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SELECTED ISSUE
Attractions Management
2016 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Next Steps

Show Report

Next Steps


This year’s MuseumNext European conference in Dublin, Ireland, was one of its most successful yet. Tom Anstey was there for AM

Tom Anstey, Attractions Management
James Davis, Google Cultural Institute ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
MuseumNext European conference in Dublin, Ireland ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
MuseumNext European conference ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
Michael John Gorman, Science Gallery ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
Shannon Darrough from MoMA’s digital media team ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
The MuseumNext programme involved tours and workshops in various venues across Dublin ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT
The MuseumNext programme involved tours and workshops in various venues across Dublin ALL PHOTOS: MUSEUMNEXT

Drawing museum delegates and officials from all over the world since 2009, the MuseumNext event shines a light on the future of museums and how today’s museums are adapting to an ever-changing climate.

One of the highlights of this year’s event in Dublin was a talk by James Davis from the Google Cultural Institute. When the Institute opened its doors in 2001, its goal was to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.

Davis addressed a packed Mansion House to talk about the Institute’s growth, the new products it has launched, such as Google Cardboard, and offered a glimpse at what they have in store next.

Following his talk, Davis told Attractions Management that the Institute is just at the start of its journey. As accessibility increases, he says, so will interest in arts and culture.

“I think digital culture is heading to much bigger audiences,” Davis says. “One of the compelling reasons to have digital cultural experiences is that if you’re interested in something the other side of the world, that might be an obstacle for you going to see it. However if it’s available directly from your pocket, then it’s extremely accessible to you.

“We’re absolutely convinced that the global audience for culture will increase because of people having access to cultural organisations all around the world and as a result I think and hope that physical attendance will increase,” he says.

“It’s something we’ve begun to see anecdotally. If you get a larger audience interested in this topic – for example, introducing people to a particular museum for the very first time – some of them are going to go to that museum when they weren’t beforehand simply because they hadn’t heard of it. That’s the direction that the Google Cultural Institute is going.”

Second Livestock
Google has developed many interesting technologies, but it has never created anything as outlandish as VR for chickens. It’s a concept that Michael John Gorman believes can spark interest in science and start a debate within a museum setting.

Speaking at MuseumNext on his last day as CEO of Science Gallery International, Gorman detailed several unique concepts from the institution, which he says can open up conversation at the boundaries between science and art. The VR chicken project, known as Second Livestock, was the most intriguing.

“I think it’s a wonderful example of a project that provokes you and makes you think about what kind of future we want to live in,” says Gorman. “The idea is that battery chickens or battery hens could feel like free range chickens in VR. It’s great because it brings you into that space of conversation about what kind of world and what kind of industry we want to have. It’s a conversation provocation.”

Non-museums
The conference concluded with a roundtable discussion about issues that affect the museum sector today. One topic was non-museums – brand houses such as the new Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, for example – moving into the museum space.

The panel – made up of National Museums Directors’ Council policy and projects manager Katie Childs; Fiona Ross, founding director EPIC Ireland; Ngaire Blankenberg, who acts as European director and principal consultant at Lord Cultural Resources; and Shannon Darrough, who leads the Department of Digital Media at New York’s Museum of Modern Art – discussed how the sector should react to brand homes effectively stepping on its territory.

“We’re all competing for people’s attention on that Saturday afternoon,” says Darrough. “As more and more people enter this field there’s more and more stuff to take up our time. I think it’s something we all have to learn, support and embrace. It will be challenging though. At MoMA, we’re lucky enough to be a museum that has such a great collection and reputation, but for other places it could be tough.”

MuseumNext returns later this year when the event comes to New York on 14-15 November with two days of curated presentations on the theme of Transformation. The event then goes to Australia for the first time in February 2017, with museums and galleries from around the world coming together to highlight best practice, discuss the latest trends and think about what’s next for museums.


Originally published in Attractions Management 2016 issue 2

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