Museum Futures beyond the 2020 Crises: A Transatlantic Conversation
The multifaceted health, social, political, and economic crises of 2020 have hit museums with great force worldwide. Closures and hygiene regulations make it difficult for them to fulfill their core tasks, with potentially serious consequences for communities, education systems, and cultural heritage. A third of U.S. museums are afraid that they will have to close for good. Calls for the rescue of collections are being issued, and some institutions have even begun to sell pieces from their holdings.
Although the situation in Germany is not quite as dramatic as in the U.S., funding for museums there is drying up too. Meanwhile, the growing reach of anti-Semitism, racism, conspiracy theories, and disinformation campaigns are increasingly threatening the democratic foundations of our societies, thus presenting museums with further challenges. And all of this has come at a time when museums were already facing fundamental, transformational changes that even call into question what museums actually are. How have American and German museums responded to the once-in-a-lifetime events of 2020? Our planned online panel discussion at the end of this turbulent year will consider these challenges, but also, in some cases, potential opportunities for the future on both sides of the Atlantic.
In particular, we would like to discuss the following aspects with eminent American and German museum experts and historians: How can museums operate when they are closed to the public? How are massive budget cuts affecting the museums’ work and the cultural landscape more generally? How have museums kept up with collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and educating in 2020? What unusual or innovative digital approaches are being developed? What long-term consequences are we facing with respect to the future of memory cultures, museum collections, and historical research in museums?
German Historical Institute