Past Program

May 16 - May 23, 2001

Museums in the 21st Century


Museums around the world are in a state of flux and ferment. Architecturally dramatic and daring new museums are being built. Museums are increasingly viewed in the context of tourism, with visitor numbers generally on the rise and greater attention being given to the needs and interests of more diverse audiences. Innovative technologies are being employed to extend the museum experience beyond the physical confines of the building. New private and public funding models are supplanting traditional models of patronage or state support. At the same time, museums continue to be confronted by issues such as the achievement of economic sustainability, the maintenance of social relevance, the achievement of quality in their programming, and the development of creative, effective and efficient leadership and management structures. Above all, commercial considerations seem to be moving ever to the forefront, and museums must decide how to balance their social, aesthetic, and cultural missions with increasing commercial pressures.


As museums change, grow, and evolve against the background of global democratization and commercialization, it is an important time for reflection and analysis on the cultural purposes of museums: why should they exist in the 21st Century, what should they look like, who are they for, who owns or influences them, who has access to them, how can they remain socially, culturally, and economically viable, who makes decisions about their missions, methods, and their future, and what should these decisions be? This session will bring together museum directors, curators, arts management professionals, cultural economists, museum patrons, cultural theorists, politicians, and representatives of philanthropic organizations and cultural ministries from around the world to explore these challenges and opportunities faced by museums in the 21st century.


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