Has the term ‘museum’ gone out of fashion?

The definition of a ‘museum’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘a building in which objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific interest are kept and shown to the public.’ But is this what museums really represent to people today, or do they now serve a very different purpose?

Some people still want a classic museum with lots of content and objects in simple displays, but others now prefer an immersive and interactive experience where they can actively take part in the moment and have history and events brought to life. Long gone are museums as dry repositories of the past, a Victorian collector’s paradise of treasures taken and stolen from across the world. With a conscious move to reflect on and challenge our past with the recent decolonisation strategies and BLM movements, do museums now have a function well beyond just visitor experience?

As museum designers, it’s our objective to keep challenging the perception of what a museum is – instead of scrapping the word and changing it completely. We need to constantly evolve our thinking and design to meet the changing needs of our audiences, and in these Covid-19 times who knows what role museums will play in the future and how people will respond in the gallery spaces?

Maybe it is time to redefine what museums actually are in the 21st century?

Contact us to find out how Mather & Co can help you.