The Joker in the Museum Planning Pack

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

The fourth and final installment of TrendsWatch 2018’s scenarios of the future is now up on the web. Wild Times explores what might happen if fate deals our field an unexpected card: the loss of nonprofit status.

In this version of 2040, an America wracked by pandemic disease and financial collapse depends on nonprofits to provide critical housing, food security, employment training, and community health services. The bad news? Much of the support channeled to health and human service organizations was collected by stripping tax exempt status from other kinds of nonprofits…including museums.

I will quickly reassure you that this is a wild card scenario precisely because it explores a high-impact, low probability event. My brain trust suggested many candidates for our wild card, including earthquakes, cyberattacks, the collapse of global tourism. I chose this particular disruption because it raises issues many organizations should be confronting in any case. How can museums take a more entrepreneurial approach to financial planning? What pale versions of this story already exist today? And, perhaps most importantly, how can we ensure that museums are so valued in society, and their contributions so widely recognized, that this scenario goes from unlikely to impossible?

The compiled set of scenarios will be published as TrendsWatch 2018 before the end of the year, available as a free PDF download and in print through the AAM Bookstore. I look forward to helping you use this special Scenario Edition of our annual forecasting report to futureproof your organizational planning.

For now, take a few minutes to read the newest scenario, and think about how you would survive this improbably wild future.

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