Some background on CFM. Note that museums typically plan with a 3-year horizon – while they expect to take care of their collections for all eternity. We want to encourage them to focus on the trough between three years and eternity – maybe 10 or 20 years into the future! The trends data we track generally falls into “STEEP” categories identified by professional futurists: Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, and Political.
Overview of big secular trends in the American population, which needs to be the backdrop for discussing any significant social institution (like museums).
Note narrow definition of “core museum visitors” and give credit to Reach Advisors.
Another recent survey (again by Reach Advisors) found that 97% or visitors to Outdoor History Museums are white. More than half were older (‘Empty Nesters” or beyond). Based on 5000+ responses from 13 museums in 2008. There is also a story about the lack of generational replacement (as they age they get less likely to participate, and the younger generation participates at a lower baseline rate). NOT fully illustrated here.
Show in order: 1) museums and public historians by gender (museums from 2009 ACS; PH from the joint survey conducted by NCPH, AHA, AASLH, AAM and others in 2008); 2) recent grads by gender (from IPEDS); 3) everyone by ethnicity; and then 4) the comparative numbers for all US population. Of course, the diversity of workers and audiences are interrelated and reinforcing; and I know that Laura will be talking about training and pipeline issues.
BIG SWITCH HERE to the contents of “TrendsWatch 2012: Museums and the Pulse of the Future.” This is our effort to give museums a manageable slice of the future while bringing together our weekly efforts to identify and compile external trends, new developments and innovations, and emerging challenges and opportunities for museums in the field. Most of the content comes from news items we spotted in 2011 and reported via our weekly set of email clips (Dispatches) or via the CFM blog. Wikipedia was built on an incredible pool of voluntary, distributed labor. Jane McGonigal notes that gamers spent 5.93M Years playing World of Witchcraft (that estimate is about 2.5 years old) – and many spend 40 hours per week. How can we harness that engagement to do our work? It’s a matter of tapping existing audiences, making new audiences, and bringing existing communities to the museum field. Game-based project from Finland (a game that helps transcribe primarily 19 th -century periodicals): Angry Birds meets CAPTCHA Citizen Archivist project from National Archives helped mobilize transcribers. Long tradition of citizen science, not just for field observations but also (in this case) transcribing itty, bitty labels on objects collected a century ago. The essential question here is, “CAN 5000 Strangers = ONE CURATOR” Challenges here echo larger challenges for (history) museums: coordination; reliability; ceding authority
SOME takes place largely or wholly outside the museum system: Note that the release of 1940 Census data crashed the Archives computers because so many amateur genealogists wanted access. “The Digital Diaspora Family Reunion [created by documentarian Thomas Allen Harris] aims to use the power of interactive media to create a movement to get African-Americans to reconsider and revalue their family photo collections.” SOME coordinated by history museums: Children of the Lodz Ghetto at USHMM (research on the more than 13,000 students who signed the Lodz ghetto schools album during the Jewish High Holidays in September 1941). People effectively adopt one of the children and then bring together scattered digital resources; an extension of the USHMM visitor experience.
Most striking example of PILOTS: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which already made a voluntary payment of $66,000 in 2011, was asked to pay more than $250,000 in 2012 and more than $1 million a year by 2016. Other threats: imposition of new fees (like utility charges in Chicago or New York) and taxes (like ticket taxes in Tacoma and elsewhere); challenges to tax deductibility of donations (from President Obama, among others); and ideological attacks on public support for nonprofits (and museums in particular) – e.g., from Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.). There is also the general issue of whether there are too many nonprofits, which was the topic for a panel at the Urban Institute earlier this month: “The vast and varied assembly of 1.8 million nonprofit organizations -- about 1 nonprofit for every 175 Americans -- faces a triple threat. From one direction comes reduced funding from government at all levels and diminished foundation grant making. From another comes harsh competition for corporate and individual donors. And from another comes an ever increasing demand for safety net and other services.” ERODING benefits of traditional nonprofit structures plus new OPPORTUNITIES: L3C = Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (also known as a benefit corporation)
This is an example of where technology collides with other cultural trends. People increasingly want (and expect) their educational and entertainment on the fly, as a seamless part of their other daily interactions, not BOXED inside the four walls of a museum. Ubiquitous mobile technology is both a reflection and a driver of this trend. In any case, museums have been exploring creative ways to break outside of their walls and reach new audiences (for example, the Inside/Out project at Detroit Institute of Art), or piggy-back on cultural trends like pop-up stores and food trucks (Kogi Korean BBQ at JANM; point out Youtube vid). The biggest pop-up of last year was the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a temporary structure built on an empty lot in lower Manhattan and designed to get people to think about urban space in new ways. Meanwhile, some of the most interesting explosions of museum walls have come from outside (yarn-bombers in Philadelphia and Southern California; graffiti artists inspired by the LA MOCA exhibit).
Here are some of our favorites: the crochet museum in California (old Fotomat booth; so portable it got blown over in a windstorm); SF mobile museum (curated by a professional as a geurilla operation; travels around SF collecting community stories via crowdsourcing and sharing visions of community); the Van of Enchantment is a converted RV that tours New Mexico carrying artifacts and materials from the state museums and monuments. The last one is an extension of older techniques, but with new twists learned from the food trucks (like tweeting current locations and reaching out “on the road” using social media).
At its best, the “pop-up museum” allows for experimentation – a way for museums to engage audiences with low barriers of institutional investment. Here’s an example from a history museum : San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society opened a pop-up exhibit in the Castro District in 2008-09 while searching for a permanent home. It received such a positive response from visitors and donors – plus local businesses and community leaders – that the museum was able to secure a permanent location in the same neighborhood, which opened in 2010.
