engaging online.
The National Gallery broadcast the entire proceedings of both events online, while at the
same time the digital media team live tweeted the content of the talks and discussions,
using the hashtags #NGI2011 and #Roundtable2012 for the respective events. Any questions
or comments that came in through Twitter, Facebook or the dedicated email address,
futureforecasting@ngi.ie, were fed through to the chairs of the various panel discussions,
thus ensuring that the online audience had an equal input into the conversation as those in
the room.
This first foray into live streaming of National Gallery events was broadly successful, with
viewers from 25 countries accessing the two broadcasts. While attendance at the National
Gallery on both days amounted to 278 people, the decision to live stream the events made
them accessible to a further 510 people who watched online. As one might expect, the highest
proportion of viewers were from Ireland and the United Kingdom. However, there was also
strong interest from several other European countries, including Norway, Finland, Portugal,
Sweden and Estonia, while viewers from outside Europe watched in the United States, South
Africa, Canada, the Russian Federation, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

40

Of the various platforms, probably the most active discussion forum for both the Symposium
and the Roundtable was the @
NGIreland Twitter feed. This account
was trending in Dublin on the day of
the Symposium and the live tweeting
of the talks and discussions was much
appreciated by followers, with one
tweeter commenting: Thank you @
NGIreland for making this inspiring
seminar available online been great
to participate from Finland.
As well as receiving publicity through
established media outlets, such as
Rosita Boland in The Irish Times 14
April 2012 edition, other arts-based
online sites, such as artsmanagement.

ie and arthub.ie, also featured the National Gallerys events. Arthub.ie in particular carried an
extensive summary of the Roundtable, amalgamating their own take on the days discourses
with @NGIrelands tweets.
Subsequent evaluation of the events, carried out by the National Gallery Education
Department, raised positive and interesting comments on the expanded public access to the
Symposium and Roundtable. Fiona Kearney of the Glucksman Gallery, Cork wrote that it
was thrilling that the entire proceedings were shared with online audiences.
Isabel Bennett of Mseum Chorca Dhuibne, Kerry, commented positively on the increased
access that live streaming of the events provided for those located outside of the major urban
centres in which conferences of this sort tend to take place. She wrote, It was marvellous,
though, to feel one could participate in such an event without having to take all the time (and
expense) involved in a trip to Dublin, and I can see how I will certainly participate in future
events this way, if the opportunity is given. Nonetheless, she raised the concern that not
attending these events in person may mean that one misses out on the informal networking
and peer support that occurs through physical interaction.
In order that the valuable knowledge that is imparted at National Gallery symposia is not
lost, the Education Department has long had a policy of publishing the proceedings of
every event. However, the National Gallerys Youtube Channel has provided us with another
method of preserving and disseminating this information. In the immediate aftermath of

roundtable

Busily participating online at the Roundtable

41

roundtable
42

both the Symposium and the Roundtable each of the individual talks, as well as the panel
discussions, were uploaded to the NGI Youtube Channel and, at the time of writing, had been
viewed on 1,385 occasions. This is further evidence of how utilising these online platforms can
increase the scope of National Gallery events and facilitate learning into the future.
While speaking during the roundtable about audience engagement in museums, Peggy
Fogelman, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, commented that people want
to participate and not just be spectators. Indeed, the very same could be said of the onsite
and online audiences desire to interact with the National Gallerys symposia. According to a
report published in October 2011 by internet analytics firm comScore, 19% of all time spent
online is now spent on social networking and social media sites. Museums and galleries, led
most notably by those in the US, have embraced this trend, and have harnessed the potential
these platforms provide to engage new audiences. While waiting for the Roundtable events to
begin, an onsite audience member at the 2012 Roundtable tweeted that they were blinded
by iPads all around me, and as the days discussions progressed @ianbrunswick tweeted
us: Social media isnt just out there, with new tech, its increasingly everywhere, all the
time. Crucially, museums worldwide are engaging with this trend and using social media
to connect with a global audience. Since their launch in late 2009, the National Gallerys
Facebook and Twitter communities have grown rapidly, with over 3,000 Facebook followers
and over 5,000 Twitter followers. This new audience is eager to engage with the Gallerys
collections and events, and the online initiatives that formed part of the National Gallerys
2011 Symposium and 2012 Roundtable are evidence that we are addressing this new and
exciting reality.

Siebe Weide, Max Meijer and Marieke Krabshuis


Netherlands Museums Association
Foreword
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. Niels Bohr Museums deal with the
past, but are they in control of their own future? In the two centuries since the emergence
of museums, responsibility for them has gradually passed from well-to-do citizens to the
government. For the past two decades, the government has been taking small steps to return
that responsibility to museums themselves. Now more than ever before, as they gradually
start to develop independence and some have to survive without government subsidies,
museums must consider what the future has in store.
Society is undergoing extensive changes and museums constantly ask what these changes
mean for them. The rise of the internet, geopolitical shifts, breaks in ecological trends or
demographic facts - all these global developments and more have a direct or indirect impact
on all aspects of what museums do. The changes that the world is undergoing will affect each
museum differently. This means that Agenda 2026 will not apply to every museum in equal
measure. This document highlights the most important developments that the museum
sector as a whole is highly likely to face. In addition, it assesses the potential significance of
these developments for the sector and explains how they will set the agenda of the Netherlands
Museums Association between now and 2026, when the association will mark its centenary.
Agenda 2026 is an exercise in reflection, a sharing of collective wisdom and an outline of
what can be seen approaching from afar. It is also an invitation to join the debate, particularly
about the potential ramifications and the conclusions that can be drawn. This document has
been produced with the co-operation of a variety of people and organisations, and we would
like to thank them all for their contributions. Without them, we would not have been able
to arrive at this view of the collective future of the museum sector.
So bring on the future, we will be ready!
Introduction
Agenda 2026 is an exercise in reflection on the future of the museum sector. The following
steps were taken to produce the document. First of all, desk research was conducted to
identify developments and trends. Those initial findings were then subjected to further
refinement. Four relevant processes that influence each other yet are autonomous (demographics, ecology, geopolitics, technology) were set off against four social domains in the
Netherlands that are relevant to the museum sector: society, economy, spatial planning and
politics. The trends that emerged were then evaluated during brainstorming sessions.
During these brainstorming sessions, representatives from the museum sector and related
social fields addressed these trends in greater detail based on a number of questions. Are the
trends recognised? How relevant are these trends considered to be to the future of the museum
sector, and how predictably high or low are they considered to be? The sessions resulted in an
initial classification of the trends based on relevance and predictability (see fig. 1).

roundtable

Agenda 2026: Study on the Future of the Dutch Museum Sector

43

were taken

TOURISM
MOST IMPORTANT
ECONOMIC
PILLAR

High predictability

AUTHENTICITY
OF NEW MEETINGS

FULL
DIGITISATION

High relevance

roundtable

the future

Low predictability

DIGITAL-BORN
GENERATION

RISE OF
MEGAREGIONS

AUTONOMY
OF CITIES

elevant

autonomous

tics. The

ring

Low relevance

nology)

m sector:

INCREASING
EU INFLUENCE

ONLINE
CITIZENSHIP

ings were

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

ACTIVE
SENIOR
CITIZENS

GLOBAL ORIENTATION

MOBILITY
MORE EXPENSIVE

identify

the

CUTS IN GOVERNMENT
FINANCING

SUSTAINABILITY

INCREASING
INTERNATIONAL
MOBILITY

CONCENTRATION
OF COLLECTIVE
FACILITIES
IN THE CITY

WATER

LIMITED SPACE
MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY
BOUNDARIES

sentatives

fields

ed on a

ised? How

o the future

y high or

s resulted in

on relevance

44

Fig. 1 Trends according to predictability and relevance, version 1


Fig. 1 Trends according to predictability and relevance, version 1

The trends on this graph are divided into four categories. Each category requires a different
approach:
The trends on this graph are divided into four categories. Each category requires a different approach:
Trends
high predictability
and high
relevance approach
>initiate
1)1)Trends
withwith
high predictability
and high relevance
approach
initiate
Trends
low predictability
and high
relevance approach
>actively monitor
2)2)Trends
withwith
low predictability
and high relevance
approach
actively monitor
3)
Trends
with
high
predictability
and
low
relevance
approach

>passively monitor
3) Trends with high predictability and low relevance approach
passively monitor
4)4)Trends
withwith
low predictability
and low relevance
approach
ignore
Trends
low predictability
and low
relevance approach
>ignore
In accordance with this approach, only the trends with a high degree of relevance are included
in the process from this point onwards. These trends were subsequently grouped as there was
a great deal of overlap. They were then handed over to experts (trade specialists, academics,
R&D specialists). This resulted in some of the trends being allocated a new position in the
graph.
Some trends proved to be declining in predictability as they developed. Trends were also
moved on the relevance axis as they proved to be relevant at the macro level but much less
relevant at the meso level. These adjustments resulted in the adjacent graph.
This shows that the six trends central to Agenda 2026 are:
1. Retirement of baby boomers
2. Growth of international cultural tourism
3. Cuts in subsidies
4. Development of the Randstad* metropolitan area

ed as there was a

er to experts

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

This resulted in

n in the graph.

lity as they

ance axis as they

h less relevant at

2026 are:

Low relevance

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

rea

Fig. 2 Trends according to predictability and relevance, version 2

ties: Amsterdam,

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

Fig. 2 Trends according to predictability and relevance, version 2

These trends are discussed in the chapters of the same title. A description and explanation
are given
trend.
chapter
willtitle.
then
address the
trend
These
trendsfor
are each
discussed
in theEach
chapters
of the same
A description
and position
explanationof
arethe
given
for within the
overall
picture.
Every
description
willofbetheconcluded
the picture.
possible
consequences for
each
trend.
Each chapter
willtrend
then address
the position
trend within with
the overall
Every
museums.
Chapter
7
describes
the
main
conclusions.
trend description will be concluded with the possible consequences for museums. Chapter 7 describes
the main conclusions.

1. Retirement of baby boomers


Trend
In 2026, the population of the Netherlands will be 17.3 million, 0.7 million more than in 2010.
Although population growth will be slowing, the population will have changed significantly:
by 2026, the population will have significantly aged. In 2010, 15% of the population was 65
years of age or older. By 2026, this figure will be nearly 22%. The large group of baby boomers
who will retire between 2010 and 2030 is generally healthy, has a high life expectancy, is
relatively well-educated and well-off and will remain active until a very advanced age. The
age group just below the baby boomers will retire later, at an age of between 65 and 70. The
flip-side of the increased life expectancy is an increase in the number of care recipients who
make use of a differentiated care channel from informal care to institutionalised care.

roundtable

rom this point

Low predictability

High relevance

s with a high

5. Digitised society
6. Greater European influence
* Randstad is an area that includes four major cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and
The Hague.

45

h population growth will

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

roundtable

ds will be 17.3 million,

Low predictability

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

anged significantly: by

ntly aged. In 2010, 15%


older. By 2026, this

up of baby boomers who

ed and well-off and will


The age group just

, at an age of between 65

e expectancy is an

Low relevance

nerally healthy, has a high

s who make use of a

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

al care to institutionalised

tive ways to occupy time

mer generation. As a

be the most important


2026.

Recreation, extended learning and attractive ways to occupy time are of great importance
to the baby-boomer generation. As a result, the baby-boomer generation will be the most
important market segment for service providers in 2026.
Population aging plays the lead role in all relevant trends. All accepted sources assume an increase in
Position

average life expectancy, no increase in migration, and a declining birth rate. Via both empirical

Position
evidence
and models, increased population aging in the Netherlands (and neighbouring countries) has
46

Population
ageing asplays
theoffers
leadsignificant
role in and
all promising
relevant prospects
trends.for
Alltheaccepted
sources
been
clearly established
fact. This
museum sector.

assume
an increase in average life expectancy, no increase in migration, and a declining birth rate.
Via both empirical evidence and models, increased population ageing in the Netherlands
(and neighbouring countries) has been clearly established as fact. This offers significant and
promising prospects for the museum sector.
Effects
However, it cannot be assumed that this target group will naturally gravitate towards
museums. Their tastes and preferences make them a discerning target audience, and the
leisure market is becoming increasingly multifaceted. As a result of this, it is far from
guaranteed that visits to museums will be included on this groups to-do list. The market is
increasingly becoming a displacement market, in which museums are constantly having to
defend their competitive position in relation to other providers of information, knowledge,
experiences and relaxation. An attractive range of exhibits is equally as important as optimal
facilities. Accessibility, parking facilities and the museums bar, restaurant and shop are just as
important to the positioning of the museum as the exhibitions, presentations and collections.

In addition to the greater visitor potential, the baby-boomer target group also offers a
potentially larger group of museum supporters by way of volunteers, museum friends or
donors of money or relevant objects. All museums can benefit from reinforcement and
professionalisation of museum-friend policy (relationship marketing). Recruitment of
volunteers and/or supporters seems to be primarily beneficial to museums with specific
content (special-interest/themed museums) or regional bonds, i.e. small and medium-sized
museums.
The effects on collection policy are more difficult to predict. A proportion of the museum
exhibits relate to eras that the baby-boomer generation experienced either first-hand or via
their parents. Examples of such historical topics include the Second World War, the end of
the colonial age, the rise of the welfare state, technological development, automation and
mobility, depillarisation and secularisation. This generation spans the divide between living
memory and history. They are also the last generation of people who both possess such items
and can give first-hand accounts of their usage, making them interesting suppliers of wisdom
and objects. This may influence collection policy and help to rekindle interest in these 20thcentury objects (capitalising on the nostalgia of the baby boomers).
However, the development of collections targeting the baby boomers may have drawbacks for
museums and heritage centres. For example, it can result in excessively one-sided marketing
and product development, which in turn can lead to a disproportionately large number
of visitors from that particular target group. This can affect the image of the museum and
reinforce the belief that museums are for older people. This can discourage the middle age
group (35-65 years) from visiting museums and completely alienate the younger generation
(35 and under). It is therefore important to invest in the younger target group and the visitors
who will follow the baby boomers. Another possible downside is that museums are beginning
to resemble each other more and more with regard to both their content and the services
provided. Museums must avoid going the same way as European shopping areas, with more
or less the same shops and the same products on offer wherever you go. This makes the cities
less unique and results in uniformity and monotony.
2. Growth of international cultural tourism
Trend
In 2009, a total of 10 million tourists visited the Netherlands. By 2020, this figure will be
in excess of 14 million. The number of incoming European tourists will have risen from 8.1
million in 2009 to 11.4 million in 2020. A significant proportion of this growth will arise
from the increased global population ageing and the corresponding change in consumption
patterns. The fastest growing group of incoming non-European tourists consists of Asian
tourists. This group, despite the often-high expectations in connection with the Chinese,
who are particularly fond of travelling, accounts for a relatively modest 8%.

roundtable

A growing target group with a large amount of time, money and interest in cultural and
museological activities will generate a great degree of potential for the museum sector. Small,
medium and large museums will all benefit from this trend.

47

roundtable

Low predictability

al tourism

million. The number of

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

ited the Netherlands. By

High predictability

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

sen from 8.1 million in

ant proportion of this

bal population aging and

on patterns. The fastest

articularly fond of

est 8%.

Low relevance

an tourists consists of

ften-high expectations in

may seem quite modest,

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

umber of museum visits

r in attracting tourists to

sses a wide range of

attractions, offering a

a. In 2009, 41% of

g their stay and 50%

e. 11% of visitors

ere the main reason for

48

Although a growth of 4 million tourists may seem quite modest, it can lead to substantial
growth in the number of museum visits per year. After all, culture is a key factor in attracting
tourists to the Netherlands. The Netherlands possesses a wide range of high-quality cultural
The general assumption is that the number of incoming tourists is set to increase. The predictability in
andmid-to-long-term
museologicalis attractions,
offeringseems
a great
of diversity
within
a small
area. In 2009,
the
also high. The relevance
to bedeal
the highest
for the major
museums
in the
41% of foreign
a international
museum during
their
stay and
50%
visited
a landmark and/
Randstad
area. As atourists
result, thevisited
growth of
tourism is
significantly
lower
on the
relevance
or
a
historical
site.
11%
of
visitors
indicated
that
these
cultural
activities
were
the main reason
axis than factors such as retirement of the baby boomers and fewer subsidies.
for them visiting the Netherlands.
Position

Position
The general assumption is that the number of incoming tourists is set to increase. The
predictability in the mid-to-long-term is also high. The relevance seems to be the highest for
the major museums in the Randstad area. As a result, the growth of international tourism is
significantly lower on the relevance axis than factors such as retirement of the baby boomers
and fewer subsidies.
Effects
In the product-market combinations developed by the tourism industry and the NBTC
(Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions), culture and heritage are important factors
in positioning and profiling our country. The flagship museums in the Randstad megaregion
benefit the most from the growing number of incoming tourists. Amsterdam is a major
tourist destination for both European and international tourists. Tourists use Amsterdam as
a base of operations, with many starting or finishing their visit there. Outside Amsterdam
and the Randstad, this development will be most beneficial to museums in border regions

As part of local and regional cultural-historic chains, small and medium-sized museums
in the border regions will probably benefit from the baby boomers from neighbouring
countries. Members of this target group frequently take short city trips and mini-breaks. A
proportion of these tourists are less interested in visiting tourist areas that they have already
visited during previous visits, and are looking for more appealing, specific and in-depth
experiences in order to really get a taste for the particular region they are visiting.
3. Cuts in subsidies
Trend
The national debt caused by the credit crunch and the budget deficit caused by the economic
crisis have compelled the government to make unprecedented structural cuts in expenditure.
It is expected that these cuts, which will be implemented between now and 2015, will be
felt at all levels of government, including the budgets of central, provincial and municipal
government.
The pressure on the government to make cuts will continue to increase even after 2015. This
will be due to the need for disciplined budgeting in order to facilitate the further economic
integration of the Eurozone. The ageing population will also be a major factor, because the
growth in the number of senior citizens and rising life expectancy will place major demands
on the care sector. At the same time, investment in education must continue in order to
maintain the position of the Netherlands on the world stage. These payments cannot be
financed by extra taxation. Due to pressure on wages and increased pension demands resulting
from population ageing and the shrinking and ageing labour market, economic growth is
currently in a fragile state. In a nutshell, governments will have to be extremely stringent and
they will be increasingly obliged to demonstrate the legitimacy of their financial transactions.
There is no reason to believe that the culture or heritage sectors will be spared from these
cuts. A recent survey showed that the average inhabitant of the Netherlands believes that cuts
could be made in the area of culture and the arts. Museums can choose to defend against
cuts by emphasising the value of museums to the economy (via tourism) and education.
Furthermore, museums may increasingly play a role in the care sector. For example, museums
can serve as a venue for day trips. However, on the other hand, the potential extra earnings
that population ageing generates for the museum sector can be used as an argument for
increasing cuts.
Position
The governments austerity measures will have a major effect on the sector and they are
therefore high in relevance. Predictability in the short to mid-term is high, although there
is uncertainty in the long-term. The course of this trend is dependent on the state of the
economy, which makes it less predictable than the respective demographic and the globally

roundtable

and museums whose image and exhibits are particularly specific to or representative of the
Netherlands. Other museums will not benefit significantly from this trend as they are much
less able to make use of the Randstad regions gravitas.

