What Will The Museum of the Future Look Like?

by by by Catherine Grenier & translated from the French by Jordan Carter

illustration by by Annika Finne

The definition of museum:

The 20th century museum of fine art was at once a museum, a generator of exhibitions and art-related events and a publishing house. In general, it was outfitted with a documentation archive, a library, a coffee shop and, oftentimes, cinemas and performance spaces.

Should some of these functions be further developed or eliminated? If so, which?

In France, are there still distinctions that remain between the museum, regional contemporary art collections and the art center? Are these valid distinctions?

Should the museum of the future appropriate new features? If so, what?

Should the museum of the future become or host a university? An art school? An educational institute for curators? Why or why not?

In what manner should museum collections be constructed? Centrally? Connected?

Can you imagine a museum without a collection? Devoid of a permanent collection for routine display?

Can you imagine a museum without walls? A nomadic museum? A virtual museum?

What impact will the Internet and network culture have on the museum of the future?

Will there be a cosmopolitan museum, or a museum of universal domain? What countries would participate? What type of cultural space would it facilitate? Would it have to conceive its own unique museum model?

Is the Western model of the museum being altered by globalization? How so? Does globalization solely affect museum content (the collections, the programming), or the general conception of the museum as a whole?

The museum and the public:

The 19th century museum was a space of study and teaching, serving primarily the purposes of artists, students, and amateurs. The 20th century museum sought to attract a broader and more stated objective of democratizing culture at the risk of a politics of “ratings.” What should the museum of the future offer to the public? Should the expansion of public participation be the museum’s top priority?

Can you imagine a museum open to the universal public? A museum with a target public? A museum with no public participation?

Should museum programming be directed by the objective of reaching a large public? Only for certain exhibitions?

Should the museum practice a form of cultural politics in which public programs are targeted towards specific demographics? Only for certain exhibitions?

Should the museum further develop its educational activities? In what sense? Should it pursue the specialization of educational programs for target groups (children, teenagers, communities, etc.)?

Could you imagine a museum without established teaching methods?

Are artists and scholars an important target audience for the museum? Or are they primordial figures?

Are the requirements of the specialized public and the general public compatible? In all cases? Only for certain types of programming and activities?

Should the public participate in the conceptualization of the museum? A definition of its activities? In the implementation of its programming?

Is the primary function of the museum to entertain? To educate? To question? To testify?

Does the museum have an experimental feature, as was desired in the 1970s? What kind?

Should the museum be a mirror of the times? Should it seek to accelerate the times? Should it reflect on the past?

Can/should the museum display offensive works or positions?

What are the respective roles of aesthetics and history in the museum?

Should the museum strengthen the presence of history? Should it be a factor in the formation of the collection? Should it play a role in the development of information resources?

Concurrent with the rise of multidisciplinary museums, which were designed in the 20th century to incorporate disciplines other than fine art, was the emergence of specialized museums (museums of architecture, design, comics, photography, etc.). Should the museum of the future be more of a museum or an interdisciplinary network for the arts?

In the case of multidisciplinary museums, should their scope of accepted disciplines be broadened, or should it become more finite in order to cater to the specificity of the visual arts?

Should museums pursue the implementation of new institutions abroad (Guggenheim model) or in the same province (Centre Pompidou Metz)? Should they create a new concept for distributing collections under the propriety of their brand (Louvre-Abu Dhabi model)? Should they adopt mobile architectures (Centre Pompidou model)? Or rather, should museums focus on partnerships with existing local structures or projects? Or should the museum of the future adopt various models of development?

Should the museum be reformed regularly? Why or why not?

The museum and the artist:

What do artists expect from the museum? What does it actually provide them?

What does the museum expect from artists?

Does the museum have a responsibility towards the artist? Or vice versa?

Is the museum’s responsibility towards the artist greater than its responsibility to the public at large? Is it less important? Are they comparable?

Should the museum participate in the training of artists? Indirectly? Directly?

Should artists participate in the conception of the museum of the future?

Can you conceive of a new work relationship between the museum and the artist?

How should the museum ensure the lasting quality of the artist’s work?

Is it necessary for the museum to protect the artist’s œuvre? To ensure the continuity of the artist’s estate?

The museum and the private:

What type of relationship should the museum maintain with the art market? What must the museum avoid in its commercial activities?

Should the museum accept the financing of the art market (galleries of the artists)? To what extent?

What type of relationship should the museum maintain with sponsors and patrons? What should be avoided in their interactions and exchanges?

JORDAN CARTER B’12 était stagiaire au Musée Beaubourg.