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MUSEUMS… SO WHAT?

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Flickr Credit ~brandondoran MUSEUMS… SO WHAT? Robert Stein, Dallas Museum of Art @rjstein


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IMAGE OF MOON


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Immaculate Conception - Velazquez


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Coronation of the Virgin – Rubens


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We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.   September 12, 1962. President John F. Kennedy at Rice University in Houston, TX.


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If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space. President John F. Kennedy 12 September 1962.


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Flickr Credit ~atrid MUSEUMS are under pressure


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FINANCIAL SUCCESS


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Flickr Credit ~andyhay ATTENDANCE


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Flickr Credit ~fotodispalle RELEVANCE


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Museums are caught in a tug of war between impact and entertainment


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Flickr Credit ~presta EDUCATE ENTERTAIN


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Flickr Credit ~presta EDUCATE ENTERTAIN Unfortunately for many museums’ social missions, visitors indicate that the quality of an organization’s “educational experience” matters relatively little to overall satisfaction. Entertainment vs Education: How Your Audience Really Rates The Museum Experience – Colleen Dilenschneider (colleendilen.com)


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PETER SINGER


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“… it seems clear that there are objective reasons for thinking we may be able to do more good in one of these areas than in another.” Peter Singer on supporting the arts vs. global health Good Charity, Bad Charity, August 10, 2013. The New York Times PETER SINGER


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Quoting from an argument advanced by moral philosopher Peter Singer, for instance, [Gates] questions why anyone would donate money to build a new wing for a museum rather than spend it on preventing illnesses that can lead to blindness. “The moral equivalent is, we’re going to take 1 per cent of the people who visit this museum and blind them,” he says. “Are they willing, because it has the new wing, to take that risk? Hmm, maybe this blinding thing is slightly barbaric.” Financial Times, Richard Waters, November 1, 2013. MUSEUMS… SLIGHTLY BARBARIC


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WHAT MAKES A MUSEUM GOOD? Flickr Credit superamit


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WHY ARE WE SO BAD AT PROVING OUR IMPACT? Flickr Credit ~hadock


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IMPACT MUSEUMS ARE IDEALLY EQUIPPED FOR SOCIAL


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MUSEUMS CAN BE CATHEDRALS FOR CULTURE


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MUSEUMS ARE PLACES TO THRASH OUT BIG IDEAS [Museums] have become cathedrals for a secular culture, storehouses of collective values and diverse histories, places where increasingly we seem to want to spend our free time and thrash out big issues. We put our faith in few traditional institutions these days, but the museum is still one of them. Museums in a Quandary: Where Are the Ideals? Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, August 26, 2001


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Flicker ~draphotography MUSEUM PEOPLE BELIEVE THIS


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Flicker ~draphotography BUT THE PUBLIC DOESN’T We’ve dawdled around too long with a small vision and failed to inspire them


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Issues of low or no priority for museums: Fostering a sense of community Helping the vulnerable Providing a forum for debate Promoting social justice and human rights PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF – AND ATTITUDES TO - THE PURPOSES OF MUSEUMS IN SOCIETY A report prepared by BritainThinks for Museums Association (Museums 2020 vision)


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The study goes on to assert that the public holds museums in an esteemed place of trust, but would rather have them stick to caring for collections and providing entertaining (but educational) experiences for our children. PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF – AND ATTITUDES TO - THE PURPOSES OF MUSEUMS IN SOCIETY A report prepared by BritainThinks for Museums Association (Museums 2020 vision)


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Houston, we HAVE a problem


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For all our laments about losing relevance – we’ve failed to pitch a big enough idea to inspire the public and ourselves to great change. Flickr Credit ~hadock RELEVANCE IS FLEETING


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MUSEUMS NEED A MOONSHOT


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Flickr Credit ~christopherbrown GAPS ARE FORMING IN SOCIETY THAT CANNOT ULTIMATELY BE SUSTAINED


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To solve the world’s big problems we need to get out of the BOX


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Flickr Credit ~photohannah COULD MUSEUMS BE A CATALYST FOR THAT CHANGE?


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Flickr Credit ~photohannah COULD YOU BE A CATALYST FOR THAT CHANGE?


