The Knowledge Quarter and Lord Cultural Resources presented the event “Museums of the Future: Agents of Soft Power” on Monday 18th of April at this year Museum Next conference in Dublin.
Museum Next is an annual conference where professionals from across the sector come together to share best practice, network and get new ideas.
Museums are beginning to understand themselves as networked institutions of civil society propulsive soft power that can enhance the influence of their cities and empower local residents and visitors.
Soft power is the ability to influence via persuasion, attraction and agenda-setting rather than coercion and, in the future, museum professionals will increasingly develop policies and practices to address pressing issues like sustainability, gender equality and economic empowerment.
The panel discussion, in the format of a Pecha-Kucha style (20 slides, 20 seconds each , 6 minutes, 40 seconds in total per each speaker) had the opportunity to present the work carried out in different institutions across the world and how their work is exemplifies and develop the concept of soft power as it was initially spelled out in the Lord Cultural Resources book Cities, Museums and Soft Power.
The panel discussion included
• Miki Lentin (ML), Head of Corporate Affairs, British Library
• Ngaire Blankenberg (NB), Director, Europe, Lord Cultural Resources
• Monica O. Montgomery (MM), Co-Founder, Museum Hue and Action Director LatimerNow
• Lynn Scarff (LS), Director, Science Gallery Dublin
• Boris Wastiau (BW), Director, Ethnographic Museum of Geneva
• Joe Edwards (JE), Public Affairs Manager, British Museum
Speakers met a very engaged audience, among the many questions, the discussion ranged on how museums and cultural organisations can be agents of change in social justice, institutional structure, develop networks as well as sustainable models.
The event and the notion of soft power attract the attention of the press. The Irish Times quoted the Knowledge Quarter in an article on the future of museums.
In general, community engagement and inclusivity were certainly a predominant theme in this year conference programme. It was interesting to hear others organisations values and development plans for the future, amongst others, the CEO of Burning Man, Marian Goodell and the Chief Curator of the Museum of Tomorrow, Brazil Luiz Oliviera.