Suse Cairns expounds upon her most dangerous idea about museums in the coming year: The greatest threats to museums come from within. On the surface this statement may seem pessimistic, but I feel the best part of the essay comes when Suse highlights the positive potential for the sector moving forward:
This is what I believe. We, as a sector, are in a hugely opportune place right now. We are incredibly well connected to one another, and to ideas from within and external to our own profession. A real energy has started emanating at many of the conferences I’ve attended. We drink about museums together, we talk, we share, and we work.
Social media, conferences, and the generosity of the people who work within the sector make it ever easier to forge strong relationships beyond the walls of our institutions, and hopefully also within them, and to share knowledge and vision with one another. Indeed, they also ensure that there are more ways than ever to speak to our audiences and communities, to invite them to be a part of our vision too. And this all gives us a strong position to build from.
I couldn’t agree more. The astounding passion and creativity and genius of the museum professionals I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know just in the past several months is jaw-dropping.
However, Suse is right. Insularity is the antithesis of progress. We need to look outside of the museum fishbowl for inspiration, collaboration and corroboration if we are to truly effect positive change within the sector. Adapting to shifting environments — be they technological, artistic, cultural or economic — is crucial, and we need to be embracing the examples of our counterparts outside the cultural sector.
Alternatively, we should be telling the stories of our own institutions on more complex levels. We need to share not just our own work, but also the work of others in the sector. We should be remixing the work of others, both inside and outside of the sector, and allowing for others to remix our own work. Innovation comes from the open flow of information.
It’s a great time to be working in a museum. I look forward to sharing some exciting projects from my own institution, as well as others, in the coming year.