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Flickr Credit ~mediotanque GLOBAL POPULATION is growing by 80m people each year


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Source http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/153596/


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Flickr Credit ~fab05 70% OF THE GLOBAL POPULATION WILL LIVE IN ONE BY 2050 CITIES Source: Guardian Cities, Jan 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/jan/27/guardian-cities-site-urban-future-dwell-human-history-welcome


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Flickr Credit ~cgpgrey INCOME INEQUALITY No society can be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of its members are poor and miserable Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations


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1% OF THE POPULATION OWNS 46% OF THE WEALTH Source: Oxfam, “Working for the Few”


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85 RICHEST OWN AS MUCH AS THE POOREST 50% Source: Oxfam, “Working for the Few”


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The simple story of America is this: the rich are getting richer, the richest of the rich are getting still richer, the poor are becoming poorer and more numerous, and the middle class is being hollowed out. The incomes of the middle class are stagnating or falling, and the difference between them and the truly rich is increasing. The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2012.


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US CHILD POVERTY RATE IS AT A 20-YEAR HIGH http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/child-poverty-us_n_6054958.html


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This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown Oxfam, “Working for the few” Jan 20, 2014.


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Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust French. 1753-1817 The Harp Lesson 1791 The fourteen-year-old Eugene Louise Adelai?de de Bourbon Orle?ans (1777-1847) Madame de Genlis Madamoiselle Pamela Daughter of Louise Philippe Joseph de Bourbon, Duc d’Orle?ans (1747-1793)


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Philippe Joseph de Bourbon, Duc d’Orleans (1747-1793)


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Eugene Louise Adelaide de Bourbon Orleans (1777-1847)


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Feicite Ducrest de Saint-Aubin (1746-1830) Madame de Genlis


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Eugene Louise Adelaide de Bourbon Orleans


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Louis Philippe I, King of the French – 1830-1848


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Flickr Credit ~cgpgrey SOCIAL ISOLATION We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time. The ties we form through the Internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind. But they are the ties that preoccupy… Sherry Turkle, MIT professor and author of Alone Together THE CHANGING NATURE OF FRIENDS


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I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process. Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and author of You Are Not a Gadget THE CHANGING NATURE OF FRIENDS


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Flickr credit ~cosmic_bandita 35 percent of adults older than 45 are chronically lonely, an increase of 25% compared to a decade prior Roughly 20 percent of Americans—about 60 million people—are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness. In 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant. Is Facebook Making Us Lonely. The Atlantic AN EPIDEMIC OF LONELINESS


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Flickr Credit ~bionicteaching Death from suicide is now more likely than dying in a car crash or from cancer. Dan Diamond. Stopping the Growing Risk of Suicide. 2014


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Flickr Credit ~nanophoto69 Loneliness is not just making us sick, it is killing us. Loneliness is a serious health risk. Studies of elderly people and social isolation concluded that those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely. The increased mortality risk is comparable to that from smoking. And loneliness is about twice as dangerous as obesity. Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Loneliness is breaking our hearts, but as a culture we rarely talk about it. Jessica Olien – Slate.com “Loneliness Is Deadly LONELINESS IS DEADLY


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Flickr Credit ~cgpgrey POLARIZING IDEOLOGY If you want to go fast – go alone. If you want to go far – go together. Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole, Smithsonian National African Art Museum


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Source: DW-NOMINATE Scores of the House and Senate http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/02/13/polarization-in-congress-has-risen-sharply-where-is-it-going-next/


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FRANKFURT MARCH, 2015 Germany – protests against austerity measures (March 18, Frankfurt) http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/18/europe/germany-european-central-bank-protest/ Protesting the opening of the headquarters of the European Central Bank


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BALTIMORE April, 2015


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DALLAS, TX MAY, 2015


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K.1.2014.82 Syria The “Homberg Ewer”, 1242 Brass inlaid with silver 15 1/2 ? 8 1/2 ? 8 in. (39.37 ? 21.59 ? 20.32 cm) The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art


