MUSEUM 2050 Dispatches

Updates from M+

Diane Wang

It’s been a whirlwind of activity as we’ve come back into the offices here at M+. It’s been a pleasure to see everyone’s faces. Now that we’re able to hold meetings again, it feels like there’s a little bit of renewed electric energy in the office as we work towards our museum’s opening. The serendipity of being able to run into someone and have an offhand conversation to generate ideas has been something I think we’ve all sorely missed and now, we’re all raring to go.

High on everyone’s minds (and mine) is how new post-COVID-19 behaviours might persist. I find myself oscillating between theories of a forever-changed normal versus a temporary situation where people will bounce back from. And there are a million levels in between with subtle nuances that might have a large impact on the role of digital — not just for museums but for the world.

Before COVID-19 rapidly transformed our lives, there was a growing movement that challenged technology monopolies, asking for accountability and ethics in design. Post-COVID-19 with social distancing restrictions, digital technologies have now become more essential, connecting us across globally of course, but even within the same country and same city. This, of course, is a highly complex and critical topic. Behaviours in various situations might vary much more widely than they previously did. Will visitors prefer to use their own devices, download material and share personal data and information, or will they utilise communal devices in-gallery where they can participate anonymously? Will visitors continue to watch and participate in talks online, or will there be a reversal of interest as societies turn back to offline creative hobbies like sourdough baking? A myriad of factors to consider.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that everything is subject to change. Perhaps what it is, is a reminder that we cannot remain complacent and rest on the successes of the past—we must look forward, be adaptive and flexible. Despite the intentions of best-laid plans.

About the Author:

Diane is the Manager of Products at M+, a new museum of visual culture that is currently under construction in Hong Kong. The Products team looks after the development of digital experiences online and in-gallery and actively explores the intersection of art and technology, expanding the museum’s programming and activities.

About the Series:

Museum 2050 has always been about bringing people together, through our communities shared passion for museums and researching institutional development. As the world slowly, and carefully starts reopening, we are checking in weekly with various members of our community to share their personal reflections, anecdotes and musings about how they and their institutions have been operating in the face of this pandemic. In these incredibly difficult times for all, we hope that these brief vignettes from around the world bring us closer together, and remind us that even when the world stops and museum doors close, we still persevere.