Tag archive for "Future of Museums"

Future of Museums, Museum Planning, Starting A New Museum

Starting a Museum

No Comments 23 October 2012


Starting a museum, simple words.  I started this blog as a way to clarify my thinking, as a by product the blog as become the world’s most popular resource for museum planning.  My most popular blog post has been “10 Steps to Starting a Museum“.  Four years after starting the blog, I now have enough content to put together a book, “Starting a Museum” planning to publish by Spring 2013.

The Word “Museum”

Museum: An organization in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which  researches, communicates and exhibits things and ideas, for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment,  my definition from a previous blog post.

I do not believe a museum is a collection.  Many collecting museums have gone through fires or natural disasters, to reopen and rebuild their collection.  Of course a museum losing its collection is a catastrophe, but museums have continued to overcome such disasters.  I don’t believe a museum is the building, many museums have moved to new buildings.  A museum is it’s mission and the intent and communication of that mission.

Expoloratorium’s Mission:
The Exploratorium is a museum of science, art, and human perception founded in 1969. The Exploratorium’s mission is to create a culture of learning through innovative environments, programs, and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about the world around them.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Mission:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, “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.” The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.

American Museum of Natural History Mission:
The American Museum of Natural History, to be located in the City of New York for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and Library of Natural History; of encouraging and developing the study of Natural Science; of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction.  To discover, interpret, and disseminate — through scientific research and education — knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis:
To create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.

As descriptive as each mission is they don’t fully communicate the “how” to accomplish the mission of each museum.  I use the term “museum voice”, as a descriptive  in addition to the mission statement, to more fully describe “how” the museum communicates.   As examples, (I am making these up), The Exploratorium will speak with you as the smart hip neighbor who is a little wacky but such an expert that you respect and admire their opinion, The Met is your very rich great great grand father who you only know from his books, photos and memoir, but he is a legend in the field of Art, The AMNH Is the older aunt who has traveled the world as a research scientist whose opinion and knowledge is beyond reproach, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the forty year old young mother who works as a child physiologist and wears Jimmy Choo shoes.   Each would communicate in a different manner.  I believe a museum is a combination of the mission and “museum voice” that describes the museum.

I believe museum exist on spectrums such as;  Collecting / Non-Collecting, Highly Interactive /Low Interactivity,  Academic / Informal, Inward Focused /Outward Focused, Early Childhood / Mature each museum exists on a point on each spectrum creating a matrix.  Today most museum are categorized by type, such as  Children’s Museum, Natural History Museum, Art Museum, Science Center and History Museum as examples.  I believe we are at a juncture in museums.  In the future I believe large “destination”  museums.  (Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, AMNH, Exploratorium, The Met) will continue to follow the typcial designations but smaller museums will become community based mixes of all of the types.   The reality is every community cannot support a museum of each type, so the community based museums will become hybrids.  Recently I consulted on a very large international “Art Museum”.   I put “Art Museum” in quotation marks, although the museum has a very significant Art collection, from top to bottom they do not want to think of themselves as a typical Art museum and all of its associations (old, stuffy, snobby, off putting) but instead as an amalgam of many of the disciplines, Art , Science, Philosophy, Community and Technology.  Slowly more of these types of museums will emerge.


Starting a museum can be the process of founder deciding to create a museum, leading to community involvement, design, building, fabrication and opening.  But, as museums continue to morph, “starting” can also mean an existing museum, with an existing collection, reinventing itself.  I have seen many examples of this recently, Curiodyssey is an existing Natural History Museum in San Mateo.  The Director Rachel, realized that the museum needed a new direction.  The museum changed it’s name, changed it’s logo and most importantly changed its focus.  Before the rebranding the museum was a more typical small natural history museum, displays or local taxidermy, fauna, and local history.  With the new refocus the museum is now more in the model of a smaller Exploratorium, highly interactive exhibits grouped around themes of science and natural history.  The collection is the same, the building is the same, but the museum voice is very different  focusing outward instead of inward.  When I think of a typical natural history museum the museum voice is “here are the objects, and the content please absorb”, an outward museum voice is “here is something to interact with, now what do you think?”  I would include the process of Curiodyysey as Staring a Museum.

When I use the term “Starting a Museum” I am referring to how I see the future of museums, some will be new museums, some will be museums reinventing themselves.  I thought it was important to define how I see the future of museums and how I think of starting a museum.

Future of Museums, Museum Planning, Museum Trends

Museum Trends

No Comments 14 October 2012

What will the museum of the future look like?

