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First post, or How to Have Hope for the Future

January 22, 2009

 Over at Museum 2.0, Elizabeth Merritt articulates in a guest post what I’ve been trying to say about the good that could/must come out of this painful economic period — how it sucks but will surely make things better by forcing us to evaluate what matters and to try new things — not just for art but for everything. To eliminate the inflated, the fluffy, the pointlessly hip…then my optimism gets lost as I express my disillusionment with the current cultural landscape as I see it. Merritt says it in an urgent, positive, much less jerk-face way:

“But everything now points to a profound shift in the economic, demographic, political, social and technological environment in which we operate. I think we need to encourage museums to be more opportunistic—try lots of new things with relatively small investment of resources, knowing that most of them will fail and learning from those that succeed. Maybe we need to encourage experimental start-up museums to try entirely new ways of operating, accepting that many of them might close if their approaches don’t work out.”

Certainly we’ve all got change on the brain these days. I want so much to see our cultural institutions change for the better, to take risks, show passion, and become even better places for user-directed learning and creativity. In general, I think people see that the kind of change and innovation Merritt alludes to are seriously necessary in all sectors. It’s an opportunity for creativity to thrive in new arenas.

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