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Polarization of opinion along ideological, racial, gender, and class lines; exclusive social structures separating rich from poor and majorities from minorities; a sense of individual disempowerment; and the overwhelming nature of many of society’s problems are all factors contributing to this sense. Perhaps most fundamentally, the crosscutting nature of today’s complex issues often places them outside of the traditional structures and settings, such as civic organizations, labor unions, and political parties, which have served in the past to organize civic discourse. Americans for the Arts, 1999


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MUSEUMS NEED A MOONSHOT


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EMPATHY /`empaTHe/ noun The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


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There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit.  But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; … we live in a culture that discourages empathy.  A culture that too often tells us our principal goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained.  A culture where those in power too often encourage these selfish impulses. Senator Obama at the 2006 Commencement Ceremony for Northwestern University http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2006/06/barack.html#sthash.4ql0gZhs.dpuf They will tell you that the Americans who sleep in the streets and beg for food got there because they’re all lazy or weak of spirit.  That the inner-city children who are trapped in dilapidated schools can’t learn and won’t learn and so we should just give up on them entirely.  That the innocent people being slaughtered and expelled from their homes half a world away are somebody else’s problem to take care of. I hope you don’t listen to this.  I hope you choose to broaden, and not contract, your ambit of concern.  Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all of those who helped you get to where you are, although you do have that debt. It’s because you have an obligation to yourself.  Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation.  And because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential – and become full-grown. Senator Obama at the 2006 Commencement Ceremony for Northwestern University - See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2006/06/barack.html#sthash.4ql0gZhs.dpuf EMPATHY DEFICIT There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit.  But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room. As you go on in life, cultivating this quality of empathy will become harder, not easier.  There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care.  You’ll be free to live in neighborhoods with people who are exactly like yourself, and send your kids to the same schools, and narrow your concerns to what’s going in your own little circle.  Not only that – we live in a culture that discourages empathy.  A culture that too often tells us our principal goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained.  A culture where those in power too often encourage these selfish impulses. Senator Obama at the 2006 Commencement Ceremony for Northwestern University http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2006/06/barack.html#sthash.4ql0gZhs.dpuf


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EMPATHY Recent research shows a steep drop in self-reported empathy measures among college-age students. In a study of nearly 14,000 student, 75% of them rated themselves as less empathetic than the average student 30 years ago. Multiple studies link the increase in social isolation as a key factor resulting in lower empathy scores. What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic Jamil Zaki, Dec 23, 2010. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care IS CHANGING


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Even after controlling for age, race and education, we found that participation in the arts, especially as audience, predicted civic engagement, tolerance and altruism. Ranallo, A. B. Interest in Arts Predicts Social Responsibility: Study University of Illinois at Chicago. August 16, 2012. CULTURE CREATES BETTER CITIZENS


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The potential of art to create indelible images, to express difficult ideas through metaphor, and to communicate beyond the limits of language makes it a powerful force for illuminating civic experience. Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts EMPATHY


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Begin with art, because art tries to take us outside ourselves. It is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere and context so conversation can flow back and forth and we can be influenced by each other. W. E. B. Du Bois EMPATHY


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BALTIMORE April, 2015


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EMPATHY Is empathy the killer app for museums?


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MUSEUMS CAN BRIDGE THE GAP


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Just 7 years after Kennedy’s speech in Houston, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon


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What if museums could help to solve any one of these problems in the next 7 years?


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If this history of our culture teaches us anything, it is that a changing society cannot be deterred. These changes will go ahead, whether we join in them or not, and they are one of the great adventures of all time, and no museum which expects to be the leader of other museums can expect to stay behind in the race for impact and relevance. President John F. Kennedy 12 September 1962. Adapted for Museums, @rjstein June 2, 2015.


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A EULOGY FOR ROBERT FROST If sometimes our great artist have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him


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Music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor his spirit, commemorate his courage, and reaffirm his faith in the triumph of the mind Leonard Bernstein, 1963


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THANK YOU! @rjstein Please read the original Museums… So What? article as a part of: CODE|WORDS: Technology and Theory in the Museum Project https://medium.com/code-words-technology-and-theory-in-the-museum/ @CODEWORDSmuse


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