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Finding the Future at #AAM2023

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
When the Hirshhorn invited guests for their 2020 gala to come “dressed as their vision of the future,” CFM Director Elizabeth Merritt was happy to comply. Perhaps she might reprise the outfit at the AAM2023 party?
When the Hirshhorn invited guests for their 2020 gala to come “dressed as their vision of the future,” CFM Director Elizabeth Merritt was happy to comply. Perhaps she might reprise the outfit at the AAM2023 party?

I’m taking a short break from prepping my materials for #AAM2023 to share a preview of what The Future will be up to in Denver.

For me the conference starts on Thursday, May 18, with the latest iteration of the “Diving into Strategic Foresight” workshop (9 am to noon). This workshop is my favorite engagement each year—I appreciate the opportunity to work in-depth with a diverse group of museum people to think about the implications of the news flooding our feeds, cultivate optimism, and plot strategies for creating futures we would like to live in. The workshop sells out each year, and as I write this post, there are just a few slots left is just one slot left. If you want to join the 2023 foresight workshop cohort, I recommend you snag your ticket right now. (Reminder–you can book this workshop for your own museum or conference through the Alliance Advisors and Speakers Bureau.)

Friday, May 19, at 11:30 am I’ll give my annual TrendsWatch presentation, exploring this year’s report (TrendsWatch: Building the Post-pandemic World) and sharing a few thoughts that did not make it into the text. This year we’ve reserved a REALLY BIG room, so no one will have to sit on the floor. (Sorry about that, 2022 attendees.)

I hope you stay for the discussion tables that follow the presentation, where you can work with fellow attendees to dive into the Future Workplace, the Partisan Divide, the Digital (R)evolution, and Repatriation, Restitution, and Reparations. I’ll provide discussion prompts and look forward to hearing your thoughts on how museums might make tangible progress towards building a better post-pandemic world.

My last session will be on Saturday, May 20, at 8 am, when I join Susie Wilkening of Wilkening Consulting to share breaking news from the Annual Survey of Museum Goers. If you get yourself to the Convention Center bright and early, you can get a preview of our 2023 data, including effective ways for museums to engender empathy and foster connection to humanity, bring together people with disparate views to promote a civic mindset, and rebuild museum visitation. After that I’ll head to the 10 am keynote by Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) a multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and “disruptor” who will explore how museums are representing the past, present, and future of Indigenous peoples. (Speaking of Indigenous futures, at some point during the conference I plan to skip over to History Colorado to immerse myself in Revolt 168/2180: Runners + Gliders, a futurist exhibit by Pueblo artist Virgil Ortiz. Maybe I will see you there?)

Between and around these presentations I look forward to catching a few sessions, chatting with attendees in MuseumExpo, and taking in the sights of Denver. Next month I’ll post my “Guide to the Future at AAM2023” with some recommendations for your personal futurist track at the conference. I’d love to hear what sessions you’ve already bookmarked for your schedule. Please share in the comments section below!

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