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The Short Term Future—CFM 2011

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

I’m going to use this first blog post of the New Year to share a preview of the themes CFM will focus on in 2011. Based on the trends we monitor through Dispatches from the Future of Museums, your feedback on our forecasting reports, participant contributions at forecasting workshops, (and a careful reading of the CFM horoscope), we’re going to pay particular attention in the coming year to:
• Continuing the exploration of Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums, investigating how the museums can reach a broader and more diverse segment of the American public. I look forward to sharing stories of how various museums are responding to AAM’s call to action as well as reporting on what AAM is doing to help meet this challenge.
• Plumb the complex relationships between museums, food & community—probing how museums can contribute to the national dialogue about food equity, health and nutrition, and how museums can use food to build connections with their own audiences. (See this post for a story on this theme.)
• Begin to explore the future of education and the role museums can play in a reshaped educational landscape. While you’ve given us huge props on AAM’s initial forecasting report, Museums & Society 2034, you told us loud and clear we goofed in not addressing the complex and massively important trends in this topic.
• Establish mechanisms to foster innovation and experimentation in museum operations, in order to discover methods and strategies that will help museums thrive in the future. This is one of CFM’s mandates, and this year we’ll start experimenting with ways to support and recognize innovative practices.

In addition, at the AAM Annual Meeting in Houston this spring, artist Tracy Hicks will challenge conference attendees to think about how natural history museums can help shape the future world, and what natural history museums themselves may look like in the future.

With your help, I look forward to exploring these topics through posts on this blog, videos on Voices of the Future, exchanges of scanning hits and resources on Twitter and (as funding allows) more in-depth participatory formats such as web events and in-person convenings. Please write and let me know if you want to become involved in any of these issues—do you have stories to share, ideas to spread, resources to help? And best wishes for a great 2011!

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  1. Checking out and working with Sakai have spurred my interest in how museums might explore online education further, including possible collaborations with academia. Per my FB post, Einztein looks to me like a developing repository for uncurated online curricula. What are the implications for museums of this and like services? For universities to leverage obsolete online courses to promote those still active? For HR to vette & suggest appropriate courses as a means of cheap professional training/staff development? Until/unless cloud providers such as these build a credentialing process, how big is this market? Should museum professionals formally volunteer to be beta-testers?

  2. It's unfortunate that AAM clashes with SPNHC this year – I imagine that many of our colleagues in natural history collections would be fascinated by Tracy Hicks' vision for the future. Any chance of getting him to guest blog for CFM?

  3. Chris,

    Rewording this: I would be glad to blog some for CFM but if so would like some interplay in the process. Some discussion around this thought process as it evolves into the May installation would interest me. A one sided thought process while making a helix doesn't make sense to me. So I would like the freedom to walk a delicate line around the piece as it evolves, stopping and discussing various aspects that catch the interest of the CFM blog members.

  4. I am excited about the topics you outline. I'd be interested in Tracy's ongoing exploration and in Bruce's query about Sakai. I'm so enjoying my learning experience with Sakai – led by a great instructional design coach at UDel – and can see how it could be a way for those wanting to design their own learning could really be engaged.
    For example, I'm learning Russian on my iPod – cool but not nearly as cool as an engaging program through Sakai. I'd be thrilled to be able to create my own learning program about natural history using Sakai and natural history museum resources combined.

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