Engage: The Future of Museums
Bevin Savage-Yamazaki in Education and Culture, Museums

Image © Gensler

Museums have the power to excite, educate, and enlighten. How this power should be used — and shared — is very much at issue in our increasingly pluralist society.

Museums today face both overt and subtle challenges: institutional missions must be negotiated with shifting demographics, evolving visitor expectations, funding realignment, and ever-escalating technologies. Ideally, this leads to a richer and more memorable visitor experience, and encourages visitors to become museum advocates.

The traditional model of the museum experience as passive observation is decisively shifting to active, interpretive engagement. Exhibits are no longer framed by expert appreciation; instead, they acknowledge the subjectivity of multiple perspectives. This emerging mode is particularly evident in the popularity of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations.

Museums are rethinking and reworking their spaces to promote deeper understanding of their collections and missions, greater interactivity, a fuller range of activities, and increased revenue stability.

In April 2014, Gensler launched a yearlong study of relationships between museums and their constituencies, with a focus on strategies to build and reinforce audiences. Roundtable discussions with influential museum leaders in Chicago, Houston, New York, London, Los Angeles, and Costa Rica explored how innovations in audience engagement are creating greater excitement, relevance and sustainability, and how these changes are rescripting the roles of museums in their communities. The roundtables provided an opportunity consider the current state and future of museum design.

Our next step was to issue an online survey, which went live this past week. The survey went to an array of museum and cultural professionals, in addition to our roundtable participants, to help us further distill our study.

This spring, our research team will host additional roundtables to review ongoing research, and we’ll publish our findings in April 2015. In the meantime, you can download our interim report.

Thank you to the following regional champions, who contributed to the research across the firm:

Image © Gensler

Bevin Savage-Yamazaki has for many years worked collaboratively with artists, she recently installed a series of large complex art installations for Chris Burden and Carsten Höller at the New Museum. Prior to working at Gensler she worked on the construction of contemporary art museum Dia:Beacon, in Beacon, NY and has worked with artist’s Vito Acconci, Leni Schwendinger and Dennis Oppenheim on various projects in Europe and the US. She recently spoke at the Mountain Plains Museum Association Annual Conference in Aspen, CO on re-envisioning museums to further audience engagement. Learn more about Gensler's Education and Culture practice by contacting her at bevin_savage-yamazaki@gensler.com.

Learn more about Gensler's Education and Culture Practice Area by contacting Bevin or Nina.

Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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