The Future Museum Essay

The Future Museum

            I love museums of any kind. I am a big fan of art, science, and sports. Many people also like museums of any kind and enjoy art, science, and sports. There are many museums that specialize in these three cultural artifacts Moreover, in fact many art lovers like to take a day or two of their vacation to browse in a couple of museums; I love to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and I hope to visit the Lovre in Paris, the Seattle Art Museum, known as the SAM, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York someday.

            Museums are the keepers of great art from paintings to sculptures and from photographs to even television programs. Museums have been around for a very long time and for a very long time  there have been museums of all kinds from national history museums to museums that specialize in sports history and sports memorabilia. Therefore, it seems as if museums are here to stay; however with technology advancing day after day it’s hard to say just what the museum of the future will look like both inside and out. It is even possible that very soon we will not have to travel outside of our homes to visit museums at all thanks to the World Wide Web. There might even be virtual museums in the future as well; therefore, people will be able to experience museums as if they were in the museums themselves from the comfort of their recliners.

            The purpose of this paper is to explore what the museum of the future will look like both inside and out. This paper will explore what issues will be at the forefront for future museums and it will talk about the changes that will be created for the museum of the future. Moreover, the paper will examine what objects can be placed in a future museum. Finally, the paper will discuss creative ideas for new museums.

            In order to answer the above questions it is first necessary to find out the answer to another important question involving today’s museums. The question regarding today’s museums that needs to be answered is whether or not there is a future for old fashioned museums. The good news is that there seems to be a bright future for old fashioned museums. However, in order for the old- fashioned museums to be relevant in the future they will have to keep up with the ever changing technology landscape. According to Joel Garreau, old fashioned museums seem to going in the same direction as some bookstores and some libraries. In fact, half of all independent bookstores have gone out of business and the bookstores that are still around have changed. They have paid more attention to their couches, cafes, and flavored coffees (Garreau, 2). In short, bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble and Boarders are redesigning bookstores as experience places instead of only places where books are held and purchased. In addition, libraries are also attempting to become more than places to check out books and other materials by having the internet so that people can do research. Also, libraries are making sure they don’t go the way of dinosaurs by having programs that patrons will enjoy such as lectures about love and forgiveness, lectures about the history of tea and its healing properties, and teaching library patrons how to make quilts.  Now that we know that there will be a place in the future for old fashioned museums as long as today’s museums keep up with the ever changing technology landscape, let’s look at a possible museum visit in the future.

            Museums in the future will be locations where art and technology come together to create a beautiful harmony. In other words, museums in the future will be a combination of art and gadgets. It is very important that both museum professionals and museum lovers understand that technology will play a big role in museums of the future. According to Peter Samis, “when art sits alone in a gallery there is many essential elements missing. The artist isn’t present, the artist’s studio isn’t there, and the time in which the art piece was designed and created is most likely gone as well; technology allows us to recreate and explore these three associations” (qtd in Schwarzer, 1).

            Devices that will certainly be in museums of the future involve people’s hearing. These technological devices are called MP3 players or audio guides. According to Schwarzer, the newest innovations in art museums are handheld devices that are called audio guides. Audio guides have become as commonplace in art museums as curators and docents. Audio guides allow visitors to view a particular piece of art such as Vincent Vangough’s Starry Night and simultaneously listen to information about it; this interpretive technique helps visitors retain what they have learned about a piece of art. Moreover, many museum visitors respond better to aural stories and other visitors learn best when they have a chance to physically manipulate some object. It may come as a surprise to most museum goers, however, for many years both children’s and science museums have had an advantage over art museums because they create hands-on exhibits that allow visitors to either touch or manipulate objects. Today’s and tomorrow’s technological advances can add this interactive element to the pleasure of viewing art (Schwarzer, 2).

            It would be great to get if the art museums of the future created interactive exhibits. It would be wonderful to be able to pet a goat in a Marc Chagall tapestry or to feel the texture of a sunflower that was painted by Georgia O’Keefe. If there were interactive artwork in museums then, art lovers and museum visitors alike could get a better idea and feel of what exactly the artist’s vision was when he or she created a piece of art. In addition, it might be interesting if the curators of art museums of the future create exhibits that allow museum visitors the chance to go inside a piece of art. If museum visitors are allowed to virtually tour paintings and sculptors then, they would be able to get inside the artist’s head; that would be a future vacation worth taking.