49

ve compelled the

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

roundtable

runch and the budget

Low predictability

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

ctural cuts in expendi-

h will be implemented

l levels of government,

e cuts will continue to

ue to the need for

te the further economic

population will also be a

Low relevance

cial and municipal

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

number of senior citizens

jor demands on the care

education must continue

Netherlands on the world

There is no reason to believe that the culture or heritage sectors will be spared from these cuts. A

and aging labour

prominent retirement of baby boomers and growth of international culture-tourism trends.


The political climate, which by definition is temporary, is of equal importance to the
in the area of culture and the arts. Museums can choose to defend against cuts by emphasising the
predictability of this trend.
value of museums to the economy (via tourism) and education. Furthermore, museums may increas-

a fragile state. In a

ingly play a role in the care sector. For example, museums can serve as a venue for day trips.

ed by extra taxation. Due

sion demands resulting

xtremely stringent and

50
onstrate the legitimacy
of

recent survey showed that the average inhabitant of the Netherlands believes that cuts could be made

Effectson the other hand, the potential extra earnings that population aging generates for the
However,

The pressure
onbestate
mayfor
well
provoke
discussion of the governments role regarding
museum
sector can
usedfinances
as an argument
increasing
cuts.
museums. A variety of outcomes are possible:
1) When cuts need to be made, then the government often uses decentralisation. Central
government delegates tasks to provinces or municipalities, usually following efficiency
measures. The consequence to the museum sector is that government subsidies and national
art collections will become decentralised. Task switching is also a possibility. In such cases,
national museums and national art collections become the responsibility of provinces/
municipalities and vice versa.
2) In extreme circumstances, the government may even completely withdraw support for
museums and collections, leaving the museums with full responsibility for their collections,
buildings and capital, as is the case in the United States of America.
3) Finally, the government may choose to partially fund museums and also to lower income,
wealth and corporation tax in order to enable greater contributions to museums from
individuals and businesses. If this trend continues, it will result in permanent economising
of the museum sector, with possible contraction as a consequence. This can affect the size,
scale and number of museums. Institutions that are best able to justify their right to exist and
have greater public support will have the best chance of surviving government cuts. This will
primarily include the large, established museums with a strong brand and market position,

Whatever happens, the collection policy will be more carefully thought out, giving attention
to collections with a national context. The need to harmonise acquisition and possible
relocations of collections/parts of collections with the Collection Netherlands (Netherlands
Cultural Heritage Agency) goes without saying. Alternative sources of financing and
alternative acquisition constructions (shared ownership, buying out of successions duties,
Public-Private Cooperation constructions etc.) will increase in importance, as will new
income-generating concepts, such as rental/sale of parts of collections, profitable services
and knowledge marketing. Larger institutions or clusters of institutions can offer specialist
knowledge and specific back-office tasks to third parties (museums and other parties), such
as collection management and conservation.
4. Development of the Randstad metropolitan area
Trend
The Randstad region will continue to grow in the coming decades, while rural areas will
shrink. By 2025, there will be eight million households in the Netherlands, 800,000 more
than at the start of 2007. The number of households will undergo particularly significant
growth in the north-east of the Randstad area. 240,000 extra households will be created in
Almere, the Greater Amsterdam region and the province of Utrecht. The south-west of the
Randstad will develop less rapidly. The regions of Groot-Rijnmond and the agglomeration
of The Hague will both grow by around 40,000 households. Noord-Brabant and Gelderland
will also experience growth, but the areas of East Groningen and South Limburg will shrink.
In 2026, will the Randstad be one unbroken metropolitan area with a single consolidated and
sophisticated infrastructure, or will it have broken up into a North Wing and a South Wing?
Whatever happens, there will probably be some type of administrative integration that will
manage the growing demand for space and boost the economic position of the region in
relation to other increasingly competitive European megaregions.
The situation in the Randstad also applies to a lesser extent in other urban agglomerations
such as Brabantstad, Arnhem-Nijmegen, Parkstad Limburg and Netwerkstad Twente.
Position
The position of the development with regard to relevance and predictability is somewhat
diffused. It is likely that the Randstad area will develop in line with the trend described earlier
and that this will have an effect on the cultural and museological sector. However, what these
effects will be is more difficult to predict.

roundtable

and smaller museums with strong basis of support who can fall back on private donations
and volunteers. We expect the broad, medium-sized museums and regional museums to
bear the largest brunt of the reduction in subsidies. They often have a relatively high cost
structure, a broad yet unspecific profile and a single main subsidiser. In order to compensate
for the reduced government funding, museums will have to maximise their income.

51

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

roundtable

ow in the coming

Low predictability

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

y 2025, there will be

nds, 800,000 more than

eholds will undergo

rth-east of the Randstad

less rapidly. The regions

on of The Hague will

. Noord-Brabant and

Low relevance

reated in Almere, the

ince of Utrecht. The

but the areas of East

nk.

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

ken metropolitan area

ated infrastructure, or will

d a South Wing?

be some type of

age the growing demand

on of the region in

e European megaregions.

52

es to a lesser extent in

bantstad, Arnhem-Ni-

stad Twente.

Effects
The development of the Randstad metropolitan area has two contradictory effects on
museums in this region. One effect is that due to the importance of cultural facilities in
The position of the development with regard to relevance and predictability is somewhat diffused. It is
ensuring
a Randstad
pleasantarea
living
environment,
growth
of the
region
willthisincrease
likely
that the
will develop
in line withthe
the trend
described
earlier
and that
will have the number
of effect
suchonfacilities.
the However,
competitive
struggle
European regions,
an
the culturalFurthermore,
and museologicalin
sector.
what these
effectsagainst
will be isother
more difficult
high-quality
cultural
facilities
serve
as
a
significant
image-booster.
It
reinforces
the businessto predict.
development climate and attracts foreign tourists. For this reason, art and culture are
included in the Randstad Urgent programme, which is being carried out by the government
and the four major Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague). The other
effect is that administrative integration can result in more critical and rational assessment of
the cultural inventory, i.e. what can be joined together, what can be cut back on, what will
contribute most to the success of this region etc. If the identity of the city is slowly becoming
superseded by the identity of the region, would it be better to display the local history by
means of several city museums or a single regional museum? The new Ruhr Museum in Essen
is an example of this development.
Position

Although it will not particularly escalate in the period up to 2026, this discussion may
come up and influence policy-making decisions. In shrinking regions, cultural facilities
may decline. Independent cultural institutions will close down if the population of the
area declines beneath a critical minimum value. It is possible that as a result of mergers,
clusters of cultural institutions will arise. This may result in new platforms for crossovers
between performing arts, sculpture, heritage, education and provision of information. In
the shrinking areas, this may provoke a counter-movement in which local communities

The effects on museums in the Randstad are clearer than for museums outside this region.
A limited number of museums within the Randstad will achieve or consolidate their status
as an international flagship museum. A smaller number of museums will even be recognised
as part of the International Super League of Museums. These museums will attract a large
proportion of the total visitor numbers and income from subsidies and sponsorships. In
short, strengthening of the Randstad results in strengthening of the major museums in
the Randstad. The effect on medium-sized and small museums is less clear. The effects
on museums outside the Randstad area is uncertain. Here too, the best survival chances
are enjoyed by special-interest museums, museums with specific content, themes or media
strategies who position themselves clearly and conspicuously, or museums that can fall back
on the support of their local community.
5. Digitised society
Trend
By 2026, we will be living in a digital society. Knowledge development, information storage,
education and entertainment will be fully digitised and integrated. The users and managers
of knowledge and information will make extremely flexible use of these new methods: formal
and informal systems/platforms will reinforce each other and cross-media applications will
be widely available. The blurring of the classic divide between knowledge managers and
knowledge users (which the 2.0 mindset has already somewhat dispelled) will result in
new forms of co-makership. Users of new media are not bound by time or location, and
the divide between the real world and the virtual world will have been greatly blurred by
developments such as augmented reality. The worldwide availability and accessibility of
the internet will offer practically unlimited opportunities to share knowledge and content.
This will result in new virtual productions and exhibitions with new forms of ownership,
copyright, authenticity, public outreach and income.
Up to now, new media has played more of a supporting role (as representatives of and
pointers towards the real thing). In the future, new media will increasingly take over the role
of old media, although the old guard will not be completely pushed off the stage.
To future, digital-born generations, the almost completely digitised knowledge and
information sector will be completely natural. Anybody who wants to survive in this
environment will have to position him/herself digitally and virtually. Traceability and
recognisability will be key to positioning.

roundtable

come together to protect local or regional cultural heritage. It is possible that this countermovement will result in an increase in the growth and appreciation of specific local and
regional quality. Positioning based on regional nature and culture can reinforce an areas
reputation as a destination for day trips and short domestic holidays. In order to reinforce
the position of regional museums, the museums themselves can develop initiatives aimed
at generating more critical mass. Examples of such initiatives include collaborative ventures
and mergers.

53

education and

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

roundtable

ociety. Knowl-

Low predictability

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

integrated. The

nformation will

w methods:

will reinforce

ers (which the 2.0

) will result in

w media are not

e between the

Low relevance

will be widely

ide between

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

ve been greatly

nted reality. The


of the internet

ities to share

in new virtual

rms of owner-

each and income.

of a supporting

54
owards the real

reasingly take

old guard will

Position
It is evident that this trend will be of great relevance to the museological sector. Traditional
To future, digital-born generations, the almost completely digitised knowledge and information sector
museums almost perfectly represent the concept of old media. The museums building
will be completely natural. Anybody who wants to survive in this environment will have to position
renders itdigitally
location-bound
and the collections
contain
and unique exhibits. This
him/herself
and virtually. Traceability
and recognisability
will authentic
be key to positioning.
makes museums almost the polar opposite of new media, in which location and authenticity
do not play a part. Due to the rapid developments in new media, which directly affect the
value of museums, processes and products, digitisation rates highly on the relevance axis.
However, the large degree of uncertainty regarding the extent to which and the direction in
which new media will develop, in addition to whether or not they will supplant old media,
means that digitisation has a relatively low predictability score.
Effects
In addition to their role as real-time institutions, museums will also be able to profile
themselves in the digital domain with the same exhibits but a new, interactive product
range. This means that employees and resources that are now primarily used for product
development in time and location-bound presentations/productions will have to be spread
across new product combinations. When calculating the effectiveness and efficiency of the
deployment of employees and resources, much more attention will be given to the reach and
the effect of new media. This implies that new performance agreements and indicators will
have to be developed.
The digitisation and connection of the collections will require advanced standardisation of
systems. The market-dependence of external facilitators will therefore be further increased.

6. Greater European influence


Trend
Despite the fact that support for the European Union is declining in the Netherlands, and
despite the recent financial turmoil in the Eurozone, it is a fact that the EU will play an
increasingly major role in setting the agenda. For the time being, the number of regulations
from Brussels will increase. This will by definition limit the policy-making freedom of
member states in practically all policy domains. Currently procurement procedures and
regulations are already determined by Brussels. No doubt, other areas will follow and be
increasingly set at a European level in the future.
Although the EU traditionally focuses on economic matters, attention is also paid to culture
and regional identity. However, the specific policy instrumentation is somewhat intentional
and quite soft for all but a few of these treaties. The EU wants to maintain and encourage
diversity and help make all forms of cultural expression accessible to all. This objective is
recorded in the Maastricht Treaty (1992). In addition to subsidies for regional development,
the EU also has a modest range of policy instruments in the field of culture and heritage.
Objectives include presenting and protecting European cultural heritage, encouraging the
international mobility of professionals in the cultural sector, promoting the international
movement of works of art and cultural projects, and stimulating intercultural dialogue. In
addition to this, the EU also runs the European Capital of Culture programme. Finally, the
Malta Treaty is of importance to archaeological museums.
Position
How the EU will develop over the next few decades is relatively unpredictable. For a long
time, continuation of the current EU community seemed to be most likely. However, the
recent crisis regarding the euro has forced further integration of economic politics, resulting
in a reduction in the autonomy of member states. If federal forces within the EU bring about
a change of course, then the direct influence of the EU will certainly increase. However, the
degree to which this influence will increase is currently difficult to determine. For this reason,
the issue of Greater European influence is lowest on the graph.

roundtable

The new digital media create a permanent demand for content. Museums and other heritage
institutions manage content that will be intriguing to the younger generations, such as
analogue, authentic and unique collections. By 2026, all of the collections of the large
and medium-sized museums will have been digitised and made available via the internet.
Digitisation and new media will increasingly dominate the agendas of small, medium-sized
and large museums. The flexibility described earlier enables the systems and hardware to be
deployed at all levels. The new opportunities result in new processes that must be developed
and implemented in museological organisations. Expertise, competencies, systems and
resources will be needed to do this. This will require each institution to be of a certain scale.
Smaller institutions will lack the competencies and financial resources to continually innovate
in this area, meaning that large and medium-sized museums will be the main beneficiaries
of the digitisation drive. Digital developments have come on in leaps and bounds over the
past decade and look set to continue at the same pace in the future.

55

education and

High predictability

GREATER
EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

RETIREMENT OF
BABY BOOMERS

CUTS
IN SUBSIDIES

DIGITISED
SOCIETY

High relevance

roundtable

ociety. Knowl-

Low predictability

DEVELOPMENT
OF THE RANDSTAD
METROPOLITAN AREA

GROWTH OF INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL TOURISM

integrated. The

nformation will

w methods:

will reinforce

ers (which the 2.0

) will result in

w media are not

e between the

Low relevance

will be widely

ide between

NEW CLASS OF
CONTINUAL MIGRANTS

RESIDENCE, WORK,
QUALITY OF LIFE,
INTEGRATION

WATER
LIMITED
SPACE

MICROPRODUCTION
OF
GOODS AND FOOD

TIGHT
LABOUR MARKET

BLURRING OF
INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

ve been greatly

nted reality. The


of the internet

ities to share

in new virtual

rms of owner-

each and income.

of a supporting

56
owards the real

reasingly take

old guard will

Effects
Although the Lisbon Strategy (2000) - which aimed to make Europe the most innovative
To future, digital-born generations, the almost completely digitised knowledge and information sector
knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010 - was unsuccessful, it was certainly not
will be completely natural. Anybody who wants to survive in this environment will have to position
abandoned.
As part
of thisTraceability
plan, theand
EU
sought to will
digitise
heritage in connection
him/herself
digitally
and virtually.
recognisability
be keycultural
to positioning.
with the emphasis of Europes rich cultural history as a unique selling point. Examples of
such activities include the European database and the introduction of a European heritage
standard. It is conceivable that this policy development will be continued within the next 15
years. Depending on the direction in which the EU develops, we may see the development
of supranational museums. However, this would be more feasible in a federal Europe than
in the current community-based Europe. These museums would be large, newly developed
museums with particularly international themes in the field of society, history, art and
science, viewed from a European perspective.
A more psychological effect of the European integration is manifest by the previously
mentioned cultural dimension of the European debate. In addition, maintenance and
reinforcement of classical regional/national identities and heritage goes hand-in-hand with
the creation of new forms of identity. Museums and other heritage institutions will play an
important part in this debate.
7. The Dutch museum sector in 2026
In this chapter, the trends illustrated earlier will be tested with regard to their effect on
the Dutch museum sector. The effect on the following six possible factors are investigated
for small, medium-sized and large museums: number of museums, number of exhibitions,

7. The Dutch museum sector in 2026


In this chapter, the trends illustrated earlier will be tested with
regard to their effect on the Dutch museum sector. The effect on
the following six possible factors are investigated for small,
medium-sized and large museums: number of museums, number
of exhibitions, diversity of the exhibitions, budgets of the

Large museums
#
Retirement of
baby boomers
Growth of international
cultural tourism
Reduction in subsidies
Development
of the Randstad
metropolitan area
Digitised society
Greater European
influence

T D

B &

Medium-sized museums
#

T D

B &

Small museums
#

T D

B &

Total sector
#

T D

B &
#

Number of museums

Number of exhibitions

Diversity of exhibitions

Budget per museum

Visitor numbers per museum

&

Diversity of visitors (according to age)

an extremely positive effect is expected


a clearly visible positive effect is expected
no exact estimate can be made
a moderately significant effect is expected
a negative effect is expected

Sum

an extremely negative effect is expected

diversity of the exhibitions, budgets of the institutions, number of visitors and diversity/age
of the visitors.
16

Large museums
The number of large museums will remain virtually unchanged. Although the economising
government may try to cut the number of museums, the pulling power of the Randstad
may well provide a reason to maintain the number of museums. A transfer of functions
and tasks within/between the government and/or museums may lead to a more effective
structure, but it is unlikely to have an effect on the number of museums. It is possible that
new configurations of museums (possibly in combination with other heritage institutions)
will be created in order to boost their position. This will involve medium-sized museums
expanding to become large museums.
Income generation will become a more important priority in the running of museums in
order to supplement shrinking government subsidies. The retirement of the baby boomers
in our country and neighbouring countries will lead to an increased demand for exhibitions
with a higher turnover ratio. This will require the museums to be more dynamic in their
organisation and to ensure high mobility of collections. EU policy will facilitate this. It
is possible that exhibitions and the larger European museums will start to resemble each
other as they all seek to take advantage of the same growth market (senior cultural tourists).
This may harm the diversity of the audience. By means of far-reaching integration into
the digital domain, museums can address other target groups, and in particular, the
digital-born generation. The increasing demand for justification of government support
for museums will focus attention on specific programmes that support education, care and
other social matters.
Medium-sized museums
The number of medium-sized museums is likely to decline. It is expected that the most
dynamism will be evident in museums of this scale. The pressure on medium-sized museums
to grow in order to participate in the growing domestic and international culture-tourism
sector will result in a new wave of redevelopment and modernisation. Such developments are
particularly expected in urban agglomerations such as the Randstad. The risk of uniformity
remains, due to the focus on the baby-boomer generation. For these museums, investment in
digitisation will be relatively expensive, which will make it more difficult for them to develop

roundtable

institutions, number of visitors and diversity/age of the visitors.

