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Reasons for Optimism

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Excerpts from Deborah Stone, ‘Ten Reasons for Optimism’, 6 November 2014, ArtsHub

The upbeat theme of optimism brought 250 international museum professionals to Sydney this week for the Communicating the Museum conference. They shared good news for cultural industries.

1. Cultural symbols are valued.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron kicked off the conference to the oohs and aahs of international delegates taking in the view from the Utzon room over Sydney Harbour … ‘I love the fact that this conference is about optimism and it’s being held here because I do think the Sydney Opera House is, among other things, about optimism. The sense of Australia as a young country, bold and willing to give something impossible a go, is embodied in this building.’  …

2. Creative institutions matter more than they used to.

‘Reading the tea leaves’, Deputy Director, Dallas Museum of Art Robert Stein, identified global trends that indicate museums are providing new value in a world characterised by fast population growth; massive urbanisation; a growing disparity between rich and poor; and the increasing power of machines to take over roles previously occupied by humans.

In this environment Stein said museums have a greater civic value. ‘Culture creates better citizens. Museums remain a place where on equal footing we can meet with people who are different from us.’

Stein said the ‘big picture’ context of the museum allowed visitors to come to terms with a changing world. ‘Museums are places to thrash out big ideas.’ …

3. Museums meet human needs.

‘A museum is not a building, it is the relationship between content and its audience,’ Kingsley Jayasekera, Director, Communications, Marketing & Digital, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong told the Conference …

4. China is building 100 new museums a year.

The museum sector in China is booming: 1198 new museums were built between 2000 and 2011, an average of more than 100 museums a year.

The growth shows the world’s economic powerhouse is recognising the value of cultural institutions and is investing heavily – some $800,000 million in museums in the past decade …

5. Louvre Abu Dhabi takes Da Vinci to the desert.

… The Emirates are diversifying from oil and cultural tourism is a key part of that. The entire district of Saadiyat Island is devoted to culture and the arts including a Louvre, scheduled to open in 2015;  the Zayed National Museum, scheduled to open in 2016 and the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, scheduled for 2017.

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