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The future of regional museums: results of the “Museum: The Power of Place” foresight session have now been published

The Foundation presented possible ways for museums to grow and evolve in the modern socio-cultural context

(en) Текст новости

Conclusions were drawn following a foresight session by the Moscow School of Management in Skolkovo, which was held as part of the “Museum: the Power of Place” initiative, bringing together 96 representatives of regional institutions from 21 Russian cities. 

The foresight session was inspired by a large-scale study of changes in the cultural strategies employed by cities, conducted by the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences that was commissioned by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation in the early stages of the "Museum: the Power of Place" project. The experts focused on how museums could create a comfortable environment and make the regions where they operate more attractive. The foresight session helped answer this question through a series of discussions, analyze the environment surrounding modern museums, identify key challenges, and come up with optimal development trajectories for modern museums.

The Foundation's General Director Oksana Oracheva noted, “Today culture is in the public spotlight. And that is no coincidence, for culture is what creates the conditions for creative development, it stimulates training, and it offers new innovative solutions to traditional problems, such as new approaches to creating museum collections. The importance of the social function of cultural institutions is beyond doubt. Today's museums are not just institutions for preserving cultural heritage for future generations. They are also venues to bring together a diverse range of resources to impact small- and medium-sized businesses, offer unique knowledge, and form a regional identity while developing the local community and contributing to solving local social problems. It is critical that museums be given every opportunity to assume new social roles in their communities.”

Urbanization today is changing city spaces and the cultural environment. It is also changing museum visitors, who are no longer content with being passive observers and instead seek new ways to engage with the museum. Against the backdrop of these transformations, it is easy to identify the main challenge facing the museum community: the ever-widening gap between what society expects from museums and the resources available to the museums to meet these new demands. Quite often, museums lack flexibility to adapt quickly and create offerings for different kinds of audiences. Instead, just like in the past, they continue to emphasize preservation of the cultural heritage, but today, in order to succeed, museums need to learn to operate following completely new formats.

Given the trends, risks, and opportunities in today's setting, the experts offered several options for how museums can develop in the future:

  • Urban co-working, where museums begin to offer co-working spaces for their local urban communities, acting as discussion venues where different audiences can meet and address topical issues and focus on urban development.

  • A center for discussions, where the museum serves as a forum where government or business representatives can engage with the local community and the local community can make their position known.

  • An amusement park: in this format, the museum serves as a provider of entertainment services, operating in a new economic model, where new experiences are regarded as the key offering.

  • Verification: in this format the museum offers cultural and social expertise services and serves as a competencies center that not only stores old artefacts but also offers research and translation services.

  • A digital temple: in this format the museum studies and stores cultural heritage using digital formats and tools to make knowledge more accessible.

In real conditions, museums can combine these formats, depending on the specific, inherent features of each institution. Nevertheless, it's important to ensure museums have enough room for self-determination, and describe the possible formats and identities associated with each one of them. This is a step towards further development of the forms, means, and concepts associated with museum management.

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