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Report from #FutrChat

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

Last Thursday eighty-three futurists and museumers participated in #futrchat on Twitter, co-hosted by the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) and CFM. The tweets flew fast and furious (over 600 of them!) as our sectors exchanged views on museums and how they may change in the next 25 years.

A few highlights of the chat:

Participants suggested trends that may transform museums, including:

  • Augmented reality/metadata
  • High resolution 3-D printing
  • Rise of web-based lifelong learning media/content. professionals specializing in place-based experience design
  •  Pop-up culture, including pop-up museums  
  • People adopting & adapting museum content, as illustrated by the samizdat site Nipples at the Met. One participant noted this trend “humanizes” museums.

Some tweeters offered observations on how these trends might interact:

  • “Mobile devices+crowd funding= donate in the gallery. “I love that work. I’ll drop $5 to conserve it!”
  • “aging population+ lack of $ resources = museums becoming more inclusive 3rd places in communities”
  • “economic pressures + online access to big ‘global’ museums = perception that local museums no longer worth funding?”
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Taking the opportunity to pick some talented minds from other fields on an issue of pressing importance for museums, we invited tweeters to name a source of funding for museum they think will INCREASE in the next 25 years. (Though as @CygnetUpdates commented, “love that we’re all RTing the question while searching for an answer :)”)

We did get a few suggestions, including:

  • Technophilanthropy (Tech millionaires endowing museums)
  • Energy Companies
  • Crowdfunding
  • The health care industry, which may invest in museum programming to help support aging populations

Moving from the practical to the aspirational, we asked “how might changes in your community drive change in what museums choose to do, and how they do it?” A selection of responding tweets includes

  • “End of the traditional work hour= 24-hour museum? Servicing different patrons at hours most convenient?”
  • “More social needs needing to be fulfilled on a local level – museums step up and provide more services to community”
  • “I think fragmentation of communities by value systems/interest areas… could challenge museums in building strong diverse base”
  • “2037…Millennials won’t be going to museums to learn, we’ll expect museums to come to our computers…will they?”

We also used this opportunity to explore what museums can do to become the “go-to” third place for people to hang out. The answers repeatedly cited:

  • Comfort: chairs and other seating areas being particularly important
  • Food and drink
  • Quiet places, but also
  • Places where it is ok to be noisy and have heated conversations
  • Wifi
  • Opportunities to do stuff (draw, craft, make)
  • Being welcoming to extended families (nannies, babies, nursing moms)
  •  Lots of social events of various kinds

We asked what technologies/trends are influencing our attitudes towards physical place v. virtual experiences (see the transcript for some interesting answers) and wrapped up with the question “If I could start one new museum for the future, it would be the…” Some of my favorite suggestions were

  • “A street art projection system based– not physical- just walk the city and old layers appear”
  • “Like the store (sic?) #Story the museum theme would change. Art + artifacts about love/jealousy/trust/happiness/etc.”
  • “I think I’d just create a blank museum, invite 5 museums to launch pop-ups in the space.” (Which elicited the enthusiastic tweet “That’s a cool idea!”)
  • “The museum of lost and used futures – Jetsons, highways, and walks on the moon.”
  • A “playground for the mind”. Hands on exhibits. Art. Nature. Books and discussion corners. Good design. Relaxed atmosphere.

Various fascinating side conversations developed about what constitutes “real” in a digital world, how museums can facilitate dating (and snogging), and the potential role of robots and holograms serving as personalized museum guides.

You can browse full transcript, and continue the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #futrchat
As one of the APF hosts, @jenjarratt, commented towards the end “Take-away: so much of our museum experience is about human comfort. Even high-tech discussions come back to couches.”

For me, the most important two take-aways for you blog readers could be:

  • Twitter is a great way to connect to people outside your usual circle of friends & colleagues. Mine the transcript for people you think said interesting, provocative things, go to their profile on Twitter to read more of their tweets, and decide whether to “follow” them.
  • Tweet chats are an interesting platform for these kinds of mixers. You might think about when this format would be useful to you in your work to brainstorm ideas, or introduce different groups to each other. 

So give it a try—and invite me to your next #chat!

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1 Comment

  1. Hi! My name is Ally Yusuf (@AllyYusuf_), and I am the moderator of #artsmgtchat, a Twitter chat dedicated to arts management professionals. I'd love to collaborate with the Center for the Future of Museums to host a chat. Let me know if you're interested – thanks! Here's the link to the #artsmgtchat blog:

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