Free webinar series on the future of museums

Six international speakers took part in a series of pre-conference webinars organised in the runup to the biennial conference MUZE.X Shaping Museum Futures, which will take place in October 2021. The recordings are available to watch for free online.

The list of speakers includes well-known international change-makers and visionary innovative thinkers. The project, spearheaded by the Department of Arts, Open Communities and Adult Education at the University of Malta, brought together people from around the world to discuss museum futures and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Watch the recordings.

Topics covered:

Nina Simon
Revisioning Relevance to become OF/BY/FOR ALL

The crises of this moment are challenging many of us to rethink how we lead, create, fundraise, program, and engage with audiences. If the pandemic is a portal (as Arundhati Roy puts it), where do we hope it will lead us? How can we reimagine and reinvent our organizations to be more relevant and inclusive? In this interactive webinar, Nina Simon will share concrete strategies to help your team re-vision your organization and your relationship with the communities that matter most to your future. You’ll leave the webinar with tools you can use to build a future of, by, and for your community.

Nina Simon is the Spacemaker and CEO of OF/BY/FOR ALL, a global nonprofit that creates digital tools to help civic and cultural organizations become more inclusive, relevant, and sustainable. Nina is best known for her seminal publications - The Participatory Museum (2010) and The Art of Relevance (2016).

Diane Drubay
How can Nature-Inspired Thinking Shape Better Futures? 

Overcoming a trauma is a long process which requires benevolence and modesty, but also certain skills and techniques which are unfortunately not innate to our times, nor even envisioned. In her presentation, Diane Drubay will use principles inspired by Life and Nature to show how museums can embody this transformation and accelerate it at the individual, local and systemic levels. These new principles are currently being deployed and tested online via the We Are Museums online community but also through various interdisciplinary research projects on the future of museums.

Diane Drubayis a long-standing member of the museum and innovation effervescence, a specialist in museum strategy but also an event curator, community builder, writer and artist. She is the founder of We Are Museums, the international platform of museum innovators and change-makers.

Alistair Hudson
Anti-Exhibitionism: The fall of the representational and the rise of the operational in museum culture

The Coronovirus pandemic has accentuated and accelerated the fissures that have run through modernity for over two centuries. The conceptual and physical architecture of Eurocentric capital-colonialism has seemingly revealed, beyond repair, its fault lines of racism, health and social inequality, economic surrealism and ecological depravity. 

Art and the museum as we know it have been complicit in this regime throughout the era of global industrialisation and, at its centre, the exhibitionary form has become a principle vehicle for the expression and implementation of power. 

In this webinar Alistair Hudson will argue the age of the exhibition is now ending; the blockbuster is now untenable, the exhibition is possibly dead.  Using examples from Manchester he will point towards a new ecology where the polarity of the museum shifts from one fixated with representation and the image, to one orientated more around social function, ethical aesthetics and emancipated usership – working not symbolically, but practically and positively beyond the frame, in and amongst the messiness of the world. 

Alistair Hudson is the Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil – an expansive international project and online archive that forms part of the Uses of Art programmes with the L’internationale confederation. Alistair is best known for his vision based on the concept of the Useful Museum. 

Kristin Alford
Generating resilience for museum practice in uncertain futures

2020 has been a year of seismic change, accelerated by the impacts of COVID-19 and building on political tribalism, social inequity and climate change. The ability to adapt to these shifts uncertain futures requires imagination, porous organisations and courageous leadership. This session will focus on the application of futures thinking to MOD. during 2020 and the lessons currently being applied as we shape our impact in a very different context.

Dr Kristin Alford is the Director of Australia’s leading the future-focused museum MOD. Her eclectic background includes engineering, human resources, marketing and science communications.

Seb Chan
Being multiplatform

In an uncertain time with an uncertain future ahead of us, museums are being asked to change - to be more representative of their communities, to be more transparent about the past and the present, to be more accountable. Other speakers in this series have focused on those critical changes, so in this session we will look at the other ask of museums - to better deliver their public value online. Online in 2020, though, is not what online meant in 2010, or 2000. New challenges and concerns around the ethics of technology platforms abound, and our sector struggles to retain the scant talent it has had in these fields - so what does it mean to 'be a multiplatform museum' in 2020?

Seb Chan is Chief Experience Officer at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne). Prior to this he led the digital renewal and transformation of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York (2011-2015).

Kayleigh Bryant Greenwell
Dear Museum, Don’t Be an Ally. Be an Antiracist.

As we consider how to give shape to the future of museums we must consider what is essential museum work. This presentation argues that museum work is cultural equity work. Utilizing a framework of what it means to be an antiracist vs an ally, this presentation discusses some of the ways racism manifests in museums and how to dismantle it. Highlighting the progressive work of a group of U.S.-based museum change-makers, this presentation sets a vision for measuring accountability and establishing equity as the driving force for all museum work.

Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is Head of Public Programs with Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery. In the wake of Covid-19 she leads an internal task force towards reopening strategies.