IMA Annual Conference
2020 Irish Museums Association Annual Conference
Reimaging the Museum
22 - 23 February 2020, Athlone
The museum of the past must be set aside, reconstructed, transformed from a cemetery of bric-a-brac to a nursery of living thoughts. The museum of the future must stand side by side with the library and the laboratory. Smithsonian curator George Brown Goode, 1889
In recent decades there has been a major shift towards a user-led philosophy within museum practice. How can we encourage and drive this culture change from within our institutions, and also adapt to the changing cultural context in which our institutions exist? Is it time to reimagine the place of the museum and its functions and who will shape that vision?
More than ever, museums are directly engaging with topics of social change. Does this signal a shift in museums’ identities and roles? Is it a nimble response to public demand? Or is it a strategic evolution toward a future concept of what museums could and should be?
From high-level strategy to on-the-ground implementation, this conference will seek to explore what are the attitudes, partnerships and collaborations that can drive development and redraw the museum’s boundaries. How we plan to navigate the accelerated levels of change around us while also maintaining our commitment to positive aspects of our historical legacy.
Goode’s call for museums to evolve into a more relevant, approachable, contemporary resource for the public are, to a certain extent, unrealised. By exploring what museums can be and what are the barriers to us achieving this, we pose the question: as we look towards ‘Ireland 2040’ what will the museums of twenty years from now look like?