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Thoughts on our Future

Posted By Rachel Mohl, Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thoughts on our Future

A Summary of the AAMC Conference’s Keynote Panel

By Rachel Mohl


It’s a daunting task to think about the future, but three brave speakers at the AAMC conference addressed this challenge in the keynote panel titled Looking Forward Ten Years: What is the Museum of 2021?  It this time of economic difficulty and cultural uncertainty, their talks gave me hope for the future of museums.


Paola Antonelli began by comparing curators to geishas, which is a fairly accurate description.  However, as she explained, we are geishas with a noble purpose.  According to Antonelli, museums should serve as a role model and cultural inspiration for public audiences by being environmentally responsible and working for the common good. Her most important point was that museums need to establish metrics to prove their value in society.  She set very big goals for museums, and I would love to hear her thoughts on how curators can work to accomplish them.


For me, Linda Shearer gave the most inspirational talk of the entire conference.  She spoke about Project Row Houses, an endeavor that brings art and so much more to underserved communities.  By converting shotgun-style houses condemned for demolition into art spaces, this project creates safe places in a low-income neighborhood in Houston.  I was truly impressed with how she has used art as a catalyst for change.


The final speaker, K. Anthony Appiah, linked the future of museums with advancement in technology.  He stressed access to objects, rather than ownership, through the use of technology.  In many ways, all of the speakers promoted the same idea through different approaches.  They all connected the future of museums to these institutions finding ways to engage and reach diverse audiences. 

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