Tag Archives: Museums

Maintaining Museums in a Changing World

Twenty years ago, if you had asked any museum director where they see museums going, their response would more than likely involve technology, as that was a monumental societal shift that was happening at the time. The internet was just beginning to grow rapidly and people were communicating with more ease than ever before. Museums saw the introduction of technology as a way to expand into digital forms. They foresaw the use of digital exhibits, interactive participation, and even virtual reality in museums.

In order to succeed, museum exhibits should be able to withstand and adapt to any major social changes that may occur. Museum curators often keep in mind the prediction of what will matter in the future when they create these exhibits so that their exhibits maintain relevancy within the public sphere. For this reason, most museum directors are well aware of the changes happening in society and how their exhibits are being reflected in the public eye.

Museum directors are often aware of what they need to change in museums and how museum interactions will change over time. In a project called, #FutureMuseum, museum directors were asked where they see museums in the future. The majority of directors hoped for increased diversity, collaboration, and conversation to be generated by future museum exhibits. Museums have already somewhat started to make these changes, slowly but surely. Art museums are organizing their exhibits with the purpose of making a political statement, forcing visitors to think about the pieces they are seeing rather than mindlessly staring at a painting on a wall. Science museums have started a reboot that involves a heavy

An exhibit in the Cleveland Museum of Art includes an interactive digital curation experience. 

amount of interaction as compared to older science museums where the exhibits were just displays of scientific discoveries for the visitor to read about on a little placard.

As museums are centers open for public consumption, the main goal of any museum is to please everyone that happens to walk through its doors. However, the biggest challenge that museum directors face is to please everyone while also finding a way to challenge their views and ease them into an environment that engages them in those difficult conversations in a way that is memorable. In the #FutureMuseum project, nearly every director hoped to see increased social interaction and participation within the exhibits as opposed to the traditional learning emphasized by museums in the past. Directors understand that for the next generation, museums need to focus more on creativity and self-discovery rather than the didactic storytelling method of earlier times. As Clare discusses in an explication of

Exterior of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

the integration of the Black Lives Matter Movement with the recent opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the museum encouraged interaction by offering safe spaces to grapple with the heavier topics introduced throughout the museum. It is not necessarily about the display of culturally relevant objects; it is about applying them to an experience and how they can influence the future.

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Works Cited:



Clare, Rod. “Black Lives Matter: The Black Lives Matter Movement in the National Museum of American History and Culture.” (2016)

Museum Education as the Future of Museums

When I was a kid, museum field trips were the highlight of my school year. I had the privilege to grow up in a city full of museums of all kinds and privileged enough to go to a school that could afford field trips. I know I was not alone in loving museum trip but I also was not the majority. My brother, in particular, hated museum field trips for him they were full of uncertainty and stress. For me, museum trips both in and out of field trips offered an alternative way of thinking about knowledge that excited me.  Museums let me think about knowing and facts through objects and video and display rather than textbooks and lectures. By presenting museums as exciting opportunities for knowledge and engagement to kids we are creating a future for museums that will continue field trips and rainy day excursions.

Kids on a trip to the Field Museum engaging with a teaching collection

And the way to engage these kids is with museum education that is relatable and interesting. When museum educators work with teachers to develop curriculum and programming that dovetails with classroom work it shows kids that their learning and knowledge can extend outside of the classroom walls into the world around them.

But it is important that our museum education programming doesn’t just replicate what is in the galleries. Programming should complicate and expand the exhibits and ask patrons to think beyond the objects on display. And sometimes this programming has to come from outside of the institutions themselves, often they are too entrenched in their own histories and paradigms to really critique themselves.

This is where organizations like Museum Hack come in. Museum Hack runs renegade museum tours in major museums like the Met but outside of the structure of the Met. They take you through the museum focusing on often lesser known exhibits and integrate information about the history of the museum alongside the objects themselves. These kind of tours as well as others led by un-affiliated academics open up new ways of reading museums that engage with different histories.

A tour by Shady Ladies focusing on women

Through creating museum education programming that engages a diverse audience we can build a future for museums that is more accessible and critical of the structures that have created them. We can interrogate the colonial histories of museums as collecting institutions and set our future apart from these practices but within that history. Museums will never be fully separate from this colonial past but by changing how we talk about museums with kids and how we introduce museums to kids we can create a culture of criticism around the museological legacy.


Further Reading:


Why Should Schools Visit Museums?



Museum Hack – Team Building Activities & Museum Tours