Powerhouse Museum.  Photo: Meredith Foley.

Benjamin Sutton, The 6 Issues That Will Guide the Future of Museums, Hypoallergenic, 20 February 2015

What does the future hold for US museums? A new report from, appropriately, the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) — a project of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) — identifies six trends that will shape the ways institutions do business, engage viewers, handle their collections, and renovate their buildings in the years and decades to come.

The 2015 edition of the CFM’s TrendsWatch report hones in on the open culture and data movements, consumers’ heightened awareness of ethics issues, personalization, climate change and rising sea levels, wearable technology, and the slow culture movement. Its author, CFM founding director Elizabeth Merritt, analyzes how these trends are affecting society at large, zeroes in on the ways they’ve impacted museums and on examples of successful adaptation, and offers advice for how institutions can use these lessons to inform thinking and decision-making. The range of issues is incredibly broad, covering everything from how visitors’ biometric data collected from wearable devices could drive museum programming to the ethical implications of accepting board members from industries that run counter to an institution’s mission.

Merritt’s conclusions and questions at the end of each section are illuminating and fascinating to ponder. On the issue of open data, she suggests:

Museums already hold their collections in trust for the public, both from an ethical and a legal perspective. Should the same principles apply to associated data? In that case, building digital infrastructure to support data sharing is as fundamental as creating exhibit galleries and collections storage facilities.

Read more here.

Download the full 2015 Center for the Future of Museums TrendsWatch report here