Another relatively depressing trend, but with some cause for optimism! Old funding models are increasingly being called into question as the “traditional” mix of funding sources established in the generation before the 2008-9 economic crash no longer seem to hold sway. Donors are still giving to museums, but not as much as they did a few years ago. I know of many history museums (and other types) that just can’t find the funding for proposed exhibits and have been cancelling them. More museums are also relying on their own collections. CROWDFUNDING – again part of a larger cultural phenomenon (embedding giving in other activities – facilitated by the move towards digital currency ). Most powerful example of small-scale giving via mobile devices: in 2010, the Red Cross raised more than $32 million for Haitian earthquake relief via texting. (Other organizations have raised substantial charitable donations for disaster relief via ATMs and other unusual points of contact.) Trivial example from Kickstarter: The TikTok project raised just short of $1M on Kickstarter to fund its invention that turns an iPod nano into a wristwatch. But Kickstarter was also used to raise funds for an exhibit devoted to “Steampunk: History beyond Imagination” at the Muzeo in Anaheim, CA. Note that these Alt Funding projects also generate community, as they allow people to share their experience (via social media). [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame relied on Kickstarter to fund the restoration of signs from Woodstock!] The founder of Kickstarter claims that, this year, the site will raise more money for creative projects ($150 million) than the entire NEA budget (~$146 million). And Kickstarter is just one crowdsourcing site.
BUT ARE HISTORY MUSEUMS READY FOR THIS? According to an AAM survey, 13 percent of all museums were planning to introduce or expand mobile giving opportunities in 2011. But here are the results of another survey from just a few weeks ago, showing that history museums are the least invested in ANY mobile technology of the major museum types – including mobile-based giving.
HERE is a clear trend, not something that can be dismissed as a FAD (unlike, perhaps, Kickstarter – which may just become the punchline for a dot-com joke). Today, 1 in 8 Americans are older than 65. In 2034, the ratio will jump to 1 in 5. A 50% jump in the post-retirement population – except, they may not retire! Other ways to slice the numbers: at some point in 2012, the population of “older Americans” in the United States (aged 50 and older) will break the 100 million mark . The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double by 2040 . The expanding number of older people has already led some planners to distinguish between the “young old” (65-74), the “old” (75-84) and the “old old” (85+)—all with different needs. Two potential futures (and not necessarily complementary): Aging in Place (granny pod at http://www.medcottage.com/) vs. Museums as Places to Age (SFMOMA) For museums, the aging population represents a range of challenges, from accessibility (text size? ramps?) to attracting volunteers to the geographic relocation of facilities. Also represents a great opportunity in addressing the issue of cognitive impairment . A great local example is the SPARK! Program around Milwaukee (based on MoMA model): “Several museums serving Wisconsin residents are extending their cultural and historical collections to create meaningful experiences for older adults with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. The SPARK! project connects the museums with local partners in healthy aging to bring the model to the Midwest. The Alzheimer’s Association is assisting with training and support.”
Augmented Reality as a technology phenomenon (Horizon Report says it is a leading trend for museums!) but also as an extension of other efforts to make the museum a multi-dimensional experience (3D/4D/5D plus haptic feedback plus smell-o-vision). Some are simple triggers (QR codes), some create new interactions with artifacts or graphics (like the Owney stamp from the National Postal Museum), some interact with objects in the gallery space and essentially augment that space (this example comes from the national art museum in Krakow, Poland), and some provide augmented versions of historical reality “in the wild” (as in this example from the Museum of London). Does it represent a liberation of objects or another opportunity for technology overload ? Challenges: digital divide , a distraction from traditional museum spaces and activities, devaluing authentic objects. [another great example: the interactive cabinet of curiosities from the Getty] [technology on the horizon: Near Field Technology, which will not require anything as clunky as a QR or bar code!]
FINALLY We see signs that the U.S. is nearing the end of an era in formal learning characterized by teachers, physical classrooms, age-cohorts and a core curriculum—what some people call the industrialized era of learning . ( Perhaps appropriate that we end here at a conference devoted to the permutations and transformations of American capitalism .) But it’s still not clear what will replace this cluster of technologies. Top: a stylized vision of the current system – a prediction from the late 19 th century that actually came true (in significant ways) well before the year 2000. Bottom: “Home-schooled children at a class offered by the Center for Architecture Foundation in New York.”
Here are some of the signs heralding a transformation (or at least serious destabilization ): the rapid increase in non-traditional forms of primary education such as homeschooling; near record dissatisfaction with the existing K-12 education system; funding crises for schools at the state and local levels; growing gender imbalance in higher education; and proliferation of digital content and digital delivery platforms designed to transform the nature of classroom learning. [According to the Dept. of Education, by 2007 an estimated 1.5 million students were being homeschooled in the United States – up from fewer than 1.1 million students in 2003. In 2007 – the most recent year for national stats, 2.9% of all school-age children were being homeschooled.] I’m sure we’ve all heard that the Khan Academy and digital badges are going to replace traditional college instruction. The whole phenomenon of alternative credentialing from high school onward opens fascinating opportunities for history museums – something we can discuss, perhaps, later in this session! Photo on right from Indianapolis Children’s Museum – what we hope to see in the future?
THANK YOU for being so attentive during this double-time trot through the emergent future of museums!
Presentation at Organization of American Historians
Center for the Future of
Museums •Prod museums to look to the future with a longer time frame. •Find, interpret, digest and deliver trends data. •Help museums collaborate with communities/society to address needs. •Cultivate connections between museums and all sectors. •Encourage risk-taking and innovation.www.futureofmuseums.org @futureofmuseums
Trend 3: Takin’ it to
the Streets The GLBT Historical Society in SF went ... from a pop-up museum in 2008 to a permanent home in 2010 of the pop-up exhibitsource: from a Yelp review source: glbthistory.org