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Koshland Leads a Reflection of the History and Future of Museums

Media Contact: Museum Communications Officer, Koshland Science Museum
Phone: 202-334-1201, Email: Museum Communications Officer

The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences continued its tradition of bringing innovative and timely programming to the community with Museum Musings: Rethinking the Museum the evening of Thursday, June 15, presented in collaboration with the Office of Exhibitions and Cultural Programs of the National Academies. An overflow crowd filled the museum and engaged in a lively conversation about the future of museums and the role of technology, programming, and interdisciplinary study as tools for engaging the community.

The speakers, Philip Spiess of George Washington University and David Yager of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, discussed the evolving role of museums. According to Spiess and Yager, museums have evolved into a role of social commentary, a place of mediation between cultures and issues. As this evolution continues, questions arise about the appropriate relationship among virtual exhibits, artifacts and archives, and three-dimensional, real world exhibits and objects.

The receptive crowd, consisting of museum professionals and interested community members, raised questions about the role of podcasting and virtual forums for communication. Audience members also asked how to decrease barriers to museum attendance. The conversation clearly suggested that technology, both in-house and online, will have an increasingly important role in museums as a mode of fostering communication and dialogue. While it remains uncertain how technology will ultimately transform museums, what does seem clear is that museums will continue to transform as they innovate to maintain and even increase their relevancy to society.