57

roundtable
58

a solid, unique and recognisable position with regard to digital media, which in turn hampers
their ability to reach the digital-born generations.
Not all medium-sized museums will be capable of taking this step forward. As mentioned
earlier, expansion by means of mergers may be an option to some of these museums. Others
may wish to further specialise themselves or develop new specialisms. Reinforcement of
the museums connection to the city or region in which it is located is another effective
and frequently used strategy. These museums can also gain a great deal of legitimacy by
establishing education as a core activity. The more important the legitimacy issue becomes,
the more medium-sized museums will be forced to make difficult decisions. It is therefore
not unthinkable that a number of medium-sized museums will close.
Small-scale museums
The number of small-scale museums is likely to decline. This category of museums are facing
a very tough time indeed. Only the strongest museums with distinctive profiles, products
and a strong basis of support will survive. These museums are under pressure on all fronts.
Although the retirement of the baby-boomer generation will benefit these museums with
regard to the number of visitors, volunteers and museum friends, they are less likely to be
capable of adapting to the developments in the museum sector and hence less able to keep
the public satisfied. Due to limited resources, digitisation is not always an option for these
museums. They are also less able to implement new technology.
Small-scale museums will have to choose whether to profile themselves as authentic, oldfashioned museums or as exciting contemporary museums. Any attempts to combine these
two profiles are unlikely to succeed. Smaller museums must take full advantage of social
networks and communities, establishing a clear profile that reinforces and fuels a feeling of
collective ownership.
Sector (summary)
The overall situation in 2026 will be a sector with an expanded range of large, mainly
Randstad-based museums with a much greater degree of relevance to the international
positioning of the region, the country, and even Europe. On the other hand, the small-scale
segment of the museum sector will have been trimmed down, and will consist exclusively
of the stronger museums with either an authentic, old-fashioned profile or an exciting,
contemporary profile.
However, the medium-sized museums will have undergone the most far-reaching
development. In this segment, roles will have been transferred, mergers will have been
conducted and a number of museums will have closed. This segment will decline in number,
but increase in importance.

www.cbs.nl
Sustainable Energy in the Netherlands 2008, report by Statistics Netherlands covering the
period 1998-2008.
Clicking: 16 Trends to Future Fit Your Life, Your Work and Your Business, Faith Popcorn
and Lys Marigold, London, 1996.
Collections for the Future: Report of an Inquiry by the Museums Association, Museums
Association, London, 2005.
Cultuur tussen competentie en competitie: contouren van het cultuurbereik in 2030
(Culture Between Competency and Competition: Contours of Cultural Reach in 2030),
Van den Broek, A. and De Haan, J., Amsterdam, 2000.
Destinatie Holland 2020; toekomstvisie inkomend toerisme (Destination Holland 2020:
Visions of the Incoming Tourists of the Future), NBTC, Assendelft, 2008.
Ontwikkelingen in belangstelling voor musea: de cultuurparticipatie van de Nederlandse
bevolking in de periode 1950 tot 2005 toegespitst op musea nader onderzocht
(Developments in the Importance of Museums: closer examination of the cultural
participation, particularly focused on museums, of the population of the Netherlands in
the period 1950-2005).
Wegerif, A., Masters Thesis at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of History and Arts,
Rotterdam, 2008.
www.extendlimits.nl
www.europa-nu.nl
Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures, Centre for the Future of
Museums, American Association of Museums, December 2008.
Museums in a Troubled World: Renewal, Irrelevance or Collapse?, Robert R. Janes,
New York, 2009.
www.nbtc.nl
New Visions for Museums in the 21st Century, Victor T.C. Middelton, London, 1998.
Museum Sector Analysis, Council for Culture, The Hague, 2003.
Sustainability and Museums: Your Chance to Make a Difference (discussion paper),
Museums Association, London, 2008.
Sustainability and Museums: Report on Consultation, (report of reactions to the
discussion paper) Museums Association, London, 2009.
Understanding the Future: Museums and 21th Century Life, Department for Culture,
Media and Sport, Museums and Cultural Property Division, London.
www.zilverenkracht.nl

roundtable

Sources:

59

Critical Trends Emerging for Museums of the Future


62

Practical Futurism: The Value of Culture and Key Cultural Trends of the Future
Professor Sara Selwood, Independent Cultural Analyst and Consultant,
Visiting Professor of Cultural Policy and Management, City University, London

78

The Challenges Facing Curators in the Museum of Tomorrow


Dr. Adriaan Waiboer, Curator of Northern European Art,
National Gallery of Ireland

84 Are Museums Maximizing the Potential of Digital Media?



Hugh Wallace, Head of Digital Media,

National Museums, Scotland
Critical Planning Issues for Museums
89

The Future of Science Museums: Ten Shifts Shaping our Cultural Institutions
Dr. Michael John Gorman,
Director, The Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin

94

How Museums Address the Changing Demographics of 21st-Century Audiences


Professor Henrik Zipsane, Director, Jamtli Foundation and
Professor at Linkoping University, Ostersund, Sweden

103 How will Small Museums and Galleries Survive the Changing Environment

Fiona Kearney, Director, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork
106 Creating Profitable, Efficient Services and Revenue Streams Online and at
Point of Sale

Martin Barden, Head of Membership and Ticketing, Tate
111

A Resetting, not just a Recession


Professor Declan McGonagle, Director, National College of Art and Design

112

Symposium Chairpersons and Panel discussion participants

113 Acknowledgements
115

Photographic Credits

SYMPOSIUM

Future Forecasting: The Challenges Facing Museums


and Cultural Institutions 2011
Contents

SYMPOSIUM

Practical Futurism:
The Value of Culture and Key Cultural Trends of the Future

62

Professor Sara Selwood


Independent Cultural Analyst and Consultant,
Visiting Professor of Cultural Policy and Management, City University, London
Introduction
The future of museums is currently much discussed - partly as a result of the advent of the
new century, partly because of the increasing realities of the global recession.
Contributors to the debate range from lone bloggers to major agencies1. Some locate
museums within a context of future studies and foresight planning, and look 10-15 years, or
even project 20-80 years ahead2. Others are more myopic and more messianic - often driven
by political, ethical or emotional imperatives. But, whatever their perspective, the thinking of
those participating in the debates about the museum of the future tends to touch on a fairly
consistent set of concerns: demographic trends; the consequences of unemployment; the
nature of the changing geopolitical and economic landscapes; developments in technology
and communications; the rise of so-called new cultural expectations, and the need for greater
organisational effectiveness (see for example, Chung et al, 2008). Bourke (2011) suggests that
museums in Ireland are facing many of the same issues.
According to the Museum Associations comprehensive survey of how recent cuts in public
spending had impacted on UK museums between April 2010 and May/June 2011, the
recession had already led to closures. They found that nearly a quarter of museums had
reduced their opening hours; a third had reduced the number of programmes they could
run, and over half were cutting staff. The kind of employees being targeted were primarily
front-line staff, who work directly with
audiences and collections in education
and visitor services (Newman & Tourle,
2011).

Family of Man exhibition catalogue cover

One interpretation suggests that this


situation could represent a positive
opportunity for change: We are on the
brink of a revolutionary moment if we
use the recession to rethink what business
we are in, how much impact we have
and the multiple futures we might have
(Lees, 2009). Another interpretation
proposes that a culture of nurturing
and organisational change would help
museums project where their current
courses may lead, think about where they
actually want to go and anticipate the
forces that may throw them off track
(Farrell & Medvedeva, 2010: 5).

This paper explores these questions by reflecting on aspects of museum experiences now and
in the recent past, and it speculates on how those might be best harnessed for tomorrow. Its
main focus is English museums - those funded by the Department for Culture, Media and
Sport (DCMS) in particular. It covers the national collections and the regional museums,
which DCMS has funded indirectly since 2002.
Part 1. Yesterday
Before winning the 1997 election, Labour described the cultural sector as being of fundamental
importance to the incoming government. It attributed it with the capacity to promote our
sense of common purpose and to re-establish a sense of community, of identity and of
civic pride, the undermining of which has so damaged our society (Labour Party, 1997: 9).
Despite being funded by government, cultural organisations had always operated at arms
length from it - and been outside the immediate concerns of politics. They functioned in
what was, effectively a policy vacuum. At best, government departments responsible for
financing the sector reviewed current provision, sought to improve the management of their
advisory and funding bodies, and promoted examples of best practice.
But, all that changed when New Labour established the Department for Culture, Media and
Sport. It strategically reclaimed responsibility for cultural policy and issued an unprecedented
number of policy directives. These were closely linked to governments policies in general,
and - as such remained largely consistent throughout Labours 13 years in government. The
Department was not only explicit about delivering on government objectives, which included
access for the many not just the few; pursuing excellence and innovation; nurturing
educational opportunity, and realising its sectors economic benefits (DCMS, 1998a; 1998b).
In pursuing those, it focused on the supposed, instrumental effects of cultural provision, and
it implicitly assumed that increased public investment would produce particular outcomes.
Alongside New Labours steady increases in public spending, support for the cultural sector
rose exponentially. DCMSs annual reports suggest that between 1998-2010, the departments
funding of its sectors rose by 98%. Support for museums increased by around 95%. At
the same time, museums were also benefitting from billions of pounds from the National
Lottery. Since 1994, museum and gallery projects have benefitted from 1.42bn from the
Heritage Lottery Fund alone3 (see Figure 1).
It was, perhaps, hardly surprising that in his valedictory speech at Tate Modern in March
2007, Tony Blair claimed to have created a Golden Age for the arts and pointed to the
massive programme of refurbishments, new museums, and substantial increases in visitor
numbers generated under his government.

SYMPOSIUM

This paper proposes asking some fundamental questions about museums: What difference
museums make, and to whom and how might they make more of a difference? Such enquiries
are not only central to both the propositions described, but to the debate about the future
of museums more generally.

63

SYMPOSIUM

Arguments about the extent to which New Labour did indeed facilitate a Golden Age are
beyond the scope of this paper4. But, it is worth noting that, in practice, DCMSs increases
to its sponsored bodies explicitly bound them to delivering government policy. Since the
government believed that no one should be denied access to the treasures held by national
museums simply because they could not afford the admission fee, one of the main objectives
of free access was to bring the national collections within the reach of a wider audience (HoC,
2002: para 51). Museums were also expected to provide an essential platform for learning for
all and lifelong learning. Since they accounted for about a third of DCMSs spending on the
arts, culture and heritage, it is reasonable to deduce that they were perceived as responsible
for the Departments outcomes, in some large part.
DCMSs sponsored museums agreed to targets, which were specified through a series of
linked agreements that cascaded down from the Treasury. These set out the organisations
anticipated outputs and outcomes against investment. The museums also found themselves
subject to unprecedented levels of scrutiny and accountability.
Free admission to DCMS-sponsored museums was, perhaps, the most iconic representation
of New Labours commitment to increased access. Its targets were ambiguous, but were
generally taken to be aimed at those whom the House of Commons Select Committee
referred to as new visitors from the widest range of socio-economic and ethnic groups
(Hoc, 2002: Para 60). Three priority groups - disabled people, Black and Minority Ethnic
(BME) communities and lower socio-economic groups - all of whom engaged less than
average in subsidised culture, tended to be DCMSs main targets.

64

Figure 1: Funding For Museums, 1997/8 2009/10

Part 2. Today
In stark contrast to New Labour, the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat Coalition has issued
very few announcements on cultural policy. Its main focus remains the national debt. DCMS
funding to museums has been cut by 15% up to 2014/15 (Hunt, 2010). Local authorities
income is being reduced by 26% over four years (Department for Communities and Local
Government, 2010), and since local government support of museums is non-statutory, the
sector is particularly vulnerable. The Museum Associations survey found that one-fifth of
museums were being cut by over 25% (Newman & Tourle, 2011). Museums are also affected
by declining support from charitable foundations and corporate sponsorship, which has been
falling off since 2007/8 (A&B, 2011). Even if financial services can afford to sponsor cultural
activities, they cant afford to be seen to.
For its part, DCMS sought to save money by abolishing a number of quangos - arguably
targeting New Labour initiatives. These included the Museums, Libraries & Archives
Council. It is cutting its own administrative costs - losing 50% of its own staff (Vaizey,
2010). Like previous Conservative administrations, the Coalition wants to reduce cultural
organisations dependency on government funding.
Any proposed increases to the sector have to come from other sources. The Department
proposes to increase Lottery funding after the Olympics - although this is already increasing
as a result of increased sales of lottery tickets (DCMS, 2012). It plans to make philanthropic
giving as compelling as possible (DCMS, 2011b), and is calling on museums to be more
entrepreneurial.
While the relative absence of policy reflects a belief in allowing the market to determine what
happens, museums attempts to be more business-like, or to introduce organisational change
are handicapped by existing funding structures and regimes. The nationals, for example, are
being prevented from spending what is in their reserves. Because of governments accounting
methods, such spending scores against DCMSs expenditure budgets, with the risk of the
Department exceeding its expenditure limits for that year. This could potentially result in
the Departments accounts having to be qualified by the National Audit Office and the
Permanent Secretary having to appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.
Local authority museums have to contend with

SYMPOSIUM

A second major museums initiative was Renaissance in the Regions. This provided 300m
to regional museums, in particular those which had grown so impoverished that they were
unable to meet user expectations (RMTF, 2001: 10). Alongside New Labours own Local
Government reforms, Renaissance effectively brought regional museums within the remit of
national cultural policy. Through it, the government sought to transform these institutions
into an important resource and champion for learning and education; into focuses for their
local communities; places that would contribute to economic regeneration; into organisations
that acquired, cared for and interpreted collections and used them to encourage inspiration
and creativity, and that would ensure excellence and quality in the delivery of their core
services (RMTF, 2001: 21).

65

SYMPOSIUM
66

the restricted ability to trade, the central recharging, the lack of ability in some to even
control catering contracts plus over bureaucratic systems of pay, recruitment and procurement
make it impossible to change in any reasonable time frame. Finance controls on end of year
flexibility, use of reserves, cost of employment etc., have all created organisations with ever
increasing fixed costs and ever decreasing public service despite huge fundraising efforts. Add
to this traditional Performance Indicators who demand increased visitor numbers with no
understanding of quality or even viability (Lees, 2009).
Given such restrictions, museums standard default is, as ever, to trim operations. Over and
above that, several local authority museum services are seeking trust status, and are looking
to run joint services with their neighbours. Local authorities are closing museums for one
day a week, or more (if complete shut-downs are looming); they are cutting down on, or
beginning to charge for services which were previously free at the point of delivery. Some
councils appear to be mothballing entire museums.
On the basis of the current situation, it has been estimated that by 2020, about a quarter of
the 650 local authority museums in England will close, or merge with another organisation.
Some recently improved museums are only being saved from closure for the time being,
because of funders clawing back grants in the event of other museums closures5.
But, despite considerable differences, both New Labour and the Coalition have both run
up against a similar problem - namely, explaining and accounting for the value of culture.
Even after performance measurement had became standard, successive Secretaries of State
for Culture acknowledged its shortcomings. Former Secretaries of State for Culture have
revealed that the introduction of a target regime was a ploy to extract funding from Treasury
(Smith, 2003), and that it was, of course, necessary to go beyond targets to best capture
the value of culture (Jowell, 2004). DCMS eventually sought to address this under the
banner of excellence (MacMaster, 2008). Pilot peer reviews of three museums explored
ways of judging quality rather than measuring outputs (DCMS, 2009). But this initiative
coincided with the beginnings of the recession, was considered too expensive, and never got
off the ground.
Six months into office, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, charged the Office of National
Statistics to develop measures around well-being and life satisfaction to inform social and
economic policy in general. We will, he said, start measuring our progress as a country
not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by
our standard of living, but by our quality of life (Cameron, 2010).
To accompany peoples own assessment of their well being (individual or subjective
well-being), themes such as health, personal relationships, job satisfaction and
economic security emerged. These lend themselves to the development of these
domains or areas within which potentially a very large set of measures could be

Despite lobbying for the publics participation in culture to be acknowledged as contributing


to national well being, at the time of writing (February, 2012) it had not yet been included.
Nevertheless, one museum programme, in particular, is dedicated to the promotion of well
being. The Happy Museum is seeking to create a community of practice, committed to
supporting transition to a well-being, sustainable society as promoted by the Transition
Network6. This, however, requires reimagining the kinds of experience that museums provide
to their visitors, how they relate to their collections, to their communities and to the pressing
issues of the day (Thompson et al, 2011).
What, then, does this suggest about the value of culture and key cultural trends of the future?
Part 3. Tomorrow
Evidence suggests that the number of visits to DCMS-sponsored museums and Renaissancefunded museums is still growing. Since the introduction of universal free admission in
December 2001, visits to the formerly charging national museums in England have increased
by 151% (DCMS, 2011). However the rate of increase of visits to DCMS-sponsored museums
and those funded through the Renaissance programme is generally slowing down, as Figures
2 and 3 suggest:

SYMPOSIUM

chosen.The proposed measures range from life satisfaction to crime rate; satisfaction
with your spouse or partner to household wealth (ONS, 2012).

