Added to Medium, December 14, 2017
As 2018 approaches, I have been thinking more about what I hope the museum field will accomplish in this upcoming new year. What I hope for 2018 as a museum professional is to have an improved work environment in the museum community and continue our work to have more inclusive accessible museum programming. We need to continue to remember we are a changing society and our practices need to reflect our communities wishes to remain relevant.
Museum professionals especially throughout social media such as Twitter have been thinking about what they hope for 2018. On Twitter, there is a hashtag being shared: #museumtrends2018. There has been a lot of discussion about what the future of museums can be, and I hope we can make the changes and adaptations needed to continue to collaborate within our communities and around the world.
American Alliance of Museums magazine, Museum, has recently discussed about the future of museums in their most recent edition, Museum 2040. I previously discussed this edition in a previous blog post “Creating an Environment-Friendly World with Museums” which focused on the museums encouraging our communities to work towards a more environmentally friendly world. While this edition of Museum magazine was written as if we are in the year 2040, the information presented in the magazine can inspire museum professionals to take actions that would help create an environment-friendly community. Our world continues to change, and museums as well as any institution also need to recognize this change and learn how to change with it.
We need to consider changes we need to make on a personal and professional level as well to help ourselves be in a healthy environment. Many museum professionals have gathered together to think about what we want to work towards in 2018. Seema Rao posted a survey last month on Twitter asking museum professionals what trends we are most likely working towards for 2018.
According to the survey results, the themes for 2018 trends in museum education are equity and inclusion, workplace issues, and visitor-centered experiences. Some of the trends in the equity and inclusion include fostering relevance, social justice, and museum ethics. Workplace issues in the survey results include money, jobs, and stress. The visitor-centered experiences shared in the results include digital experiences, skill development, and student and family programs.
When I read about the survey results, I was not surprised to see these main themes and trends for 2018. Each of these themes are especially important for the museum professional community who continue to find ways to make their institutions relevant to our continuously changing society. We are recognizing that our society is more politically correct than when museums first appeared in our nation, and we understand that we need to reflect this in our staff, board, and museum practices.
It is particularly hard for many museum professionals to stay in the field in its current work condition. Since we are discussing this more in recent months I hope for our field that we continue this discussion and work on making the changes we need to fulfill our personal and professional expectations for our museum work.
Our work in the museum also needs to adapt to our visitors and potential visitors needs for an engaging museum experience. As technology continues to make advances, museums try to adapt to these changes by creating digital programs that allow more opportunities to interact with museums’ collections and narrative.
The survey continued with more specific results that revealed we are most likely not going to see immediate results within the next five years.
Rao pointed out that museum education in 2018 would like to offer visitors a high-quality, inclusive experiences but feel real challenges in order to do so like funding and training. Also, survey respondents indicated that museum educators do not foresee that the problems in the field will improve in the next five years since there were real concerns about balancing technology and collections-based experiences and there were also real fears about challenges for the future in terms of funding and staffing.
Current conditions in our field such as the lack of proper funding and training do prevent us from providing high-quality and inclusive experiences. We continue to argue our case for museums needs to have appropriate funding during Museum Advocacy Days, and by continuing our discussion on these days in Washington D.C. each year we increase awareness as well as inspire measures to increase funding.
I do not believe that all of the challenges we face as museum educators will be resolved overnight. If we continue to plead our case and continue this discussion, we would be able to work towards having better experiences in addition to sufficient funding and staffing. Since we do not know how much we can accomplish at this moment, we also see what survey participants say could be trends in 2022.
Museum educators, according to Seema Rao, pointed out in the survey that there was a greater disparity in themes for the 2022 trends since predicting so far out is more challenging. For 2022, the museum education field would perhaps be facing possible obsolescence, increasing equity, developing engaging experiences, and changes in technology.
It is hard to predict what may happen a few years down the road but I can see our museum community continue to work towards making museums more relevant in a changing society. I look forward to finding out what we accomplish in the upcoming year and I hope that museums continue to work towards relevant programming as well as better working environment.
What do you hope for 2018? Do you have New Years resolutions for yourself professionally?