Having spent 10 years as a curator and researcher in the Royal Ontario Museum, and 13 years leading the Canadian Museum of Nature, and now having had a further decade to ponder the purpose and future of museums, I feel that regardless of whether I do understand what is needed or not, I can at least start the conversation.
The conversation should be in the real world, dealing with real-world issues. I invite anyone who is interested in thinking about the “museum” as an institution that can act as a leader in scientific, cultural, or historical-based political strategies or action planning, rather than an institution that merely stores, interprets, or reflects society as represented by the collections, to re-think the way your museum operates and interacts with your communities. Reshape your museum thinking from passive or reactive to proactive in the community and society at large, presenting solutions to large-scale societal problems that can be addressed with the unique attributes of your museum if it houses expertise from basic discovery to high-level education. Begin by bringing the museum and the community together to imagine how the museum and its strategic abilities of research, discovery, education, exhibitions, and serious fun can bring a positive influence on community and societal behaviour.
Your museum should be advocating and taking action.
Over the course of the next year in this location of the website, I will outline a manifesto for the future museum.