67

Figure 2

SYMPOSIUM
68

Figure 3: Visits To Renaissance Funded Museums

That trend is especially apparent amongst people from priority groups. Although the picture
is very different for each museum, despite continued free admission, the overall percentage
of visits by this group is declining (Figures 4 and 5).
Without the same level of investment, and without insistent, top-down policies, the profile
of museum visitors is visibly reverting to what it was before - more middle-class; more
white; less diverse. One of the defenses of the UKs free museums policy is its contribution
to tourism (NMDC, 2011). Demographic analysis reveals a probable future for UK
museums, where, if current trends continue, audiences will be radically less diverse than
the population in general, and museums will serve an ever-shrinking fragment of society
(Farrell & Medvedeva, 2010: 5).
But, as the recession bites deeper, even museums traditional audience is likely to be affected.
Quite apart from admission, the cost of visiting is becoming increasingly prohibitive especially for the so-called squeezed middle (Whittaker, 2012), baby-boomers and retired
people living on fixed or diminishing incomes. Increases in the cost of travel and refreshments
are becoming a real barrier.
So, what will keep visitors going to museums and spending their money there? I think the
answer has to do with cultural impact.
Over the years, the sector has become habituated to describing itself in terms of its
educational, social and economic impacts. But, we have little, if any, robust evidence to

SYMPOSIUM

Figure 4: Visits to Dcms-Sponsored Museums by People From Groups Ns-Sec 5-8

69

Figure 5: Visits by C2des/ Ns-Secs to Dcms-Sponsored Museums as % of Total Visits

SYMPOSIUM
70

support these as long-term effects. Political agendas have diverted museums attention away
from the difference that they make to individual members of their audiences, or to culture
more generally.
Thinking about the outcomes that we want to see as a result of our mission... is more
challenging and interesting than recording standard traditional information about outputs,
such as the number of visits received or hits on the website. It requires us to think
about what our users do with the resources they access... Do they use these resources to
create new valuable knowledge? Or is their interaction with [our] resources and services
superficial? Of course, we really dont know the answer to these questions. (Hunter,
2009, 6-7, cited by Selwood, 2010b: 8)
The effects of museum visiting are often attributed to the importance of authentic
experiences, associated with the implicit value of objects on display. Authenticity is also
used to describe the U.S.P of live performance. But, one of the most intriguing results from
research into the National Theatres NT Live screenings is that, despite lower expectations,
cinema audiences reported higher levels of emotional engagement with the production than
many of their peers in the theatre itself (Bakhshi et al, 2010: 5).
The phenomenal success of A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010)7, arguably, had
much the same effect. This multi-platform partnership between the British Museum and
the BBC, told a history of humanity through the descriptions of the significance attached
to objects. Nothing about this history was straightforward: the narratives were the work of
many hands (MacGregor, 2010, 684) - sometimes factual, other times, emotional. Some of
the histories it articulated were previously unwritten. Doubtless, aspects of its content could
be contested. But not only did it produce a genuinely rounded and multi-centered world
history, it has also been credited as the UKs first overt foray into public world history
(Lambourn, 2011: 351).
Some of the projects various platforms were evidently more successful than others. But, the
overall results are impressive by any measure: by now, the British Museum will have issued
well over half a million History of the World guides; initial evaluation suggested that 24% of
the UK population (14.8 million people) had listened to at least one episode - on air, online
or via podcasts; the podcasts have been downloaded over 18 million times worldwide, and
the entire series is still available online. By the end of the broadcast series, over 500 museums
had participated in the project. Together with members of the public, they had uploaded
5,000 objects onto the website (Selwood, 2010a). The publics own descriptions of objects
that were significant to them were posted online, and many were broadcast. Not only did the
project attract an unprecedented scale of listeners and participants, but it suggests a growing
public interest in the deep history of global connections and the relationship between local
and global (Lambourn, 2011: 352).
It is precisely those connections that lie at the heart of the museum experience - but which
we so rarely discuss. There are numerous examples:

provided its record number of visitors (1.7m) with an unequalled insight into royal
funerary practices and beliefs. It intensified public interest in ancient Egypt; arguably
boosted tourism to Egypt, and increased demand for books, films and exhibitions on
the subject. The profits from the exhibitioncontributed to saving several ancient sites
from destruction as a result of the construction of the Aswan Dam.
The Destruction of the Country House at the V&A in 1974 virtually halted the demolition
of historic country houses in Britain.
Edward Steichens The Family of Man exhibition, first shown at MoMA, NY, in 1955,
covered
the gamut of human relations, particularly the hard-to-find photographs of the
everydayness in the relationships of man to himself, to his family, to the community, and
to the world we live in. Our field is from babies to philosophers, from the kindergarten to
the university, from the childs homemade toys to scientific research, from tribal councils
of primitive peoples to the councils of the United Nations. We are interested in lovers and
marriage and child bearing, in the family unit with its joys, trials, and tribulations, its
deep- rooted devotions and its antagonisms. We want to show the selflessness of mother
love and the sense of security she gives to her children and to the home she creates with all
its magnificence, heartaches, and exaltations, and the guiding hand of the father toward
his son. There can be special emphasis on children, as the universality of man is not only
accepted but taken for granted among children. We are concerned with the individual
family unit as it exists all over the world and its reactions to the beginnings of life and
following through to death and burial . . . (Jay, 1989)
The exhibits were selected from an open submission of over two million photographs. The
exhibition came to be seen by nine million people in 38 countries and by 1961 the catalogue
had gone through 10 editions and sold over one million copies. One newspaper columnist
even suggested that The Family of Man will become as much a part of the family library as
the Bible (Jay, 1989).
It could be argued that The Family of Man complied with Mark Sloukas description of the
humanities, as

the crucible within which our evolving notions of what it means to be fully human are
put to the test; they teach us, incrementally, endlessly, not what to do but how to be. Their
method is confrontational, their domain unlimited, their product not truth but the
reasoned search for truth
They are thus, inescapably, political. Why? Because they complicate our vision, pull our
most cherished notions out by the roots, flay our pieties. Because they grow uncertainty.
Because they expand the reach of our understanding (and therefore our compassion), even
as they force us to draw and redraw the borders of tolerance. Because out of all this work
of self-building might emerge an individual capable of humility in the face of complexity;
an individual formed through questioning and therefore unlikely to cede that right; an
individual resistant to coercion, to manipulation and demagoguery in all their forms. The

SYMPOSIUM

The Treasures of Tutankhamen, first shown at the British Museum in 1972, for example,

71

SYMPOSIUM
72

humanities, in short, are a superb delivery mechanism for what we might call democratic
values. There is no better that I am aware of. (Slouka, 2009)
A survey of the cultural impact of museums (Selwood, 2010b), found that they had reflected
very little on how the substance of their programmes impacted on their audiences - whom
they affected, how, and what the experience had meant to them.
Perhaps it should have come as no surprise. New Labours expectations of cultural policy
were so highly determined that they left little space to consider such things. The dominant
orthodoxy was that a series of instrumental effects were generated as a result of cultural
value, and the effectiveness of museum programmes should be assessed on the basis of
quantitative indicators. Economic value had come to be taken as a significant indicator
in a field which is often characterised by its market failure. DCMSs former agency, MLA
(Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) had invested in research that monetised the
social return on investment in culture (nef, 2009). OBriens investigation into Measuring
the Value of Culture, for DCMS (2010) concluded that the economic valuation techniques
supported by the Treasury should be those used by the cultural sector in articulating its value
to central government.
There are alternative ways of exploring cultural impact. Before it was abolished, the UK Film
Council had been investigating the cultural impact of film. One of its last reports, Opening
our Eyes (Northern Alliance/ Ipsos MediaCT, 2011) acknowledges that much of films appeal
lies in what audiences find unsettling, what takes them out of their comfort zones and leads
them to see (if not appreciate) others circumstances.
Making a difference: the cultural impact of museums (Selwood 2010b) similarly found that
museum audiences responded to programmes which spoke the unsaid articulated and
explored sensitive and difficult issues within an institutional context; which generated a sense
of belonging and integration; which opened visitors up to different attitudes and perceptions
prompting them to revisit their own experiences, and discover their own potential; and which
inspired them to reconsider affiliations and associations at both personal and other levels.
Several of the museums that contributed to the research described involving the public in
the creation of their collections, exhibitions and interpretation. The 16 Air Assault Brigade
provided material for, and assistance with, the National Army Museums 2007 Helmand
exhibition8, and the Imperial War Museums current War Story: Serving in Afghanistan9
depends on servicemen and womens own films, photographs and written accounts. Other
UK examples included: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Culture Shock, a collection
of digital stories by people in the North East, inspired by the objects in museums and
galleries10; The Natural History Museums project, Slavery & the Natural World 11. Working
with community groups, the NHM commissioned new research into parts of its collections,
ran a series of public events and created resources which recovered the experiences of enslaved
people as naturalists, and highlighted the significance of their insights into the use of plants
in everyday life, as food, medicines and poisons.

acommunity in which you, our internet visitor, can participate. Take pictures and upload
them, collect memorabilia, listen to testimonies and exchange information. Help us to make
the Virtual Shtetl acomprehensive network for all those interested in understanding the
complex history of Polish Jews. 12
All these examples, and the findings of both Opening our Eyes and Making a difference: the
cultural impact of museums (Selwood, 2010b) highlight audiences will to empathise, and
collective effort. As such, they arguably represent manifestations of public history - created
around the lack of a rigid demarcation between historians and their publics(Ashton &
Kean, 2009:1).
So, what might the value of culture and key cultural trends of the future be?
In a future in which museums will have fewer resources, will need to focus more on their
collections and will have a narrower, if not more dedicated, group of visitors, they may have
no option but to be more single-minded; one might hope that they will be doing what several
of them already do best - capturing audiences imaginations with humanitarian content.

References
Arts & Business (2011) Private Investment in Culture 2009/10. What next for the Arts?
http://artsandbusiness.org.uk/media%20library/Files/Research/pics-0910/artsandbusinessPICS0910-3- (accessed on 19 February 2012).
Ashton, P. & Kean, H. (eds) (2009) People and their Pasts: Public History Today.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bakhshi, H., Mateos-Garcia, J. & Throsby, D. (2010) Beyond live. Digital innovation in
the performing arts. http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Beyond-Live-report.pdf
(accessed on 19 February 2012).
Bourke, M. (2011) The Story of Irish Museums 1790-2000: Culture, Identity and Education.
Cork: Cork University Press.
Cameron, D. (2010) A transcript of a speech given by the Prime Minister on wellbeing on
25 November 2010.
http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/pm-speech-on-well-being/ (accessed on 29 July 2011)

SYMPOSIUM

Other examples include the online, collective archives of two museums yet to open, the
9/11 Memorial Museum and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Make History is a
collective telling of the events of 9/11 through the eyes of those who experienced it, both at
the attack sites and around the world. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews Virtual
Shtetl is described as

73

SYMPOSIUM
74

Chung J.,Wilkening, S. & Johnstone, S. (2008) Museums & Society 2034: Trends and
Potential Futures. http://www.futureofmuseums.org/reading/publications/2008.cfm
(accessed on 19 February 2012)
DCLG (2010) Spending Review 2010.
http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/about/howwework/corporatereports/
reportsaccounts/sr2010/ (accessed on 19 February 2012)
DCMS (1998a) A New Approach to Investment in Culture. London: Department for
Culture, Media and Sport.
DCMS (1998b) A New Cultural Framework. London: Department for Culture, Media and
Sport .
DCMS (2009) DCMS Museum Peer Review Pilot - Reports and Self-Assessments.
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/
publications/5934.aspx (accessed on 19 February 2012)
DCMS (2011a) Free entry for everyone to Englands national museums is a central part of our
cultural policy. Figures for 2010/11.
http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/museums_and_galleries/3380.aspx (accessed on 19
February 2012)
DCMS (2011b) Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11.
http://www.culture.gov.uk/publications/8309.aspx (accessed on 19 February 2012)
DCMS (2012). Soaring lottery sales spell more cash for the arts. An extra 200 million could go
to the sector. http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/8855.aspx
Farrell, B. & Medvedeva, M. (2010) Demographic Transformation and the Future of
Museums. http://www.futureofmuseums.org/reading/publications/upload/2DemoFoM_
AAM2010.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)
House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2002) National Museums and
Galleries: Funding and Free Admission. First report, session 2002-03.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmcumeds/85/8502.htm
(accessed on 19 February 2012)
Hunt, J. (2010) Written Ministerial Statement: DCMS Spending Review settlement, 21
October, 2010. http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/ministers_speeches/7508.aspx (accessed on
19 February 2012)
Hunter, D. (2009) Development of strategic performance information at the National Library
of Scotland. Mimeo.

Jay, B. (1989) The Family of Man. A Reappraisal of The Greatest Exhibition of All Time,
first published in Insight, Bristol Workshops in Photography, Rhode Island, Number 1, 1989.
Jowell, T. (2004) Government and the Value of Culture. London: DCMS.
Labour Party (1997) Create the Future. A strategy for cultural policy, arts and the creative
economy. London: Labour Party.
Lambourn, E. (2011). A history of the world in 100 objects. Journal of Global History, 6 ,
pp 529-533 doi:10.1017/S1740022811000441
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=1&fid=8406245&jid=JGH&vol
umeId=6&issueId=03&aid=8406243&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSes
sion=(accessed on 19 February 2012)
Lees, D. (2009) Out of the Ashes...Post Recession Museums. Keynote, Museums
Association, 2009 Conference. http://www.museumsassociation.org/about/37272 (accessed
on 19 February 2012)
MacGregor, N. (2010) A History of the World in 100 Objects. London: Allen Lane.
McMaster, B. (2008) Supporting excellence in the arts - from measurement tojudgement.
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/
publications/supportingexcellenceinthearts.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)
Newman, K., & Tourle, P (2011) The impact of cuts on UK museums. Museums Association
http://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/funding-cuts (accessed on 19 February
2012)
nef (2009) Proving Value and Improving Practice: A discussion about Social Return
on Investment. MLA http://research.mla.gov.uk/evidence/view-publication.
php?dm=nrm&pubid=951 (accessed on 19 February 2012)
NMDC (2011) 10th anniversary of free admission to national museums. http://www.
nationalmuseums.org.uk/free-admission/ (accessed on 19 February 2012)
Northern Alliance in association with Ipsos MediaCT (2011) Opening our eyes: How film
contributes to the culture of the UK. http://www.bfi.org.uk/publications/openingoureyes/
downloads/BFI-Opening-Our-Eyes.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)
OBrien, D. (2010) Measuring the value of culture: a report to the Department for Culture
Media and Sport. http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/measuring-the-valueculture-report.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)
ONS (2012) News release: Update on the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme.
(07 February 2012). http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/mro/news-release/update-on-the-onsmeasuring-national-well-being-programme/natwell-beingnr0702.html (accessed on 19
February 2012)

SYMPOSIUM

Republished at http://www.billjayonphotography.com/Family%20of%20Man%20
Exhibition.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)

75

SYMPOSIUM
76

Rifkin, J. (2009) The Empathic Civilization. London, Penguin.


Regional Museums Task Force (RMTF) (2001) Renaissance in the Regions: A new vision for
Englands museums. London: Resource.
Selwood, S (2010a). Unpublished analysis of BBC data for A History of the World in 100
Objects for Feedback, Radio 4.
Selwood, S. (2010b) Making a difference: the cultural impact of museums. An essay for
NMDC. http://www.nationalmuseums.org.uk/media/documents/publications/cultural_
impact_final.pdf (accessed on 19 February 2012)
Slouka, M. (2009) Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school. Harpers
Magazine http://harpers.org/archive/2009/09/0082640 (accessed on 19 February 2012)
Smith, C. (2003) Valuing Culture, in J Holden (ed.) (2003) Valuing Culture Event
Speeches. http://www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/valuingculturespeeches/ (accessed on 19
February 2012)
Thompson, S., Aked J., with McKenzie, B., Wood, C., Davies, M. & Butler, T. (2011) The
Happy Museum: A tale of how it could turn out all right. http://www.happymuseumproject.
org/the-happy-museum-paper-and-manifesto/the-happy-museum-paper ((accessed on 19
February 2012)
Vaizey, E. (2010) Keynote speech at the Museums Association Conference (05 October
2010Manchester). http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/ministers_speeches/7462.aspx
(accessed on 19 February 2012)
Visser, J. (2012) How social media could help museums to turn out all right. The museum
of the future (posted 02 January 2012). http://themuseumofthefuture.com/2012/01/02/
how-social-media-thinking-could-help-museums-to-turn-out-all-right/ (accessed on 19
February 2012)
Whittaker, M. (2012) The Essential Guide to Squeezed Britain.
http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/essential-guide-squeezed-britain/
(accessed on 19 February 2012)
Acknowledgements
Im grateful to Marie Bourke for inviting me to revisit these issues. This paper is based on
Making a difference: the cultural impact of museums. An essay for NMDC (2010). It draws
on presentations at the Museums Association Conference (2011); CultureWatchEurope:
Reflections on the crisis and renewal in European art and culture, Bled, Slovenia (2011) and
the BFIs launch of Opening our eyes: How film contributes to the culture of the UK (2011).

