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09 Jul, 2009

Museums’ future lies on the internet

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Two titans of the British museum world, Sir Nicholas Serota and Neil MacGregor, last night sketched out their visions for the museum of the future.

Both said that the relationship between institutions and their audiences would be transformed by the internet. Museums, they said, would become more like multimedia organisations.

“The future has to be, without question, the museum as a publisher and broadcaster,” said MacGregor, director of the British Museum.

Serota, director of the Tate, said: “The challenge is, to what extent do we remain authors, and in what sense do we become publishers providing a platform for international conversations?

“I am certain that in the next 10 to 15 years, there will be a limited number of people working in galleries, and more effectively working as commissioning editors working on material online.”

The duo were speaking at an event at the London School of Economics in celebration of 60 years of the publisher Thames & Hudson.

Serota added: “In the past, there has been an imperfect communication between visitors and curators. The possibility for a greater level of communication between curators and visitors is the challenge now.

“There will be a big shaking-out – a discrepancy will arise between those institutions that grasp these opportunities and those that do not.”

Speaking about the ongoing controversy about the so-called Elgin Marbles, which has been refired by the opening last month of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, MacGregor said that the question of the sculptures’ return to Greece was “yesterday’s question. The real question is about how the Greek and British governments can work together so that the sculptures can be seen in China and Africa.

“But the Greek government has a clear position that their removal [from the Parthenon] was illegal and therefore this conversation cannot happen, which is a matter of great sadness.”

An ongoing revolution in the ability to transport museum objects safely around the world would also be key, he said. “Physical transportation is just as important as the internet.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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