            It must be stated again that no matter what the museums of the future look like either the inside or out it seems as if museums will not go out of style as long as digital technology is a part of tomorrow’s art museums. In fact, according to Schwarzer, all museum professionals will have to understand how to communicate information in new and fresh ways that will work nicely with the new technological devices (Schwarzer, 6). Despite the fact that there are new technological devices such as audio guides there are still many unanswered questions regarding how well art museums and digital will mix and match together. This is due to the fact that according to Schwarzer, it is common knowledge that people visit museums in order to socialize with their friends and family (Schwarzer, 6). Therefore, there is another issue that museums will face in the future. This issue asks the question whether new technological devices help or hinder peoples need and want to socialize with each other during their museum visit. In addition, it also seems that another issue that will have to be addressed by museum professionals involves whether all the new technological devices will damper visitors enjoyment of art because of there complexity. It seems almost certain that museum professionals will have to see how they will best balance the need for technology in order for museums to evolve and the enjoyment of art for art’s sake. In other words, the question must be asked how much will technology help and hurt museums of the future.

            In addition to those questions for museum professionals there is also a very real concern that public museums will be gone in the future. Public museums may give way to private museums as the keepers of the world’s art. According to Burrichter, the days when important art collectors were happy to only donate their treasures to public museums are history. In today’s art world, German art connoisseurs are leaving their precious and priceless artwork to their own country’s museums instead of lending their art collections to museums all over the world (Burrichter, 1). The trick will to create an idea so rich and fantastic that art connoisseurs will be persuaded to loan their artwork to public museums again. Rest assured because there might just be a way of making art connoisseurs to go toward public museums again when considering where to place their art collections.

            Museum professionals can use the art process that is called the Variable Media Initiative in order to help them either get or to keep great collections of artwork in public museums. According to Jon Ippolito, exactly what part of a piece of artwork is variable depends on the piece of art. He goes on to state that it could be very straightforward aspect of the artwork such as size, or it could involve the content of the piece, or it could be the piece’s composition and its value. Moreover, Ippolito explains the idea of his Variable Media Initiative:

Recognize when a potential acquisition has a variable medium.
Contact the artist, if possible in order to see if the art piece has an “expiration date.”
Interview anybody that was involved in the creation of the original work to get as much information as possible about the all the variable mediums that could be the artwork.
Get anything such as notes, props, and moving images so that future museum professionals can recreate the art piece.
Be sure to make this documentation is available to anyone interested in restaging the work (Ippolito, 2-3).
Tapetries are art pieces that seem the right art pieces to participate in the Variable Media Initiative. This is due to the fact that according to Jacob Teshuva, tapestries have flourished up to and through the 20th century (Teshuva, 4). In addition, since tapestries have very vibrant colors it seems as though digital technology could aid in bringing out even deeper hues of blue, red, green, and yellow. In addition, since Seurat’s Sunday on the Grand Jatte needs to be rejuvenated using both color and imaging (Herbert, 214), it seems like an ideal art piece for the Variable Medium Initiative. It would be nice to view this art piece through the eyes of the artist.

            Writing this paper on future museums has given rise to some ideas for new museums of the future. In the future, there could be the museum of reality television. In this museum visitors would be allowed to interact with reality show contestants so that museum visitors can assist the contestants during their time on television. In addition, there could be a museum that is dedicated to all extinct animals. Visitors to this museum can learn about polar bears and bald eagles by using audio guides.  Also, a great museum to have in the future would be an interactive food museum. This interactive museum will allow visitors to listen to a lecture about the history of the food and visitors could both touch and eat the food. The good thing about this museum would be that each month or so visitors could experience a different cuisine.

            Many people like to travel all over the world. Some people like to travel due to the beaches, the food, or the culture that they find in different locations. Museums are a vital part of the world’s culture because they house society’s past and present objects. Museums will be a part of the future but how will they be part of the future. Museums in the future will have to be able to mix technology and art together well. The museums in the future will be filled with digital devices such as audio guides. In addition, there will be more hands on exhibits in museums of the future. In short, if art museums don’t with digital devices well then, they will become extinct in the future.

Works Cited

1.      Burrichter, Felix. “Are Private Museums the Future of Art?” Men’s Fashion np (2008): 1.

2.      Garreau, Joel. “Is There a Future for Old-Fashioned Museums?” Updated, 7 October 2007 <http:// www.washingtonpost.com Cited 19 October 2008.

3.      Herbert, Robert. Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004.

4.      Ippolito, Jon. “The Museum of the Future: A Contradiction in Terms?” Updated June 1998 http://www.tree.org/ippolito/ writing/wri_ cross_ museum. html. Cited 19 October 2008.

5.      Schwarzer, Marjorie. “Art and Gadgetry: The Future of the Museum Visit.” <http:// www.aam-us.org  Cited 19 October 2008.

6.      Teshuva, Jacob. Marc Chagall: Tapestries London: Kohn Press 1999.