6 http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about (accessed
on 19 February 2012)
7 http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/(accessed
on 19 February 2012)
8 http://www.nam.ac.uk/exhibitions/onlineexhibitions/helmand(accessed on 19 February 2012)
9 http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/war-storyserving-in-afghanistan (accessed on 19 February
2012)
10 http://www.cultureshock.org.uk/home.html
(accessed on 19 February 2012)
11 http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/collectionsat-the-museum/slavery/index.html (accessed on 19
February 2012)
12 http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/cms/theproject/?cid=88&lang=en_GB (accessed on 19
February 2012)

SYMPOSIUM

1 Examples include the blog, Museum of the


Future. Innovation and participation in culture at
http://themuseumofthefuture.com/ and Centre
for the Future of Museums at http://www.
futureofmuseums.org/ (accessed on 19 February
2012)
2 See http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/about-us for
a description of the UKs governments foresight
programme (accessed on 19 February 2012)
3 Personal correspondence, Clare Butler-Henderson,
Customer Information Manager Heritage Lottery
Fund, 28 October 2011
4 See, for instance, Cultural Trends Special Issue:
Golden Age? Reflections on New Labours
Cultural Policy and its Post-Recession Legacy http://
www.tandfonline.com/toc/ccut20/current (accessed
on 19 February 2012)
5 Personal correspondence with Adrian Babbidge,
Egeria, 25 August 2011

77

SYMPOSIUM

The Challenges Facing Curators in the Museum of Tomorrow

78

Dr. Adriaan E. Waiboer,


Curator of Northern European Art, National Gallery of Ireland
Before I start identifying the possible challenges facing curators in the museum of tomorrow,
I need to emphasise that the curatorial profession is a complicated one. Unlike dentists,
accountants, shopkeepers and gym instructors, the profession of a curator is not well defined.
Their roles and responsibilities not only depend on the size and the nature of the museums
they work for, but they are also determined by the individual interests and talents of the curator
in question. Whatever I will argue in this paper therefore is certainly not true for all curators.
In order to outline the challenges facing future curators, I need to predict some future
developments within the museum context. In order to make such predictions, I will make
use of the straight-line method. I am aware that no development ever happens according to
a straight line, but it does serve the purpose of my lecture, as you will hopefully see. When I
mention the straight-line method, I do not mean that you will be provided with graphs and
data, but I will make a number of predictions based on how some situations used to be, for
instance, twenty years ago, how they are now, and how they may evolve in the next twenty
years as a result.
I foresee many challenges, but will only discuss three. Firstly, the relationship between
curators and the permanent collection has dramatically changed over the last decades. The
professor who supervised my PhD dissertation used to work as a museum curator in the
1950s. He once told me that he devoted about three-quarters of his time to researching
the permanent collection, and sometimes published findings in scholarly journals. He also
wrote collection catalogues. These were not the hefty scholarly volumes, as produced by
some curators nowadays, but essentially comprehensive inventory lists. The rest of his work
consisted of administration.
Over the years, museums have shifted their marketing strategies and they have tried to
attract more visitors by organising temporary exhibitions. This development has made a
dramatic impact on the roles of curators of my generation. I have been a curator at the
National Gallery for about seven years and have devoted about 60-70 per cent of my time
to preparing temporary exhibitions and in-focus shows. Add to this the percentage of time
spent on administration and you can imagine how little time there was left for me to research
the permanent collection. Curators of my generation only spend a significant proportion of
their time on the permanent collection when they are writing a collection catalogue. Yet, this
is something that most curators do only once in their careers. The problem is that working
on an exhibition gives more publicity than researching the permanent collection. Therefore,
many young curators want to make the exhibitions that museums so desperately want. My
prediction, therefore, is that the relationship between the curators and their permanent
collections will become even weaker than is the case today.
One way of dealing with this is that a museum can hire two types of curators. One who
conducts research on the works in the collection and one who produces exhibitions. I am

I should emphasise that it is not necessarily regrettable that curators of the future will know
less about their own collection than curators of the past. This brings to my second point:
the relationship between curators and information about works of art. I have frequently
heard curators of the previous generation complaining that some of their colleagues sat on
their collections. The type of curators they were referring to reluctantly gave access to their
collections in storage, refused to share information, and sometimes even had their own
private dossier files in addition to the museums files. Few curators of my generation have
these habits. I believe that the increasing specialisation of art-historical knowledge has made
curators realise that exchanging information with colleagues is a necessity.
A case in point is the way in which museums deal with questions of attribution. I am a
specialist in the oeuvre of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Gabriel Metsu. Retired
museum director Franklin Robinson, who published a book on Metsu in 1974, once
complained to me about how museums sometimes disregarded his opinions and tended to
make up their own minds. These days, museums are more willing to adopt my proposed
changes in attribution, not because my opinions are more trustworthy, but because museums
realise they do not have the in-house expertise. Moreover, as information about attributions
is more and more accessible, it is simply embarrassing these days to accept a painting as
authentic, when experts have rejected it think of some country houses that still have a
plethora of works by Claude Lorrain, Guardi and Raphael on the wall. The challenge for
curators in the museums of tomorrow will be keeping up-to-date about the multitude of
outside opinions, and staying in contact with specialists. In addition to being a custodian of
a collection, the curator of the future will also be a custodian of outside opinions about the
works of art in the collection.
Not only the way museums acquire information will change, however; the way they will
disseminate it also needs modification. I want to demonstrate this point by discussing wall
texts. Labels and information panels have changed little over the last hundred years. They
generally provide the who?-what?-where?-when? of an object, with or without a short
explanatory text. A significant change happened here at the National Gallery of Ireland in
2002 with the introduction of the audio guide; information entered through visitors ears
rather than through their eyes. A small, yet significant detail about the audio guide was
that an outside author, rather than the relevant exhibition curator, was responsible for the
script although he or she would base the script on texts provided by the curator. In some
museums, these days, curators no longer write the wall text for works in the collection.
Instead, in these institutions, the education department is responsible for communicating

SYMPOSIUM

aware of a handful of museums which have gone down this route. The research curator
is the more scholarly type, while the exhibition curator is the more organising type. This
distinction in itself is not objectionable. The problem is that the salary of the former tends
to be lower than that of the latter. Thus, researching the permanent collection is financially
less rewarding. One clear challenge for curators in the future and this is true for museum
directors as well is to find the right balance between working on the permanent collection
and temporary projects.

79

SYMPOSIUM
80

knowledge about works of art to the audience. I am neither condemning nor applauding this
development, as it is irrelevant in the larger picture I am trying to draw. In both cases, the
labels are written by staff members from within the institution that owns the works of art.
Rather, I foresee that the labels of the future may not necessarily come from inside the
museum. The main reason for this is the exponential growth and increasing relevance of the
internet within modern-day society. I would like to illustrate this by sharing with you a recent
conversation with a friend of mine. He told me that during a visit to an art museum he read
something on a label that spurred his curiosity. The text mentioned a certain historical event,
but did not explain it in detail. This prompted him to take out his smartphone, and while
looking at the painting, he deepened his knowledge about the work of art with information
obtained from the internet. My friends experience made me realise how much our attitudes
to information have radically changed in recent years as a result of the worldwide web.
There is a wealth of information out there, which is not only accessible to all of us, but
it is also available instantly. The only problem, however, is that much of the information
out there is poorly controlled, frequently inaccurate, and often hard to find. Despite these
shortcomings, however, the internet is crucial in nearly any form of information exchange
today and certainly will be tomorrow.
My fear is that the time has come when people will no longer accept the fact that there is
so much information on the web, while museums discuss works of art in labels of fifty to a
hundred words. Walking around in the galleries, I am always amazed by the different angles
that people take in discussing a work of art. While some discuss a biblical story, I hear others
discussing fashion details; some wonder how a painting came to the National Gallery in
the first place, and others want to know what the term tempera actually means. I am of the
opinion that museums should provide a portal to contextual information for those who are
interested in it.
Museums are going to have to work out a system of using tablet computers or more
sophisticated audio guides to provide more background information about works of art,
which can be accessed instantly when standing in front of a work of art, and will give the
visitor the option to choose the type of information they want. Of course, no curator will be
able to source all of this information by himself/herself, not even if the education department
will be offering a helping hand. The information will have to come from outside. It will be the
challenge of the future curator to channel this information and check it for accuracy. Perhaps
a way forward for curators is to share information, such as biographies. What is the point of
curators of different museum each writing their own biography on well-known artists?
Thirdly, I also foresee curatorial challenges in the area of exhibitions. Temporary displays of
works of art have dramatically changed over the last century, even the last few decades. I have
already mentioned the increasing importance of exhibitions in museum marketing strategies.
Yet, exhibitions themselves have also changed, and will continue to do so. For example,
exhibitions have generally become smaller, due to the rising cost of transport and insurance.
The Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester in 1857, for example, had 16,000 works on display.

I am currently working on the concept of a large-scale exhibition. In some ways, this will be a
follow-up of a large show made in 1984, which included 127 works. My current wish list does
not exceed sixty paintings. A similar show in 2045 will include a maximum of twenty-five
works due to the extraordinarily high insurance premiums. In the future, carefully selecting
loans will be of the utmost importance for curators. On the other hand, the European Union
strongly promotes collection mobility, but this can only be realised with adequate financial
resources and a continuous guarantee for the safety of works of art, which is a challenge in
itself.

Tamara de Lempicka (18981980), Lassitude, before 1927. Oil on panel, 47 x 27 cm. National Museum in Warsaw MPW 203. National Museum in Warsaw. Photo: Piotr Ligier

This will lead, in my view, to a new type of exhibition, namely long-term placements of small
parts of the permanent museum collection with other museums. It is one of the National
Gallery of Irelands tasks to promote Irish art. At the same time, Ireland is one of the few
countries that collects Irish art in addition to the United Kingdom, the United States
and Australia. Should we not lend out part of our collection to other national galleries,
so that people in Madrid, Berlin and Rome have a chance to acquaint themselves with
Irish art? Conversely, considering that the
exhibition Paintings from Poland (2007)
here at the National Gallery was such
a success, should we not permanently
display a number of Polish art works here?
One can imagine the challenges for future
curators: setting up a collection exchange
network with the 26 other member
states of the European Union; making
representative selections of works that a
Symbolism to Modern Art (18801939)
curator may not know much about; and
finally negotiating these exchanges how
many works by Paul Henry from Dublin
for one by Albrecht Drer from Berlin?
Od Symbolizmu Do Sztuki Nowoczesnej (18801939)

Paintings
from Poland

Malarstwo
Polskie
17.10.2007 27.01.2008
Millennium Wing Admission free

Sponsored by

Paintings from Poland: Symbolism to Modern Art (1880-1939)


exhibition poster

I also anticipate some considerable


changes in exhibition catalogues. Prior
to 1970, most exhibition catalogues were
essentially leaflets with lists of exhibited
works. Currently, many catalogues are
significant scholarly statements. They

SYMPOSIUM

These days, exhibitions of Old Master Paintings usually include up to a hundred works. I am
convinced that blockbuster exhibitions will continue to be mounted in the future, despite
the huge criticism they attract. My prediction, however, is that the percentage of in-focus
shows will increase. Moreover, the high costs of transport and insurance will force museums
to make more shows involving works from their own collections. This is a development that
should be welcomed, as it will lead curators back to their permanent collection, which they
were forced to abandon in the first place in order to make exhibitions.

81

SYMPOSIUM
82

used to be written by in-house curators, but now almost always include essays from outside
specialists. Although a growing number of smaller exhibitions will no longer need a real
publication, I do not see any reason why this development is not set to continue. With more
and more curators having a PhD, the expectation on curators to deliver scholarly content is
growing. This means that if a museum chooses to commit itself to scholarly research, curators
of the future will need to collaborate more with universities. Moreover, as curators will be
more involved in long-term projects, I foresee a rise of collaborations with scholarly guest
curators; the contents of the show will be provided by the outside person, but the show itself
will be made by the in-house curator.
Exhibition topics are equally susceptible to change. There is currently a distinct increase in
exhibition concepts centred on major artists. In other words, celebrity culture has entered the
museum world. Exhibitions of Vermeer, Leonardo, Caravaggio, and Picasso are guaranteed
to attract visitors, no matter how poor the quality of the concept. The rise of celebrity shows
has just begun and it will be a huge challenge for future curators to deal with it. Many
of these shows are driven by directors who understandably need to sort out their
revenues. Yet it is the task of the curator to turn this demand into something intelligent. The
dearth of intellectually challenging shows during the 400-year anniversary of Rembrandts
birthday in 2006 has proven how difficult this actually is.
Parallel to the growing role of the celebrity artists, is the increasing power of large museums.
Large museums own more high-quality works, which are frequently requested for exhibitions.
Lending works of art to larger museums therefore is attractive, because it can lead to counterloans in the future. Small museums, as a result, have increasingly less chance of borrowing
significant loans. I can name many exhibitions presented before 1980, in my own field of
Dutch and Flemish art, that included important works, simply because the lenders honoured
an innovative concept. I am afraid that this type of show will soon become extinct. Add to
this the fact that loan-fees are currently being paid for masterpieces that go on loan to Abu
Dhabi, Dubai, China, and Japan. I have a dark suspicion that substantial loan fees will
be introduced in Europe as well. It may take another ten to twenty years and it may only
concern exceptional masterpieces, but the bottom line is that small museums, which will not
be able to raise the money, will miss out.
Likewise, I foresee politicians getting more and more involved in loan exchanges between
museums of different countries. This is not necessarily to be regretted, but I am afraid that
politicised loans will happen mostly between national galleries, and that smaller museums
will not be involved in such arrangements. The challenge for curators of the future is to keep
up the quality of exhibitions and not be seduced into making shows that will simply get their
name in the paper. Moreover, they should emphasise the richness and diversity of the arts,
rather than sticking to a few major names. At the same time, they will need to promote the
loan of masterpieces to small museums if they are asked to judge a loan request from a small
museum for an outstanding exhibition concept.

Curators used to be among the most senior positions in a museum, but with the rise of many
new specialist positions in newly created departments, their positions are weakening. In some
museums, they are no longer allowed to write labels, and in a handful of other museums,
they are no longer even allowed to determine what goes on the wall. It is my opinion that
curators can only stay strong by working more closely with other departments and engaging
in a dialogue, rather than staying in their so-called ivory tower. Moreover, curators should
continue doing what they do best, but the fact of the matter is that this differs from curator
to curator. Some will become better scholars in the future, others will become superior
information managers. Some will be excellent event organisers, while others will develop
further as skilled trans-national negotiators. As hinted at in the beginning of my paper, there
is no single prediction that will be true for all curators.

SYMPOSIUM

I foresee many more challenges for the curator of tomorrow than those mentioned in this
paper. My head is still spinning with questions such as: how will curators go about proposing
acquisitions when the works that they deem necessary will probably double in price in the
next fifteen to twenty years? Will a presentation of the collection according to the traditional
schools, as seen in the National Gallery of Ireland, not look old-fashioned in the near future?
How will curators of Old Master collections contribute to attracting young people, many
of whom are more drawn to contemporary art? These are all questions that have to remain
unanswered for now, but there is still one challenge I want to share with you and that may
be the biggest of all: curators positions within their own organisation.

83

SYMPOSIUM

Are Museums Maximising the Potential of Digital Media?

84

Hugh Wallace
Head of Digital Media,, National Museums Scotland
This is undoubtedly a big question, and one that a lot of museums and cultural organisations
are considering as they look to find new and engaging ways to inspire and involve their
audiences.
To answer the question, Ive tried to break it down into smaller chunks: by attempting to
define what we mean by digital media in the museum context; by outlining the principles
that have been adopted at National Museums Scotland, the institution where I work; and by
offering some food for thought in the form of example projects from a variety of organisations
that I think are worth highlighting.
What do we mean by digital media?
In my experience, much focus tends to be put on the institutions website, interactives
within the gallery spaces, and making the museums collection of objects available online.
Often, however, this can be at the expense of areas around which online audiences have
increasing expectations. This can lead to the neglect of transactional functionality (ticket
sales, ecommerce, donations) on websites, a failure to see social media as anything more
than promotional activity, and a lack of attention paid to how smartphones are changing
the way people use the web.
The following points I think are worth considering when looking to add some definition to
digital media.
Big numbers can be distracting
As we strive for ever greater figures the thousands of people visiting our websites, the
millions of items we can digitise, more fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter we can
sometimes forget about the experiences were trying to create.
One size doesnt fit all
Just as we wouldnt choose to display or interpret all our real objects in the same way
within the walls of the physical museum, it is important to apply the same logic to digital
experiences. Often museums choose to display no more than database records of objects in
their collection, but is that fulfilling a genuine audience need?
Your audience and their niche interests
Everybody is different. Museums offer so much choice and diversity, and people come to
them for all sorts of reasons. Whether something as simple as a well-targeted blog or a regular
post of the latest interesting stuff on Facebook it is important to offer different forms of
interpretation and aim to make your digital content as diverse as the people coming through
your doors.

SYMPOSIUM
85
Concorde and the Lewis Chess pieces,
two of National Museums Scotlands
treasured objects. You wouldnt choose
to display them in the same way within
a museum, so why would you try to
on a digital platform? Images copyright
National Museums Scotland.

Create meaningful experiences


Were all trying to give people interesting, rewarding experiences that will leave a lasting
impression, but a meaningful experience can also be a useful one. Not everything has to be
awe inspiring. So if someone comes to your website looking for a service information on
opening hours, events, where to buy some postcards cater for that need. Be responsive, as
that is a fundamental step to future engagement.
Beautiful small things
Instead of focusing on how many? try to think about what impact? consider your digital
offer to be a series of beautiful small things: well targeted, well connected, engaging and
properly evaluated.

SYMPOSIUM
86

The approach at National Museums Scotland


Weve made a number of positive steps forward over the last two years:

A much more user-centric website.


A lively presence on Twitter that we use to drive traffic to all sorts of interesting stuff,

and a growing presence on Facebook where were starting to get a better handle on the
content people will comment on, like and share.
An active blog that covers all areas of the organisations work, and has even generated
media stories in its own right.
Some useful experimentation in how mobile phones can be used as a tool for
interpretation.
But were learning all the time, and with each project we undertake we get a better sense
of how people react and respond. From a strategic perspective, were trying to embed the
following principles in our digital work:
1 Snackable content is readily available
People snack. As much as wed love them to spend hours devouring our content the
truth is that most users dip in and out. So cater for that need and think about how to
tell a story in ten seconds rather than ten minutes.
2 The online world blends seamlessly with the physical
Online transactions facilitate real-world experiences, and this happens without even
thinking about it: booking tickets for the cinema, downloading music, taking a flight.
3 People share their experiences and
4 Dialogue is the expectation
People share things online and then they talk about what theyve shared our
communications cant be a one-way street.
5 Information is accessible
Information needs to be available at any time of the day and suit different
communication and learning styles.
Five beautiful small things
The following are examples of different museum projects that I think showcase some of the
best the sector has to offer, and Ive intentionally selected five different types of experience.
Game: High Tea, Wellcome Collection, hightea.wellcomeapps.com
In 2010 the Wellcome Collection launched an online game called High Tea to accompany
their High Society exhibition, which explored the history of psychoactive drug usage. This
is a sophisticated strategy game based around the buying and selling of opium in order to
slake the British thirst for tea in the 1800s. Essentially it took one of the main themes of
the exhibition and turned it into an interactive experience, something museums have been
doing for many years.

