What does the museum of the future look like?

Andrea Simpson

MuseumNext, a global conference about the future of museums, is coming to Australia this March and they’re bringing the brightest minds in the industry with them.
What does the museum of the future look like?

Image: MuseumNext Conference. Supplied.

The international conference MuseumNext is coming back to Australia on 19 March for three days, featuring vigorous dialogue, ideas and workshops exploring the future of the world’s museums in the digital era.

Conceived in 2009, the idea for MuseumNext started as a reaction to the rise of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

‘I was concerned about the way museums, with their “top down” approach, could remain relevant in a time of massive digital change,’ said MuseumNext Founder, Jim Richardson.

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The digital disruption in the wider cultural sector spurred Richardson’s idea for openness and sharing of thought within the museum industry.

‘I think generally museums navigated that change well by becoming more responsive to their audiences, more open and more creative,’ he said.

A meeting of international minds, the conference is designed to link great thinkers and creative innovators in the museum sector across the globe, and provide space for the exchange of ideas.  

‘That might be artists linking with galleries, designers making connections with museums, or cultural professionals from around the world discovering new ways to collaborate.’

Creating Impactful Art Experiences

Richardson said significant topics such as Indigeneity in today’s museum, catering for children and teens, and the intersection between art and technology, can impact significantly on museum culture.

Richardson said the conference’s structure will allow delegates to lead the conversations. ‘Our biggest role has been in bringing people together who might never otherwise have the opportunity to meet.’

Secure a ticket to MuseumNext Brisbane

One conference highlight this year will be the participation of neuroscientist Tedi Asher. ‘I’m really excited to bring Tedi from the Peabody Essex Museum in the United States to the conference. She’s doing incredible work with neuroscience to measure how to create more meaningful experiences for museum visitors by applying the latest brain science to art,’ Richardson said.

Asher’s role of Neuroscientist in Residence at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is believed to be the first of its kind, with the Residency a way to explore the idea of using a scientific lens to enhance the visitor engagement.

Asher explained, ‘We draw on findings from the neuroscience literature to inform our design strategies for creating art experiences. As all experience is a product of brain function, we hypothesise that learning more about how the brain works will allow us to generate more engaging experiences.’

Some of the questions that drive Asher’s research focus on, ‘how visual attention is allocated in a museum setting; how environmental cues and context impact our behavior, affect, and even physiology; and the role that emotion plays in guiding attention and forming memories.’

MuseumNext provides an opportunity to exchange ideas. Image supplied.

Other special guests at the Brisbane conference include Junia Jorgji, Chief of Design at Canada’s largest art institution, the National Gallery of Canada.  The Gallery is home to a collection of more than 65,000 works of Canadian, Indigenous, European, contemporary, international and American art.

Jorgji will discuss her work, including redisplaying the Museum’s national art collection.

‘Art history in Canada is complex and rich. It spans thousands of years, from the earliest pieces created some 14,000 years ago, to the first contact between the European settlers and the Indigenous people,’ Jorgji explained.

‘Therefore, a museum-wide cross-departmental initiative was put in place to bring together four major collections.’

At MuseumNext, Jorgji will illuminate the process her team devised to create a single narrative from the four diverse collections.

MuseumNext Program

Last year’s Australian conference, held in Melbourne, attracted a record 350 delegates from 13 different countries. Brisbane’s conference is anticipated to be equally well attended.

MuseumNext Brisbane opens on Monday 19 March 2018 and runs over three days, ending Wednesday 21 March. The program features a broad array of talks, workshops and exhibition tours, with daily highlights including:

Monday

The first day of the conference sees delegates undertaking a range of tours, including visits to iconic Brisbane institutions. Delegates can Visit The Cube, take in a quick fire tour of Robert Smithson at the UQ Art Museum, attend Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives, and more.

Tuesday

The second day of the conference allows speakers to share their concepts and experiences. Speaker Tedi Asher explores a different point of view in her talk, Art Meets Neuroscience; David Perkins will illuminate his thoughts on engaging young people in his talk, Avoiding the cringe when catering for teens, and Dr Niels Wouters and Rose Hiscock will explore the collision of arts and science in, A New Digital Reality.

Wednesday

The final day of the conference sees speakers and delegates discussing topics including the intersections between agriculture, science and artistic practices; the partnership based approaches some galleries are undertaking, and how art can connect multi-faceted narratives.

To secure a ticket to MuseumNext Brisbane visit: www.museumnext.com

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy