This article in today’s New York Times takes a good look at how botanic gardens are adapting to several trends:
- the growing appeal of the “locavore” and “slow food” movements.
- increase in number of women in the workforce (and fewer at home spending obsessive amounts of time gardening)
- decrease in interest in flower gardening among younger cohorts, and a swelling interest in growing their own food.
- concern about fighting obesity (especially as it affects children)
- increased value place on being “green”. (Ironically, sustainability and environmental impact are big issues for public gardens as they have traditionally relied heavily on conventional pesticides and herbicides and are intensive users of water.)
So events that used to be garden festivals or flower shows are morphing into food-and-garden events; BGs are tapping into people’s interests in sustainability, healthy eating and family activities; there is more emphasis on edible gardens and maybe less on exotic (and hard to maintain) ornamentals.
Now, where will it go from here? Which of these trends will accelerate, change direction, peter out? What disruptive events (perhaps a scare about local production and food safety) could derail this future? And how will these trends start affecting other kinds of museums as well? (Notice I say how, not whether!)
If your museum is changing its operations to adapt to these trends, I would love to hear about it–write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.