Successfully reached out to the elusive 16-24 year-old market


Created genuine discussion and greater awareness amongst players
Over 3 million plays to date
Online Collection: Google Art Project, www.googleartproject.com
Google itself can hardly be described as a beautiful small thing but with Google Art Project
I think theyve done something quite remarkable. By allowing people to see works of art in
ways they havent been able to before for instance you cant get close enough to the canvas to
see the cracks in the paintwork of Van Goghs Starry, starry night. So the digital representation
on Google Art Project is not only about putting a collection online, it is also about giving
people a completely different way of looking at art.

It plays to the strength of the medium and uses familiar tools


Gives users unique experiences and allows art to be explored in a different way
Snackable: focuses on a select few works rather than entire collections it is not trying
to be a database of all the worlds great art

Mobile app: Just Add Art, Bonnefantenmuseum,


http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/just-add-art!/
id455654095?mt=8
Just Add Art is a fantastic example of approaching
a mobile application in a simple, playful and
accessible way that encourages sharing and
further exploration. It is based on works in the
Bonnefantenmuseums permanent collection
and it lets the user add a snippet from a selection
of artworks onto their own photos. This can
result in surprising and unique compositions
and allows people to create something unique
that can be shared, and encourage people back
to explore the original object.

Snackable: easy to digest, simple interface


Shareable: creates something fun and unique
Encourages the exploration of artworks in
a light-touch, accessible way

SYMPOSIUM

However, what made this different was the way the game was taken to market. Rather than
relying on the museums own channels, the team used games portals and aggregators to share
the game, resulting in some excellent results.

87

Just Add Art: a snippet of artwork from the


Bonnefantenmuseum applied to my own photo.

SYMPOSIUM
88

Mobile web: 26 Treasures, National Museums Scotland, http://www.nms.ac.uk/26Treasures


In November 2011, National Museums Scotland ran a project called 26 Treasures in our gallery
of Scottish history. This is an initiative that was started at the V&A where 26 writers respond
individually to 26 objects within a museum collection. We took the relatively simple step
of recording each writer reciting their piece with the view to giving our objects a voice and
making the audio recording available online. Using QR Codes we then allowed people to
listen to the recordings on their own smartphones whilst alongside the objects themselves.

Focus on the content, not the QR Code


Connects the physical and digital museum
Snackable: short snippits of audio intended to add value to the overall experience.
Social Media: The 80s Are Back, Powerhouse Museum, http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/
the80sareback/
Social media is one of the areas that causes the most confusion in the culture sector. On one
hand it is vital that museums and galleries are active on the platforms that people are using
in their everyday life, on the other the perceived benefits about the sort of engagement social
media offers can be overstated.
This example from the Powerhouse Museum in Australia, long associated with digital
innovation, is excellent because it demonstrates how a well-thought-through social strategy
can enrich an exhibition. The 80s Are Back ran for most of 2010 but before it was launched
social media was being used to source objects for display via a community built up using a
log and Facebook.

Targeted: connects the subject matter and audience with social platforms in a

meaningful way
Focuses on shared experience: encourages dialogue around toys, music and film, tied
back to the exhibition themes
Responsive: elements of the online experience that didnt resonate with their audience
were discontinued or adapted.

Dr Michael John Gorman


Director, The Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
Introduction: Ten dimensions of cultural change
Predicting the future is a risky business. Scientists in particular have tended to get it
spectacularly wrong more often than most. Nonetheless, I believe we can identify a number
of key cultural shifts that are in progress and will help identify the types of cultural institutions
that will flourish in the twenty-first century, which include the future manifestations of
science museums and science centres. These high-level shifts are not unique to the museum
world, and are also characteristic of the broader educational and cultural spheres. They may
be considered as a set of axes or dimensions for cultural change. Perhaps surprisingly none
of these trends turns out to be explicitly about technology, though adapting to them may
well require embracing or developing different technological tools. The list is, of course, open
to debate and discussion.1
20th Century
large
slow
stable
interactive
dative (to/for)
enclosed
content provider
visit experience
standalone
subject-specific

21st Century
small
fast
agile
participatory
ablative (by/with/from)
porous
creative platform
meeting place
networked
cross-disciplinary

Table 1. Ten key shifts in cultural institutions

The list above is not exhaustive. There is also nothing magical about the turning of the
new millennium. Instead, many of these shifts are, I suggest, a consequence of the radical
reorganisation of our knowledge and culture brought about by the internet, mobile
technologies and other seismic changes in the ways we share ideas and organise ourselves
socially. The internet is, one might say, the asteroid that hit our planet at the end of the last
millennium, and our major cultural and educational institutions need to decide very quickly
if they want to be dinosaurs or mammals in order to survive and remain relevant.
As a preliminary series of points of discussion I would like to take these large-scale cultural
shifts in turn, and consider briefly how they might apply to the concept of a science museum.
Shift 1: large small
Clayton Christiansens book The Innovators Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause
Great Firms to Fail (Harvard, 1997) makes the point that it is extremely difficult for large
organisations to remain innovative. As organisations grow, the very factors that originally

SYMPOSIUM

The Future of Science Museums:


Ten Shifts Shaping our Cultural Institutions

89

SYMPOSIUM
90

made them successful have a tendency to stifle their ability to innovate and adapt. It is far
easier for small organisations to innovate and take creative risks. I believe we are seeing a
shift from enormous museums with vast collections and hundreds of staff to small, flexible,
dynamic cultural centres of science. We are seeing a greater emphasis on ephemeral activities
events, festivals, picnics. We are seeing small labs popping up, sometimes in partnership
with universities (e.g. SymbioticA in the University of Western Australia, Art-Science Lab at
UCLA, Le Laboratoire in Paris) and smaller, more adaptable spaces such as Science Gallery
in Dublin. This is not to say that larger organisations cannot have a culture of innovation.
According to Christiansen, large organisations can innovate and remain relevant only if they
create a skunkworks a small organisation within the large organisation which is allowed
to break all the rules, something that is common practice in large technology companies
from Lockheed to Hewlett Packard.
Shift 2: slow fast
Science and technology are changing very quickly. Audiences are becoming used to as-ithappens information. Museums have a habit of developing exhibitions very slowly, sometimes
over a number of years, and have difficulty in rapid-response to current scientific culture.
This has a tendency to create a gap between museums and the coalface of research and
technological innovation, and to keep researchers working at the cutting edge from signficant
engagement with museums and their public, barring rather structured and sometimes forced
interactions. Museums need to be able to develop new skillsets and mindsets around working
fast more of a production mindset, where a strong events programme become as important
as exhibitions, and where the very notion of permanent collections may be open to question.
Shift 3: stable agile
If science museums have an aspiration to have a transformative role on visitors, in the past
this role was often associated with generating new scientists or promoting general scientific
literacy in the public. However, we are seeking to motivate, inspire and engage a new kind
of person now flexible, creative, collaborative thinkers and makers who can move between
different areas of knowledge, between art and science, between technology, design and
business. This poses a challenge to our educational and cultural institutions, requiring greater
agility and flexibility.
Shift 4: interactive participatory
This notion of interactivity is so beloved of the science centres that spread around the
world in the 1980s. Interactivity is now banal. Instead, people are interested in participatory
experiences, where they can contribute to shaping the experience and where they are helping
design and co-create.
Shift 5: dative ablative
From your Latin grammar you may remember that dative means to or for, ablative means
by, with or from. Dative cultural institutions are institutions that give things to an audience
expertly curated exhibitions, operas, films, plays. Ablative cultural institutions allow projects
to be done by or with the public or draw ideas from the public. Large, established cultural

Shift 6: enclosed porous


Whereas twentieth century cultural institutions generally had rigid boundaries between us
and them, between staff and public, between inside and outside, these boundaries are
now becoming more porous. Instead we are seeing concentric communities with differing
levels of engagement with the museum, with the committed core acting as an extended team
of the museum staff, given a voice and a platform by the institution, and providing their
time, networks and creative energies in return. The porous institution is not bounded by
walls. Science museums that bring their activities into unexpected locales, from nightclubs
to music festivals and fashion shows, will be successful in reaching new audiences who would
not otherwise consider walking through the doors of a science museum. New strategies of
engagement are required to create the extended creative community of the science museum.
It is clear that inward-focussed educational and cultural institutions cannot remain relevant.
Shift 7: content-provider creative platform
Following on shift 5, there is a shift going on in the role of the museum as content-provider
to that of a creative platform for a core community; a place where scientists, artists, designers,
entrepreneurs, schoolchidren and other groups can express themselves creatively. From a
focus on instructing young people in basic science in an accessible/engaging/entertaining
way, there is more of a focus on inviting in people with different kinds of expertise to explore
and create the future of science and technology together. Becoming a creative platform
rather than a content-provider raises many challenges for the traditional operating model of
the science museum. Systems of content development involving tight policing of didactic
messages for scientific accuracy need to be replaced by a relinquishing of some control.
This requires science museums to be willing to take certain risks, to be more locations for
experimental activities, to shift focus to frontier areas of science and technology and to act
more as facilitators and catalysts for a creative community than as a paternalistic voice of
authority.
Shift 8: visit-experience meeting place
The idea of the museum as primarily a visit experience, a linear ride, which may be
superficially interactive but offers the visitor little opportunity for genuine contribution is
under challenge from other models for cultural and creative spaces. If museums are aiming
to engage a core committed community serving as an extended team for the in-house staff,
then the museum needs to become a place for that community to meet, exchange ideas, to

SYMPOSIUM

institutions, including science museums, frequently have a dative approach curators


develop content which is then pushed out to the public. A major shift for science museums
involves moving to an ablative approach, requiring completely different mechanisms for
content generation. Sometimes this is loosely described as museum 2.0 or bringing web 2.0
approaches to the museum, however it goes far beyond the online experience. In practice
this is often delivered in a highly tokenistic way an ablative veneer on a dative institution.
However the most dynamic, vital and relevant cultural institutions of the twenty-first century
are likely to be ablative to the very core. This will require a radical rethink of staff roles,
curatorial policies and programming and engagement strategies.

91

SYMPOSIUM
92

drop-in and to feel welcome. Exhibitions and events created by that extended community
spark off critical discussions and further creative connections. To move from visit experience
to meeting place requires a radical rethink of the business model of the museum in creating
a core of regulars who come to the museum of their own free will, free entry is required, as
well as an environment where people feel comfortable meeting and sharing ideas informally.
Starbucks has popularised the concept of the third place, a place where you spend time that
is in between home and work, something that Ken Arnold and I have discussed a bit in
terms of our own spaces in the Wellcome Collection and Science Gallery. One could consider
a key opportunity for the science museum of the future is to function as a third place for
the third culture, to borrow literary agent John Brockmans notion of the third culture as a
bridging of CP Snows two cultures of arts/humanities and sciences. A key observation is that
real physical meeting places (meat-space as it is sometimes described by techies) remains
extremely important to people in spite of new communications technologies. The richness
of face-to-face interaction has not yet been replaced by technology, physical meeting places
still matter. To remain relevant, museums need to recognise and extend their roles as places
for meeting and exchange of ideas of a core community or tribe.
Shift 9: standalone networked
In the twenty-first century it is impossible to think of a new museum project without giving
serious consideration to a network strategy. There are several different models available for
the networked museum or cultural institution. The extension of franchised collectionbased museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao or Louvre Abu Dhabi are high-profile cases
in point. In these cases, valuable collections and iconic buildings, combined with a longestablished and prestigious museum brand are at the heart of the value proposition to target
locations. At the other end of the spectrum are the many exhibition sharing networks and
less formal network structures, and groups like ECSITE, ASTC etc. Can we imagine new
models for the networked museum which could encompass some of the other cultural
shifts described here? For example, what would an ablative museum network look like,
functioning more as a distributed brain than as prepacked content touring or being
duplicated in a network. Where the franchising of the Louvre and the Guggenheim were
built on long-established brands, for the museums of the future a network strategy may even
become primary, preceding the establishment of the flagship iconic space. Science Gallery,
for example, is currently establishing a network of spaces in partnership with universities
around the world where each node in the network is expected to be creative, generating its
own programme, exhibitions, events from the local creative community and sharing them
through the network. Rather than the top down network characteristic of the Guggenheim
and Louvre franchises, in a context where the mission is more about engagement than access
to high value collections, it is interesting to reflect on what a bottom up network of cultural
centres for science may look like, each one drawing on the strengths of its local creative
and scientific community. Not a hub and spokes network but a multi-hub network, with
virtuous feedback mechanisms between the different members so that valued innovations
developed by one member may be shared with the others.

michaeljohn.gorman@sciencegallery.com
www.sciencegallery.com
1 This list is inspired by a chart of the future of
learning developed by educational reformer Stephen
Heppell, www.heppell.net
2 Designer Sean McDougall first introduced me to the
concept of ablative thinking.

SYMPOSIUM

Shift 10: subject-specific cross-disciplinary


In recent years there has been an explosion of multi-disciplinary spaces engaging with
science, especially art-science spaces. In a period of just six months Wellcome Collection, Le
Laboratoire and Science Gallery opened their doors, all with different approaches to the artscience interface. Since then a slew of new spaces have emerged around the world, ranging
from the art-science lab in UCLA, Arts Catalyst in London to Santa Monica here in Barcelona.
Longer established cross-disciplinary spaces include the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz and
SymbioticA in Perth, Western Australia. Why this explosion of new cross-disciplinary cultural
institutions? The idea of bringing the arts and sciences together is nothing new. Nonetheless
this proliferation of new art-science spaces is a dramatic trend in the past four or five years.
I would suggest that the cause is a response to a crisis in the specialisation of the traditional
educational and cultural institutions precipitated by new technologies. Exhibitions and
events that bring together people across disciplines to collaborate are increasingly common.
The public also responds well to cross-disciplinary projects, as broad themes of concern and
relevance can be explored from a number of disciplinary perspectives. Cross-disciplinary
teams are essential for innovation, and we are finding that many of these new spaces, rather
than simply presenting science or technological innovations to an audience are actually
serving as sites of research and innovation, emphasising the need for cross-disciplinarity.
Artists and scientists are equal partners in these new spaces and projects.

93

SYMPOSIUM

How Museums Address the Changing Demographics


of the 21st Century

Henrik Zipsane
Director, Jamtli Foundation and Professor at Linkoping University, Ostersund, Sweden
I would like to thank you for your kind invitation to come to Dublin and to the National
Gallery for this fine occasion. I especially express my gratitude to Marie Bourke from whom
I gather great inspiration and a marvellous sense of discipline! Thank You!
What I will talk about today is a subject about which it has been quite difficult to get
attention for some time now. I hope that may strike you as strange when I am finished and
I will do my best to guide you to that conclusion.
Background
The Western world, and not least Europe, will most probably in the next two or three decades
experience a demographic change which is of great importance to both socioeconomic
development and livelihood in the broadest sense. When I say most probably it is because
natural disasters, severe epidemics or even war may have some influence but even a new war
comparable to the First or Second World Wars would not really change the fundamentals in
the magnitude of the demographic change.
The change I am referring to is that of the growing proportion of senior citizens as part of the
total population. By senior citizens I mean people who have left the paid working life and
would, on average in Europe, normally be between 60 and 90 years old. We are in Europe
talking about a change in which the prognosis is that where some 20 percent of the European
population was retired in 1980 this figure will be more than 30 percent in 2030. It may not
sound so dramatic but it is! We may even add that this is the conservative prediction; some
researchers predict a 35-36 percent increase.

94

According to EU statistics, by 2011 the percentage of retired people in Europe is as illustrated


below:

This development in Europe is fundamentally caused by two other quite clear developments.
On the one hand we get older! Life expectancy has risen by about 10 years or more during
the 20th century in most countries and across Europe as a whole. Secondly, the average birth
rate has declined radically during the same period.
These two trends combined have their roots in socioeconomic development during the ages
of industrialisation and information.
Attitudes and value systems which emerged during that period in Europe, and are today
deeply rooted in our part of the world, relate to these trends. There seems to be no reason
to expect that such attitudes and value systems will suddenly change (Schuller & Wattson,
2009).
The relation between life expectancy and retirement age in Sweden
Year
of birth

Year
aged 65

Average life
expectancy

Average
retirement age

1930

1995

82 years 5 months

65 years 0 months

1940

2005

83 years 7 months

65 years 9 months

1945

2010

84 years 3 months

66 years 3 months

1950

2015

84 years 9 months

66 years 7 months

1955

2020

85 years 2 months

66 years 11 months

1960

2025

85 years 7 months

67 years 2 months

1965

2030

86 years 0 months

67 years 5 months

1970

2035

86 years 3 months

67 years 7 months

1975

2040

86 years 7 months

67 years 10 months

1980

2045

86 years 10 months

68 years 0 months

1985

2050

87 years 0 months

68 years 2 months

1990

2055

87 years 3 months

68 years 4 months

Source: Statistics Sweden

Governments throughout Europe, with the endorsement of EU and other OECD regions,
are all in the process of shaping policies and legislation which will make people stay longer
in work life. It seems realistic that a few years from now it will be more the norm that people
work until they reach the age of 70; this may be because retirement benefits or savings are
too small to sustain living standards.

SYMPOSIUM

The challenge we are addressing is more severe in some countries than others, with everything
in between the situations in Bosnia-Herzegovina at one extreme and Italy or Germany at
the other.