I am thinking about how to go about answering that question.  As part of the  process I have created museumtrends.org a microblog to use as a scrapbook to collect thinking about the future of museums.  My hope is to create a collaborative forum for discussion on the topic and use museumtrends.org as the record of the conversation.  As a first pass, I have some thoughts about the future of museums to get the conversation going.

I welcome suggestions and comments!

Thanks, Mark

Museum Trends, for the week ending October 14, 2012

Museum Crowdsourcing:

Museum Crowdsourcing Resource Guide, SFMOMA, Art Micro HubsMuseum volunteer from Anywhere

Future Business Models:

Tesla Museum Fund Raising,

Using the Museum as a Canvas:

Anish Kapor, “Olor a Nuevo” by Fritzia Irizar

Open Source Mobile Museum App:

MuseumMobile Wiki,  Tap Into Museums

Artist based Destinations:

James Turrell’s Skyspace at Rice University

Open Authority:

Museums and Open Authority,

Artists using emerging technologies:

Manta Rhei, Richard Dupont


Museum Trends

Museum Trends

No Comments 02 April 2012

"Trends Map" from Now and Next


Weekly news about museum trends, museum planning, museum exhibition design, the future of museums and interactive kinetic sculpture for the week of March 30,2012.

Museum Planner Related:

After speaking with an artist who couldn’t afford to visit the museum where he worked posted “Museums are for the Rich”

Posted a how to: “Museums and the Internet”

Posted video of “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” at Liberty State Park 

Created a new group on Linkedin “Museum Planning” hope you will join!

Thank you to all of new sponsors !  There are still three spots available for $25 per month

Updated “Interactive Kinetic Artists” on Vimeo, hope you will join!

Trends, this week, “Pop up museums” and delivery of digital content

The nature of delivering educational material is changing:

MIT Free Online Classes

Singularity University, another profit / non profit collaboration

Interactive Art

Speedy Toy Cars Blur The Boundaries Of Sculpture, Chris Burden at LACMA

My favorite Art work of the week!, “Tape Recorders” (2011) by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer on Vimeo

Gaming in Museums:

Integrating Minecraft into the Museum

Museum Marketing:

Museums should copy the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge, The most interesting part of the exhibition! “The Spot Challenge”

Exhibition Design:

This is the future! Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service Build it from supplied blueprints

Museum News:

“Museum Hacker?”, Amazing story of a French Artist Underground, breaking into museums to “restore” Art

My favorite gallery of the my day of gallery hopping, Eyebeam

“Pop Up” Museum:

BMW Guggenheim Lab, Mobile Museum, Model of the future of museums

“24 Hours Museum” Prada “Museum”, I love the concept a “pop up” museum

Digital Content

Nicely done, Interactive iPad Museum Catalog at University of Virginia Art Museum

Europeana, Online database of European Cultural Heritage

Future of Museums, Starting A New Museum

“Hub Museum”

No Comments 06 May 2010

As a follow up to my Predictions for the future of Museums,  I have been thinking about the future of museums.  What if there was a place where parents, teachers, scientists,museum professionals, artists, students and experts could all share ideas both on the internet and in person. The “Hub Museum” is such a place!

Hub Museum is not one museum but a new model of a partnership of connected museums. Instead of a children’s museum, natural history museum, an Art Museum, a Science Center, the Hub Museum is all of them! Museum live through attendance and attendance is driven by new programs and exhibitions, the Hub Museum, changes every three months, into a new place and the exhibitions are rotated through all of the fellow hub museums.

Teachers, parents, scientists,museum professionals, artists, students and experts all gather online at “The Hub” portal. Teachers can share lesson plans and review science standards and curriculum, parents can view lesson plans and curriculum. Scientists can answer questions of students, “citizen scientists” can earn “expert” points by answering questions. Students can ask questions and learn from one another and experts. The online presence is fun and relaxed, although the content is in line with California Science Standards and National Curriculum. Same as the sharing of exhibitions the Hub portal is a shared online community amongst museums, parents, teachers, scientists, experts and most importantly students.

Museums become the hub for in person activities, instead of museums trying to individually create exhibitions, they are created through a network of museums all working to the same educational standards and curriculum. Instead of each museum working to separate standards and curriculum, the curriculum of the schools is shared by the museums and museums work in partnership with one another to design and build exhibitions.

Exhibitions are then shared amongst museums, so museums are always changing. Superintendents of schools, teachers and students are aware of the educational content before they visit the museum.

Still the museum is serving a different role than the school, the museum is an informal place for exploration and discovery of the formal education at school.


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