Monday, June 22, 2009

Museums and the future (2)

I’ve blogged before about the Center for the Future of Museums report Museums and Society 2034. Such publications take a bit of time to filter out and debates around them to start. So there is now some interesting discussion getting underway, such as:

- The Report picks up on the aging of western society, with people staying fitter longer, and due to current economic necessity, staying in jobs longer, thus causing the risk of a generation of talented individuals not gaining employment in museums. Is this not a broader phenomena and problem, I ask? Certainly I do hear that jobs in museums are very hard to come and I do wonder where graduates of museums studies courses are finding employment. But then isn’t it part of the attributes of Gen Y-ers that they are resilient and will find other ways to contribute? Certainly Museums and the Web 2009 was full of young people working in and around the museums sector and the web.
- Accessible design is something that keeps rearing its head – this is all about ensuring that everything we exhibit in museums can be accessed by 100% of the population whatever their background or physical state. Maybe by 2034 we will achieve this, but I can’t help feeling that in the process we run the risk of compromising the very things we are trying to make accessible.
- The Virtual taking over from the Real is another theme that keeps reoccurring. My view is this debate has been and gone. The virtual cannot supplant the real, and indeed if anything it enhances the experience of the real. The virtual makes access far more possible, but cannot provide the excitement and thrill of seeing the real in the flesh.
- Museums as energy hogs – now this one resonates with all that I blog about. We cannot sustain the current levels of environmental controls, and have to design museums that rely on passive climate control systems, with a whole new approach to operations.

As always reports like these are as useful at engendering debate around the issues as much as they are about really understanding what the crystal ball is showing us.

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