95

SYMPOSIUM
96

Whatever the reason, most European governments do have a double political challenge
here and now. On the one hand, they have to convince the people that they have to work
for a longer period of their lives, and on the other hand as they know, this is very difficult
and they will not get the balance in order anyhow they have to convince people that
Europe and each individual country needs more liberal attitudes and regulations in the area
of immigration as the labour force otherwise will be too small in relation to the number
of older people. Governments know that this double challenge is hard and most political
parties realise that there are few if any votes in advocating for later retirement and more
immigration.
In 2011 the average retirement age in Europe is still a few years lower than in the USA or
Japan the areas often used for comparison:
Average age for retirement
There are signs in the European political debate that what
USA
64.5 years
we will see in the future will be more gradual retirement
Japan 65
over a period of years. Implementation of such a system
Ireland 64.1
does however present some difficulties around persuasion
Netherlands 63.9
at both parliament and trade union levels, but surely it
Sweden 63
will come. The future with many more senior citizens
who expect a worthwhile life is near nearer than most
Norway 63
people realise.
UK 62.5
Germany 62

The Economic Policy Committee and the European


Commission issued a report in 2006 estimating the
Finland 61
working age population in the EU will decrease by 48
million, a 16% reduction, between 2010 and 2050, while
Italy 60.4
the older population will increase by 58 million, a gain of
Greece 60
77%. Already, in the shorter perspective up to 2030, there
France 59.4
will be changes in the relative composition of workforce
Source: Eurostat
and retired groups in Europe. The U.S. Census Bureau
estimates the European Union will experience a 14%
decrease in its workforce and a 7% decrease in its consumer populations by 2030.

Denmark

61

The generations which today and in the future retire from their working life are not like
their predecessors as seniors. They have other competencies not necessarily better or more
competencies but they are differently equipped.
While this is difficult to quantify we do have some indicators. In the OECD study of the formal
educational background of different age groups, it is remarkable that in many countries twice as
many 30 year-olds have attended tertiary education as their parents among the 60 year-olds. The
table below presents statistics on attendance at tertiary education for two age-groups (25-34 and
55-64) who by 2009 had attended such education (OECD 2011):

25-34

55-64

But I really want museums to be there too!

Museums and museum policies


Well! What does all this mean for museums? Is it not just good that there will be many
more retired people, and that a growing percentage of these people will have more advanced
educational backgrounds to bring to the experiences at museums? This is undoubtedly part of
the scenario. Another part is that there will probably still be in 20-30 years from now between
a third and half of the elder generation with relatively low level of formal education. With
increased life expectancy due to better living standards and medical advances, there will also
be a growing number of people who will present different sorts of challenges to the museums.
For decades children and young people have been the priority for museums. Governing
bodies at national, regional and local levels have demanded this from the museums. This
priority has also been expressed at European level with the Youth Programmes and with
young people prioritised in all mobility actions.
To be fair, I shall not forget to mention the two latest initiatives: designating 2011 the
European Year of Volunteering and 2012 the European Year of Active Ageing. In 2013 we
will probably have a European Year for Citizenship through Culture, which of course may
be argued also to include senior citizens. These theme years are however quite weak in
terms of impact as they are just regarded as an extra priority in the long list of priorities for
the framework programmes 2007-2013. An illustrative example of EU thinking here is the
European Social Fund which one might think should also include our senior citizens but
no! The ESF is exclusively focused on the relationship between people and the labour market.
People who get paid for working with senior citizens may be of interest to ESF but not the
senior citizens themselves! The situation at EU level seems unlikely to improve on this issue
in the future. The European strategy for the coming framework period Europe 2020 does
mention senior citizens - soon one-third of the population (European Commission, 2011).
Recently, a pilot study on museums and the ageing population indicated that in most
European countries governments view the issues regarding older people as part of a broader

SYMPOSIUM

No doubt at least some of the future


generations of retired people will be
OECD average
40 %
20 %
different from their parents. What that
Japan
55 %
28 %
means is more difficult to access or
Denmark
45 %
27 %
describe but if an image of retired people
anno 1970 or even 1990 enjoying playing
Sweden
42 %
28 %
cards or going to the bingo is typical for
Ireland
49 %
21 %
its time then we have other images for
Italy
57 %
28 %
retired people anno 2010: these could
include things such as genealogy, art
education, senior university, library visits, of course combined with some good sensible walking
or other forms of physical exercise.

Age groups

97

SYMPOSIUM
98

policy on access for everyone (Grut, 2011). Furthermore, national policy documents do not
always mention older people as a group, and access predominantly means physical access.
There are good examples of initiatives from regional or national governments which recognise
the value and potential of culture for older people. In the Czech Republic, the Government
Council for Older Persons and Population Ageing was established in 2006 by a Government
resolution on the implementation of the National Programme of Preparation for Ageing for
the period 2003-2007. It is now a permanent advisory body to the Government of the Czech
Republic on issues related to ageing and older persons. The Councils mission is to promote
conditions for healthy and active ageing, dignity in old age, and active participation of older
persons in economic and social development in the context of demographic ageing. It aims
to ensure equal rights for older persons in all areas of life, to protect their human rights and
support development of intergenerational relationships in family and society.
In Norway, the Ministry of Health and Care Services is responsible for providing good and
equal health and care services for the population. In 2006 the Ministry launched a new policy
concerning culture and the ageing population the cultural walking stick. The government
wished to strengthen the public health policy through political measures that would reduce
inequalities in health between social and ethnic groups and between the sexes. It was stated
that social and cultural activities, apart from good health, give us tools to express thoughts
and experiences that normally can be hard to express, have therapeutic and preventive effects,
develop and strengthen social networks and communities. The cultural walking stick is a
temporary policy, but before 2014 the government is planning to triple the budget and make
the policy permanent.
The Emilia Romagna Region in Italy has for a long time been marked by the phenomenon
of an ageing population. In order to face the changes brought about by this situation, in
2004, after a lively debate and a long process of consultation in which Local Authorities,
trade unions, cultural and economic organisations, associations and the not-for-profit sector
actively took part, the regional government approved the Action Plan for older people of
the Region. The main aim of the Plan is to contribute to realising a society for all ages, a
society which is respectful of older people, recognising dignity and the rights of citizenship
for all individuals without discrimination and throughout life.
There are, therefore, examples throughout Europe of a shift in policy development on the
relationship between society and older people but it is coming slowly and ought to be
speeded up considerably if it is to keep pace with demographic developments.
Resourceful users and needing consumers
Tom Schuller and David Watson, in their nationwide UK study on the demands there will be
on lifelong learning over the coming decades point out the need to differentiate rather than
working with a stereotyping terminology. In relation to retired older people they use the terms
the Third Age and the Fourth Age (Schuller & Watson, 2009). By Third Age they mean the
time span in life between gradual or full retirement and the time when reduction in mental

A study of literature on research done about the impact of art experiences on older people in
UK, Canada, US and Australia underlines the increased confidence and self-esteem through
art experiences in the target group as the most easy and common result to register. Other
findings were a more developed capacity to embrace new positive aspects to identity and
life circumstances and the counterbalancing of mental wellbeing difficulties associated with
periods of loss (Mental Health Foundation, 2011).
Sarah Housden has looked more specifically into how the individual in older age actually is
a resource because of exactly the phenomenon of older age (Housden, 2007). Many different
reminiscence projects have been carried out in the UK and elsewhere during the last decades.
The programmes all stimulate the use of the memories of older people in several ways. It can
be difficult to see where the benefit for the museum begins and ends and where the benefits
begin and end for the individual. That, I think, is exactly the magic of it all. There should
not be a distinction between the two.
To keep it short and simple: museums are public organisations and should naturally be to
the benefit of people; if museums succeed with that then naturally there is also benefit for
the museum.

SYMPOSIUM

or physical capability makes its mark. The Fourth Age is the time span beyond that, marked
by a growing need for care and declining health. These of course are broad generalisations.
There will be those who experience poor health the day after they retire and there will be
those who are as active as people much younger for decades. Schuller and Watson foresee
a need to think in the terms of a responsibility for society to shape a curriculum for senior
citizenship which should have the aim of creating or stimulating a good and fulfilled life. In
order to do that we probably have to address the resources of older people.

99

If we look closer at memories as memories I think we can make that point even more clearly.
As we learn throughout life the outputs of learning activities are stored and structured with
our previous learning as personal competences. These competences make us what we are. All
our competences can be classically divided and described in the forms of knowledge, skills
and attitudes. The function of memories may be described most broadly as the competence
to preserve all other competences.
As we, with a postmodern understanding of learning, are learning all the time and throughout
our lives it stands to reason that the older you get the more learning experiences you have
had. If the museum is a place of public and social memories then it should be obvious that
the meeting between the museum and older people should be dynamic in its own way.
Older people come with knowledge accumulated, not only over a longer time, but in
another period of history which to them is the common background among their peers.
This characteristic is used in, for example, oral history which forms an integral part of much
reminiscence work. The memories become an invaluable source. Many projects have been

SYMPOSIUM
100

centred around peoples memories from the time of the World Wars and have been used both
academically and in popular storytelling.
Our older people also come with skills which are often extraordinary, as these skills were
valuable and in use in another time but are perhaps no longer in practical use and are
therefore not perceived as valuable in everyday life. This is what many museums know from
initiatives to preserve and present traditional crafts.
We have fewer examples of museums working with the attitudes of older people. That is
a shame because it is probably even more challenging than memory-preserved knowledge
and skills. Attitudes created in another period of history are both academically interesting
to experience and - to be frank many such attitudes are counterproductive in the current
stage of community development. A good example of this are attitudes towards immigration
where the older generation may be much more critical than younger generations.
So we have aspects pointing in the direction of resourceful senior citizens and we have
other aspects pointing in the direction of senior citizens as learners. The big challenge for
the professionals in museums is how to change our own attitudes. Many museums, when
they occasionally consider older people, think only about aspects of access to the museum.
From there it is a long way to thinking about senior citizens as resources and as learners.
There is even a longer way to go to become accustomed to a perception of senior citizens as
resourceful learners because it challenges our traditional perception of learning.
There will be more older people in the museums in the future. The OECD puts it this way:
as the level of qualifications through formal education goes up not only will more people vote
but more people will have a higher level of satisfaction with their lives and more people will
do volunteering work (OECD 2011). Museums will have to face the challenge of developing
a new perception and probably a new terminology around this.
The growing numbers of older people in society should primarily be seen as a challenge about
how to create synergies in the meeting of peoples memories and the collective memories in
the museums. Museums can learn from our senior citizens and the senior citizens can learn
from the museums. There is no reason not to see the growing number of older people in
our countries and regions as also a market potential. Of course museums should take their
share of that market.
There is as much to do on the political level as there is on the practical level of museums.
We need policy development which encapsulates all elements of the meeting between senior
citizens and museums. Most of all we need for the governments at European, national,
regional and local levels to actually point out this target group as a challenge for the museums.
Being invited to participate in the shaping of a senior citizenship for the future should be
among the finest challenges of museums today!

Commission of the European Communities(2004) Implementation of Education and


Training 2010 Work Programme Key Competences for Lifelong Learning a European
Reference Framework, Directorate-General for Education and Culture - Brussels
November 2004.
Commissionof the European Communities (2005) Proposal for a Recommendation of the
European Parliament and of the Council on key competences for lifelong learning a European
Reference Framework, Brussels 10 November, 2005 COM (2005) 548 final 2005/0221
(COD)
Commission of the European Communities (2010) Europe 2020 A European Strategy for
Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, Brussels 3 March, 2010.
Council of the European Union (2011)Council Conclusions on the contribution of culture to
the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, 3090th Education, Youth, Culture and Sport
Council meeting, Brussels19 May, 2011.
Fristrup, T., & Munksgaard, M. E. (2009) Alderdommen er ikke, hvad den har vret
(Danish). Ageing is not what it used to be. In S. Glasdam (Ed.), Gerontologi (pp. 76-91).
Kbenhavn, DK: Nyt Nordisk Forlag / Schnberg Forlag / Arnold Busck.
Grut, Sara (2011) Working paper on European national policies concerning ageing and
Culture: The Learning Museum Network, WG: Museums and the ageing population,
presented in Tampere 11 October, 2011.
Hewitt, Paul S. (2002) Depopulation and Ageing in Europe and Japan: The Hazardous
Transition to a Labor Shortage Economy, in International Politics and Society, New York
2002.
Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean (1994) Museums and their Visitors, Routledge London 1994
Housden, Sara (2007) Reminiscence and lifelong learning. Leicester, UK: NIACE
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.
Mental Health Foundation (ed.) (2011) An Evidence Review of the Impact of Participatory
Arts on Older People, www.mentalhealth.org.uk
OECD (2011) Education at a Glance 2011 OECD Indicators, Paris 2011.
ONeill, Mark (2011) Museums Culture Welfare or Social Justice, in Christina
Wistman, Sofia Kling & Peter Kearns (ed.) Creativity, Regional Development and
Heritage, Jamtli Frlag stersund 2011.
Schuller, Tom & Watson, David (2009) Learning Through Life. Inquiry into the Future for
Lifelong Learning, NIACE Leicester 2009.

SYMPOSIUM

References
Aldridge, Fiona (2009) Enhancing informal adult learning for older people in care settings.
Interim report and consultation document, NIACE London 2009

101

SYMPOSIUM
102

Zipsane, Henrik (2008) Cultural Heritage, Lifelong Learning and Social Economy of
senior citizens, in Hadwig Kraeutler (ed.) Heritage Learning Matters Museums and
Universal Heritage, ICOM/CECA 2007 proceedings - sterreichische Galerie Belvedere
Wien 2008.
Zipsane, Henrik (2010) Heritage Learning in service of the memories and life quality of
senior citizens, in Weiyuan Zhang, Young Chien Ming Enoch, Dorothy Cheung, May
Lau and Duan Chenggui (eds) International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong
Learning, The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 2011.
Zipsane, Henrik (2011) Instrumentalism in Heritage Learning, in Birgitta E. Gustafsson,
Cornelius Holtorff and Ebbe Westergreen (eds) Museum International Applied Heritage,
No. 249-250, UNESCO Paris 2011.

Fiona Kearney
Director, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork
When considering the question, How will small museums and galleries survive the changing
environment, I wasnt sure if I was being asked to provide a lament as to how small galleries
and museums might survive, or a toolkit as in heres how they will survive. This paper will
try to do both, starting with the lament: the future will be confusing.
The future will be confusing is an artwork by Tim Etchells that was displayed in the Lewis
Glucksman Gallery as part of the exhibition In Other Words. When you came into the
Glucksman during the show, you encountered this glowing jumble of neon letters and it was
fascinating to watch the visitors trying and finding the meaning in this scattering of language.
On turning the corner in the gallery, the letters came together to form the sentence, the
future will be confusing, and I suppose the lament in my paper is that even when the writing
is literally on the wall, we dont necessarily like the message. That feeling of confusion and
understanding is very, very real in the world right now. It is also one of the core reasons why
I work in the arts and why I think many of us do, which is about that process of making
meaning. That is how I will close my paper today.
First, I want to make another lament: the worst will and can happen, and unlike Sara Selwood,
I dont need a Photoshop image to show the impact of a changing environment. Here is a
devastating image of the flooded Glucksman Gallery two years ago when the major floods hit
Cork. The flood threatened to wipe out our art collection in the store. What was the response
to the crisis at that moment? Declan McGonagle made the point earlier about resetting.
So, how do we reset, because really in a crisis, it is about how you respond. We decided to be
very open about our challenge, and we asked for help. We were given support by conservators
who travelled from all over the country. We found both independent conservators, who were
working on their own, and large institutions, in particular, the National Gallery of Ireland,
who all came to us. The flood happened on a Thursday evening and they were with us on
Friday working throughout the weekend to achieve an extraordinary outcome. Most of the
collection was damaged and treated. It is, therefore, very important to communicate our
need as a sector, and then to acknowledge the people who support you. It is important to use
any opportunity, even crisis situations, to tell stories about your museum or gallery. When
we re-opened the Glucksman, we took the opportunity to talk about our institution. We
dedicated a gallery space to explain to people what had happened, to hang some of the works
that had been conserved and to ask for further support. Our visitors were fascinated by the
conservation process and all that had been done behind the scenes. We became a symbol of
the wider recovery in the city. Thus, when President Mary McAleese made her final visit to
Cork, she chose the Glucksman as the space for her farewell, stating, The Gallery was a joy
when it opened in 2004, and a symbol of national resilience when it re-opened in January
2010. She made the Glucksman part of the national story.
There are three strategies for survival: the first of these is conversation. One of the Glucksmans
followers on Twitter recently expressed his disgust with the quality of the coffee in the Gallery

SYMPOSIUM

How will Small Museums and Galleries Survive the


Changing Environment?

