Museums seem like gloomy places, filled with musty antiques that one cannot distinguish from the other. They seem to have faceless, nameless artifacts that could be remotely interesting if anyone took the time and effort to showcase them in such a manner. That is why museums these days are steeped in stasis, with most of them falling into inconsequence, agreed members of a panel discussion on The Future of The Museum, organised during Art Chennai 2014.
The conference had several well-known names in museum circles speaking about the contemporary relevance of museums and why they need to embrace change. “Institutions that do not embrace change will fail. Museums that do not try and continue to re-invent themselves will be ignored. That will be their road to extinction,” said Richard Burton from the British Museum, London.
Amid calls for change and a need for greater relevance of the modern-day museum, the panel also concurred on the fact that there also needs to be public engagement if museums are to reap their rewards. “They need to feel that they’re getting something in return, when they visit a museum. The option to do nothing does not exist any longer,” reiterated Burton.
Pramod Kumar A J, managing director of EKA Resources, a museum consulting company added, “We have a lot of collections in our museums, but there is no management. The future lies not in any of the government museums, but in private hands. That is the only way forward.”
The panel also saw the participation of Kavita Singh, an associate professor of art history at JNU and Priya Pall, an independent art consultant.