The Ongoing Transformation of the Museum

Renegade Tours

We love exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking when it comes to the wonderful world of museums. Recently, we read this fantastic article in JSTOR about how the purpose of museums is changing. Here is a summary our favorite pieces from the article, “From Being about Something to being for Somebody: The Ongoing Transformation of the American Museum,” visualized for you. 

Ongoing Transformation title slide

Ongoing Transformation - Museums are expanding public services rather than expanding their collections

Ongoing Transformation - The most fundamental change that has affected museums during the past half-century is the now almost universal conviction that they exist in order to serve the public

Ongoing Transformation - Museums can play a powerful role in bringing about social change

Ongoing Transformation - The museum needs to be a tool for sustainable social advancement

Ongoing Transformation - In the modern museum every exhibition should appeal to the general public

Ongoing Transformation - What constitutes a good museum?

Ongoing Transformation - None of those approaches took into account the museum's external impact on either its visitors or its community

If museums do not have the goal of improving peoples lives, what basis can we ask for public support?

Ongoing Transformation - Museums must have relevance to present-day problems that affect the quality of life here and now

Ongoing Transformation - Tomorrow's museums cannot be operated with yesterday's skills

Museum leaders need to articulate what they hope or expect their institutions to accomplish

Ongoing Transformation - Museum professionals need to focus and create new ways for the museum to interact with their communities

Museums workers generally must learn to relax their expectations as to why the public is visiting and what they may take away from it

Ongoing Transformation - The museum needs to be open-textured and adaptable as a destination

Ongoing Transformation - The emerging public service oriented museum must see itself not as a cause but as an instrument

Museums will find that being of service to their community will have benefits the old museum could not have imagined

Ongoing Transformation credits

Special thanks to Mike Madeja and Shaelyn Amaio, who helped us summarize this article. 

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