103

SYMPOSIUM
104

caf. Im really passionate about coffee, and while not usually concerned when people talk
about the Glucksman on Twitter, I felt bad for this visitor. So, I apologised. He may have
been surprised that it was the Director who responded, but he did a very nice thing. He
didnt just reply to me, he told his entire tweeter stream that he was acknowledging he was
complaining too much. Since then, he has become something of a Twitter champion for
the Glucksman and regularly tweets about upcoming events at the Gallery. So, there are
genuinely small ways to make a difference and any visitor to your space even the virtual
space can become an advocate for what you do. The way to involve these people is through
conversation.
These conversations dont have to be online. Adopt the approach you are comfortable with.
Sometimes its about just having a cup of tea. One of the things we do when were launching
an exhibition is to invite B&B owners along Western Road near the Gallery to tell them
about our exhibition and what were up to. There is a very obvious hope that they will
communicate this to the people visiting them. For example, earlier this year the Glucksman
was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. This was a direct result of a recommendation to
the visiting staff writer, from one of our B&B owners, to view the Gallery.
The second strategy is about collaboration. Small museums and galleries have an opportunity
to explore more experimental kinds of collaboration. The Glucksman undertook a joint
exhibition project with two European galleries of a similar scale, the Halle fur Kunst in
Luneburg and the Kunsthaus in Baselland. As part of the show we invited the artist collective
Drei Hamburger Frauen to paint a mural across all three venues. The Glucksman presented
the middle part of the triptych, which was shown simultaneously in all venues. Visitors could
never see the entire artwork, but could imagine it in the other spaces, in other countries.
Three small institutions were able to come together and share resources so that the profile
for the exhibition was much larger than would have been possible for any individual gallery.
Another kind of collaboration that can create significant impact is local partnerships.
Seek out the experts who live close to you, in our case a university. Our exhibitions are
informed by the research and expertise of our academics. It enriches the artworks to have
them contextualised by different disciplines and creates an awareness of the importance of
visual art among the university community. It is also possible to create conversations and
collaborations between art works. This can create the opportunity to cross-fertilise audiences
and for smaller spaces that cannot afford blockbuster shows, it provides a way to use wellknown names to attract new visitors. In the exhibition, Grin and Bear It, the Glucksman
had a controversial photographic installation by contemporary UK artists Common Culture.
It showed images of young people collapsed drunk on the streets of Liverpool. In the hang
for the exhibition, the curators deliberately interspersed well known images by Goya. Of
course, a lot of people just came in to see the works by Goya and would look at the images
by Common Culture and think, what is this? We actively engaged people in a conversation
around what the Goyas were actually doing and what they meant, because the artworks were
images of torture and in a sense much more deeply shocking in what they say about human
nature than the pathos of the Common Culture images. Perhaps one of the things which

A third strategy concerns audiences and a sense of community. In each of the Glucksman
exhibitions, we try to focus on a target audience that hasnt been to the Gallery before and to
coax them in, either through the theme of the exhibition, or through tandem programmes
dedicated to them. A useful way to do this is to consider who the influencers in your
community are. For our exhibition Mixtapes: Contemporary Art and Popular Music, we
invited local DJ and owner of the Pavilion nightclub, Stevie G, to talk about How Music
Changed My Life. Stevie made an extraordinary presentation about music and civil rights.
What we hadnt known was that Stevie had been a student of history in UCC and his whole
interest in hip hop and rap came from his research on Martin Luther King. It was an electric
moment in the Gallery that brought an audience of music lovers into dialogue with the
exhibition.
So, conversations, collaborations and community. These communities might provide new
streams of income generation. The Glucksman offers specific fee-paying programmes for
younger people, senior audiences and those interested in learning about art. Some of our
activities attract philanthropic support, which allow us to offer art-making activities for free.
Even in a challenging environment, it is important not to lose sight of those communities
who might not be able to afford to pay for art experiences, and where possible, to try and
find other ways to finance their participation.
At our core, all museums and galleries provide a unique experience. It is an experience
that is particularly valuable in our fast-paced world. In this paper, I have suggested that
small museums and galleries have a particularly valuable role to play in fostering creative
conversations, collaborations and communities. The future will be confusing. We will survive
by being a place where our audiences can figure out what that means.

SYMPOSIUM

smaller galleries and museums can do, is to play with audience expectations and enable new
ways of seeing art.

105

SYMPOSIUM

Profitable, efficient services and revenue streams

106

Martin Barden
Head of Membership and Ticketing, Tate
Introduction
Cultural institutions face increasing pressures to generate more revenues from their visitors,
against a background of diminishing subsidy and a deep recession. This document summarises
the role of the individual in this challenge and how I have sought to increase revenues while
reducing costs and deepening engagement with Tates programme.
At Tate I lead a large-scale, cross-site sales, service and membership operation, much of
which is dependent on effective IT systems. However, my hope is that the logic I employ
can be applied to an institution of five people with few resources just as much as to one
which operates at the scale of Tate. This presentation therefore is more about techniques
than systems.
Tate welcomes around 7.5m visitors a year and receives public funding - but only about 40%
of operational resources now come from central government; the rest we raise ourselves. We
all have to make money, so our customers are key players in our future.
Principles
These are the threads which inform my approach
1 The institution is not the institution; the customers are the institution. So, who is it
for?
2 If the phone rings, pick it up. Sort out your back office. Customers expect your service
to be as good as their favourite suppliers, John Lewis, Amazon, etc. How can I set goals
and targets to reach that level?
3 Dont ask; dont get. Seek deeper engagement by offering more; 90% of people who
dont give to charities dont give because no-one asked them. Employ people who will
ask.
4 The gallery is not a puppy. If you are looking for philanthropic support, you have to
build a relationship first. You cant go from a benefit-led (self-interest) message to a
philanthropic one overnight.
5 Keep it simple, make it simple. If your customer service is built around your
institutions internal structures then your customers will not be able to navigate it.
The customer (accustomed to visiting also known as a visitor or the audience) has already
said YES when arriving at your venue, which gives you an extraordinary opportunity to
connect and make them happy. So make it easy for them.
Fast food to slow food
There are many long-held assumptions that a queue is a problem and that speedy service
is good service, for example that need to be challenged to deliver an experience to your
customers based around their needs. Unless you plan to serve hamburgers, its best not to
seek to rush customers through an engagement. You can put customers back at the heart of

Take the Amazon approach your customers should be able to do almost everything in one
transaction, one phone call, one visit. Then allow your customers to help you to do your
marketing, peer-to-peer, through social networking, blogging etc. Invite feedback and
listen to it but be consistent in your response; one person complaining about something
efficient and structurally appropriate should not result in a change of direction.
By investing in efficient systems you can grow your business while reducing overhead. For
example, departmental volumes for Membership and Ticketing at Tate are:

2005: 1.5m tickets, 69,000 Members, 135,000 phone calls


2010: 2.2m tickets, 95,000 Members, 72,000 phone calls

During this time, headcount and overhead remained static. By making everything available
on-line, you can put your customers in control but dont ignore those who wish still to
phone or come in. Ive redeployed staff from answering phones to working more closely
with customers.
Selling and the Journey (also known as the Ladder)
Its all about Point of Sale.
Take a retail approach to customer service and recruit staff with a retail background. It is
important to have a team with an artistic outlook but it is essential to have customer focus.
The approach is to engage the customers and seek to enhance their experience and the
gallerys returns by offering more than one item. So, we begin the journey from a visit to
the free collection or the website, and develop via a paid exhibition, then a joint ticket, then
a Gift Aid declaration with a donation, then a membership, leading to regular donations,
higher-level membership and, ultimately, a legacy. Via deeper engagement and simple,
joined-up channels you can unlock the potential in every visit. It works both ways better
for the customer, better for the organisation
You can then develop a model for Lifetime Value (LTV) which is a powerful tool for planning,
investment and internal advocacy. By measuring and illustrating the potential value of each
visitor, you can make medium- and long-term planning assumptions about your business
and fundraising activities.
Membership
At the heart of the institution is the membership scheme. Tate now has almost 100,000
memberships, which means we connect with around 200,000 individuals through the
scheme. This is the core audience. It has grown from around 20,000 memberships in year
2000, when Tate Modern opened.

SYMPOSIUM

the institution by allowing them to dictate the outcome of their visit, whilst enabling the
institution to maximise engagement and profitability. It furthermore enables your colleagues
to do the best job possible.

107

SYMPOSIUM

How to grow membership

Get the offer right. The scheme is underpinned by a great exhibition programme

without which there is no offer. It is a benefit-led scheme which is sold through active
engagement
Match your brand promise. You need the quality of your service to match your
customers expectations and to keep them loyal. A premium-priced subscription scheme
needs premium service. If you tell your members that they are helping the institution,
then tell them how they are helping in reality. Internal advocacy is just as important as
your marketing and communications.
Align all channels to deliver sales. Connecting with you, whether on-line, on the
phone, or on site needs to be easy. This is a point-of-sale proposition, and needs to be
easily accessible.
Understand customer motivation. Although you may sell using one or two techniques,
there are a variety of motivations for your customers. Treat them individually and
understand that motivations change over time. Without customer loyalty you will not
be able to grow your scheme. Your customers are your greatest advocates who share your
beliefs, but will become your most harsh critics if you give them cause to complain.
Deliver appropriate and consistent messaging. It is vital to replay the key benefits
back to your customers and to drive visits back to the venue/s. You also need to
find appropriate moments to move the conversation from benefit to philanthropy.
Establishing the right volume of communication is perhaps the most difficult challenge.
Segmentation
When the UK recession began in late-2008 we saw an immediate decline in membership
renewal rates, which had touched on 90% throughout much of the year.

108

To understand better who our Members are, we employed a direct marketing agency to
analyse seven years of transactional, behavioural and demographic data and to group the
Members into eight like-minded segments. Using this model we were then able to predict
the likelihood of each Member renewing membership.
We targeted the different groups with different methods and frequencies of renewal messages,
and with incentives to visit more often (via a free coffee, a free poster, etc.,) to increase
visitation where it was low. We also recognised that some Members were so unlikely to renew
that we would better target them with other offers from Tates range, for example a visit to
the restaurant or a special piece of merchandise.
The outcome of this revised approach was a gradual increase in renewal rates, eventually
restoring the renewal rate to around 90% within 18 months.
The segments in summer 2011 look like this:

.
8

6
3

HIGH

Likelihood to lapse

LOW

The model is refreshed every four months, in line with the exhibition programme. We have
now adapted its use across our communications programme to target activity in line with
the Members interests.
Philanthropy
The journey from benefit-led sales and engagement to a philanthropic relationship is
complicated, as is the funding of an institution like Tate.

You need to connect. One of the challenges in a free museum or gallery is that you do

not know who the majority of your visitors are. Connecting whether via in-gallery
data capture, social networking, your retail operation is the first step to being able to
go beyond just one visit.
Develop a dialogue. Invite your audience to speak to you, and move from a broadcast
model to one based around conversation. Develop your social networks, get your
teams to blog, and most importantly respond to the feedback you get. And, where
appropriate, act upon the feedback.
Timeliness. You need to judge when is the most appropriate time to make an ask. In
terms of Members, its not when theyve recently joined or are about to renew. Its also
unlikely to be within the first 18 to 24 months of a membership as you first need to
begin to move them on the journey from benefit to philanthropy.
Donations boxes. As an example of untargeted fundraising without any connection,
the average value of a donation into an old-fashioned donations box is a few pence.
Without data capture, this is a huge lost opportunity.

SYMPOSIUM

Segments

109

SYMPOSIUM
110

Case Study William Blake


Tate recently had the opportunity to acquire a group of eight hand-coloured etchings by
William Blake. They had been found in a box of books bought by an anonymous gentleman
in the late 1970s, and were offered to Tate for acquisition.
Tate launched an appeal to raise funds for the Blake works, including a direct e-mail campaign
targeted at specific groups of Members from the segments explained above. The emails were
sent from a real person - Tate Curator, Dr Alison Smith with an explanation as to the
importance of these works, and their charming back story. Unusually, this campaign was
launched in late November near to Christmas and was enhanced with a kicker email
10 days after the original message.
33% of Members opened the email. We asked Members who made a donation to tell us
their stories, to let us know why they had donated and what Blake meant to them. Over 300
Members donated, 90% of whom had never made a donation to Tate before. The average
donation was over 50 against less than 10p in a donations box.
Everyone who made a donation was invited to a reception at Tate Britain to unveil the works,
and several of the stories from contributing Members were used on the wall texts and leaflets
about the display.
You can find more information on the Blake acquisition here:
http://www.tate.org.uk/about/pressoffice/pressreleases/2010/21062.htm
Contact:
martin@cultureconsultants.co.uk
http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/martin-barden/5/494/875
@tyrannosaurusx

Professor Declan McGonagle


Director, National College of Art and Design
A Symposium which considers the future of Museums and Galleries, in the context of the
future of cultural institutions, in general, is important and timely. In my own view what
we are working through is not actually a recession a period of negative economic activity
which will come to an end, but a fundamental resetting of the key assumptions, around
which much of our social, economic and cultural development and provision have been
shaped across Europe, since the Second World War.
In these islands, the post-war consensus meant that poverty should be attacked rather than
tolerated or managed, that health treatment should be accessible, free at point of delivery,
that access to third-level education should be increased, that full employment was a goal and
that arts/cultural provision should be at arms length from Government. In this period we
have seen retreats from all of these positions, in as much as they were occupied at all, but in
an accelerated fashion over the last two or three years, because of a broken economic system.
It is in this context, in this time of resetting, therefore, that we have to ask questions about the
nature and purpose of arts practice, arts criticism and mediation and the nature and purpose
of Museums, Galleries and cultural institutions. And the real question, of course is: are they
fit for purpose in this rearranged world? However it is also right to ask for what purpose?
We have particularly expensive models of provision which I would argue are increasingly based
on forms of consumerism, as if they are based on the idea of art as a form of entertainment
rather than as a form of knowledge. This has been a powerful and, some would argue,
necessary tendency in Museum and Gallery culture in recent years.

SYMPOSIUM

A Resetting, Not Just a Recession

111

But what would our provision look like, if based on the idea of art as a form of knowledge?
How would we house our patrimony? Indeed would housing (literally) be necessary, in
the forms we have inherited? The Arts Council of England, for example, as reported in The
Guardian (2 November 2011), has ruled out new gallery building for the foreseeable future,
following the plethora of such building over the last ten to fifteen years in England. Is that
a problem or an opportunity? It should be taken as an opportunity to develop new ways of
producing, communicating, experiencing and understanding the meaning and value of art.
To say this is not to diminish existing models, but it is to argue for new forms of provision,
alongside existing forms, which must now, anyway, take full account of how young people,
in particular, are increasingly living within digital worlds.
We are in a period of change, to be welcomed and negotiated positively but only if we fully
understand the shifting ground on which we stand at the moment and how that ground
has been constructed and articulated, up to this point. This Symposium is setting out to
map these crucial issues for the sector. We need to think forward and not defensively and to
engage fully, because this economic, social and cultural resetting, when completed over the
next two to three years, will remain in place for a long time.

SYMPOSIUM
112

Acknowledgements

Dr. Olive Braiden, Chair, National Gallery of Ireland

Roundtable Chair:

Professor Kathleen James Chakraborty, School of Art History and Cultural Policy,

University College Dublin
LEM Roundtable Forum:

Siebe Weide, Director, Netherlands Museum Association and

Chairman of NEMO, Network of European Museum Organizations

Chair: Sofia Tsildou, Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Tourism

Directorate of Museums, Exhibitions & Educational Programmes, Greece.
Symposium Chairpersons:

Professor Emeritus Ciarn Benson, University College Dublin

Theo Dorgan, Poet, Writer and Cultural Commentator

Professor Declan McGonagle, Director, National College of Art and Design
Symposium Panel Discussion Participants:

Dr. Dominique Bouchard, Curator of Education and Access,

Hunt Museum, Limerick

Paul Doyle, Chairman, Irish Museums Association

Ifty Finn, Manager, Glasnevin Museum

Paddy Gilmore, Director of Learning and Partnership,

National Museums Northern Ireland

Carla Marrinan, Manager, National Print Museum

Willie White, Artistic Director and Chief Executive,

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, Former Artistic Director, Project Arts Centre

Dr Audrey Whitty, Curator of Ceramics, Glass and Asian Collections,

National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History
Symposium Guest Evening Speaker:

John Kelly, Award winning broadcaster and writer. Presenter of The View

on RT and the JK Ensemble on RT lyric FM

The National Gallery of Ireland:



Education: Joanne Drum, Education Officer: Administration,

Brina Casey, Education Officer: Community Engagement & Outreach,

Caomhn Mac Con Iomaire, Education Assistant

Interns: Natalie Voorheis and Aoife Kenny

Rapporteurs; Caoilte OMahony and Gemma Sexton

Curators: Dr. Adrian Waiboer, Anne Hodge and Curatorial Assistant,

Niamh MacNally

Centre for the Study of Irish Art: Donal Maguire

Library, Digital Media and Website: Andrea Lydon, Catherine Ryan

and Claire Crowley

IT: Niamh Gogan and Stephen Henehan

Development: Orla OBrien

Press and Communications: Valerie Keogh and Emma Pearson

Picture Library: Marie McFeely and Louise Morgan

Visitor Services & Events: Sile Boylan and Sinead Leahy

Buildings and Security: Christiaan Clotworthy, Tadhg Condon, Tony Walsh

Finance: Vivienne Lynch and Orla Burrell

Shop: Lydia Furlong and Staff

With Taste Gallery Caf

SYMPOSIUM

Learning Museum Network Project


Working Group: New Trends in Museums of the 21st Century
Marie Bourke, National Gallery of Ireland Working Group Co-ordinator
Ann Siri Hegseth Garberg, Sverresborg Trondelag Folkemuseum, Norway
Sara Grut, Nordiskt Centrum for Kulturavspedagogik, Jamtli, Ostersund, Sweden
Hanna Mellemsether, Forskningskoordinator, Museene i Sr-Trndelag, Norway
Dragos Eduard Neamu, Reteaua Nationala a Muzeelor din Romania, Romania
Massimo Negri, European Museum Academy, Netherlands
Margherita Sani, Instiututo Beni Culturali Regione Emilia Romagna,
Bologna, Italy LEM Co-ordinator
Gita Sapranauskaite, Viesoji Istaga Rumsiskiu, Muziejaus Dvaro Akademija,
Lithuania
Sofia Tsilidou, Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Tourism, Directorate of Museums,
Athens, Greece
Professor Henrik Zipsane, Director, Jamtli Foundation and Linkoping University,
Ostersund, Sweden

113

SYMPOSIUM

Supported by:

The Learning Museum Network Project see www.Lemproject.eu

Held under the auspices of:



The International Council of Museums (ICOM) International Committee

for Education and Cultural Action (CECA)

In association with NEMO, Network of European Museum Organizations

In association with IMA, Irish Museums Association

114

Symposium brochure and poster design:



Jason Ellams

SYMPOSIUM

Photographic Credits:

Photos Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales

Photos Biblioteca di San Giorgio in Poggiale, Genus Bononiae, Bologna

Photos Bonnefanten Museum, the Netherlands

Photos Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UK

Photos Edward Steichen and Carl Burg, The Family of Man
Eurostat

Photos Finnish Museum Association, Helsinki

Photos Glasgow Museums

Photos Irish Museum of Modern Art

Photos Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Netherlands Museums Association

Photos National Museums Scotland

Photos Marc OSullivan

Photos Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/OECD

Photos The National Gallery of Ireland

Paintings from Poland: Symbolism to Modern Art 1880-1939,

exhibition poster (detail: Lassitude by Tamara de Lempicka)

Statistics Sweden

Photos Tampere Museums, Finland

Photos Tate

115

The National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland