The Future of the Museum: 28 Dialogues by András Szántó
Capturing the mindset of a generation of museum leaders at a moment of accelerated change.
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As museums shuttered during the 2020 novel-coronavirus pandemic, New York-based author and cultural strategist András Szántó conducted a series of virtual conversations with international museum leaders. At this pivotal moment, the directors spoke candidly about the challenges and untapped potential of art museums.
The Future of the Museum reflects a rapidly growing, changing, and varied museum landscape in which dynamic experimentation is happening worldwide, with institutions in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Australia often leading the way in developing new models. It is a sector experiencing a moment of reckoning about inequality and social justice, pressed to achieve more diversity in staffing, governance, programming, interpretation, and collections. Meanwhile, the pandemic has exposed the underlying weakness of many museums' temporary-exhibition-driven business models, as well as the limits of public and private support. The dialogues reveal the diverse ways in which the search is on for new sources of income, new ways to engage the public, new ways to run institutions.
Art Basel provides a platform for galleries, giving them access to an international audience of collectors, museum directors and curators. The shows attract people with an appreciation of modern and contemporary art who experience Art Basel as a cultural event.
28 dialogues with museum leaders from 14 countries on 6 continents. What emerges from the series of in-depth conversations is a composite portrait of a generation of museum leaders working to make institutions more open, democratic, inclusive, experimental and experiential, technologically savvy, culturally polyphonic, attuned to the needs of their visitors and communities, and concerned with addressing the defining issues of the societies around them. The dialogues offer glimpses of how museums around the globe are undergoing an accelerated phase of reappraisal and reinvention. Each of the twenty-eight conversations in the book explores a particular topic of relevance to art institutions today and tomorrow.
"The interviewees had many visions of the future museum. What is sure is that the old model, as a storehouse of artefacts, is pivoting towards a different, and more active role in many of today's issues."
"International museum leaders are confronting manifold challenges in the wake of Covid-19 and innovating in six principal ways, writes András Szántó. The year 2020 has presented museum leaders with challenges none could have expected. As the saying goes, let's not let this crisis go to waste."
"The writer, researcher, and arts consultant András Szántó interviews the world's leading museum directors and curators about the trials they faced in 2020 and how they see art institutions evolving in the years to come. Here are excerpts from seven of those 28 conversations."
"Soon after the pandemic struck, New York-based arts writer and cultural strategy consultant András Szántó reached out to museum directors around the world. The result was an anthology containing interviews with 28 of them. The book gives us hope that the future of museums in China and elsewhere might be something to look forward to."
"Attempting a difficult synthesis, the goal of transforming museums into great social machines certainly emerges. Community, listening, integration, democracy, minorities, polyphony, diversity, pluralism, conversation, narrative are the words most used in their definitions of museum, which many would like, among other things, to be much more open to the needs of artists."
"Impressive collection of interviews with the current generation of museum directors compiled by András Szántó over the summer – yes, this summer – and already published by Hatje Cantz, an amazing achievement of instant publishing. It helps illuminate the recent row over what a museum is, and should be."
The Future of the Museum
Charles Saumarez Smith - Writer, curator and art historian.
Talks & Events
Art Basel Conversations
Artists Working with Museums Today
This panel explores some recent examples of controversies involving artists and museums, as a path to sharing best practices for both sides.
Virtual Roundtable: The Future of the Museum
Learn about some exciting approaches to inventing and reinventing the museum with two back-to-back conversations. Link.
The Artnewspaper Podcast
Is the future of museums in Africa?
Conversation with Sonia Lawson, the founding director of the Palais de Lomé in Togo and András to explore the future of museums and African institutions' central role in it. Link.
"As one reads though the dialogues, a distinctive and more or less unifying philosophy emerges about what an art museum is and what it should aspire to be... If the late twentieth century ushered in a liberating pluralism in art and cultural expression, it can only be hoped that the twenty-first century will do the same for the institutions of art. This sense of open possibility would be the ultimate guarantor of the enduring strength and relevance of the museum form." –András Szántó