Museums in 3021: Irrelevance? Or a Culture Built on Stewardship

It is 3021, museums disappeared a long time ago after waves of death and rebirth. The empty buildings are toured to show the reminiscent of dusty marble walls and empty offices: it is a reminder of what shall never be repeated again, a reminder of the death of museums. You can imagine it, can’t you? In Barry Lord’s book Art & Energy he puts forth that culture can be tied to the dominant form of energy in a society. He sees a struggle between the culture of consumption, from the era of oil and natural gas, and the culture of stewardship, rising out of things like renewable energy. The culture of consumption prizes consumable experiences (including museum visits) in which ideologies are fashion and humans are a commodity. The culture of stewardship, however, fosters values of local engagement, preservation, sustainability, and transparency. This session will take these ideas to their logical extreme - in the case of the culture of consumption we will look at a future where there is nothing left for the public in museums or for museum professionals after continued trauma that museums perpetuate on staff and marginalized populations; where technology and the digital are used for control, surveillance, and oppression, where museums are consigned to irrelevance and the dustbin of history. Humanity moved on. Boards and directors are gone. For the culture of stewardship, the session will use the lens of solarpunk science fiction: we will look at museums in 3021 and what a culture of stewardship in museums could look like. Cultural heritage institutions are often viewed as being rooted in the past, rather than at the cultural vanguard. With the coming of a culture of stewardship we as museum professionals have a rare opportunity to intervene not just in our cultural organizations, but to the public in general to foster values of equity, preservation and sustainability. The session will end with looking at the direct future - realizing that between these two extremes there is a path forward - but pursuing it would require surmounting complex and even painful challenges. However, tackling those challenges would reform the digital and the field at large. Track:Why Museums?


Unknown Speaker 15:00
So, I'm Jeremy Munro, I'm the database administrator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. I'm a white man who's wearing a loud floral print shirt, And I'm wearing a baseball hat that says Greek death on it. Um, I am a big fan of the summer golf aesthetic and all points. And today we're going to talk about museums and 3021, and whether museums can remain relevant or will be consigned to the dustbin of history. To start off, on, Andrea just did her land acknowledgement I will do mine now. So, long before I was born, the NACA chuangke People lived on the land now called Washington district of Columbia. Since the arrival of Europeans, they had other indigenous communities to face the loss of their land and destruction of their culture across what we now call the United States, North America and South America. I cannot pay the scale of this debt myself but I can get my solidarity, advocacy, and resources to support the communities in names and I encourage all others to do the same after this presentation I will be making a donation to the first Americans Museum in Oklahoma, after this, after this, and I strongly encourage others to donate. In addition to their acknowledgement on the link is there the blow or you could just Google the first American museum they have a big donate link. Um. Secondly, I would also just like to acknowledge that enslaved Africans were brought to North America in the 1500s but 1619 is often used as the beginning of slavery in the United States on April 12 1861 Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter South Carolina igniting the Civil War, enslaved people took up arms, it sees their freedom. While 360,000 Union soldiers died fighting separatists government which sought to use the prerogative of states rights to uphold slavery. For all of American history, their descendants have faced structural and explicit racism, we will never have a better world, so long as it continues on. And finally I would like to acknowledge that and slave labor helped construct the original Smithsonian building, the Smithsonian castle which still stands on the National Mall. Um, so a really important thing to understanding our presentation today is understanding what a liminal places liminal places are a bit of a meme online, but they're very real in the sense that they take up a lot of academic space. I'm using a definition from architecture so the physical spaces between one destination and the next. I know, we could debate whether museums are liminal places but I think that museums are very much in a transition between one destination, And the next, and it is very unclear what their what what they will become.

Unknown Speaker 17:49
And I think that one of the big questions so the confusion of trying to imagine the future is, whatever the heck happened during 2020. We saw the news. According to the news, it was a year of accountability for museums. But was it actually like that. Next slide please. So, during this global pandemic. What happened was not necessarily new, it was the exacerbation of the different situations that we were already experiencing here in the field. I think that that gives us an idea about the future, but the response from museum institutions, I think made us rethink what we thought was going to happen in the future looks like this. So, reality hits, and then institutions, start sharing the responsible or asks of better practices or asks of better treatment of employees. So, how do they respond. Let's explore. Next slide please. Before I even dive, I encourage you to dive into the museum workers report 2021 It has been shared widely on Twitter. If somebody can pop in, into the comments, a link to it i There are links to download it. I definitely encourage you to read through it. Not gonna steal their data, I'm gonna encourage you to read their data, but at least I do want to acknowledge that this is an excruciating Lee painful story, clearly told of how, how we were received our claims and or asks, were received.

Unknown Speaker 19:28
Next slide please.

Unknown Speaker 19:32
While you also saw all of the news floating around there is celebration, all kinds of New Museum unions, if you are part of a New Museum union want to honor you right now. I only put a couple of logos there, I wouldn't have enough space during the last year so MANY of you have unionize. But at the same time, we're seeing union busting activities. All kinds of tactics to fight against negotiation, even after a union has been accepted. Next slide please. And then we also saw different types of retaliation, we saw the law firms, we saw the new hires in diversity, equity and accessibility inclusion, but we also saw some people from our own communities if you're a person of color being used can have to defend pretty pretty terrible practices. Next slide please. All you know, we saw the full picture of narcissistic abuse. We saw that this is not something that we can negotiate adults. This is not a problem that we can just agree on, and then move on. This tactics actually their mind or loyalty and silence in goes through retaliation in acts through gaslighting it segregates us pretty effectively. It makes us hopeless, and it makes us a bit selfish. Next slide please. So with all of this situation. Can we even imagine a future for museum, what kind of future awaits for us.

Unknown Speaker 21:09
Next place. So,

Unknown Speaker 21:13
we saw where the money is going, and I think that this is a good path to follow. Where is the money going is not going to necessarily to get things better, is not necessarily going so that we become better, so that we have better experiences, and so that they feel suddenly fixes itself that is now have this has been led the story has been a bit different. Next slide please. After I took a step back and I looked at all of the ways in which museum responded in the past year and the past 20 years of different museum colleagues, and all kinds of points, asking for better practices. The bottom line is, we are protecting the colonial practices, and museums are still avoiding accountability at all costs. So, welcome to 3021 How can we think of our future. If we continue this exact path. I'm going to help imagine what I believe can happen if we continue to follow the path that we've been following, so far. Next slide please, think that that might give you part of the answer. Some of you have seen this dog play and all kinds of new games, dancing around. Well, this is where my fear goes. Let's say that somehow institutions are able to keep control, meaning they are able to control unions, they are able to control organic, organizing, they're able to even spike up all kinds of retaliation and new types of surveillance. I imagine that in 3021 museum workers will look, not that different. But maybe we will be made to work in very different ways, that's when I believe that artificial intelligence will play a big role. And that makes me pretty scared I don't know about you, but then I also imagine that this world of museums field of surveillance and with continuous retaliation if it continues to avoid reflecting the context that he lives in. I believe that is the rest of society, the mind. Forget about museums. Some of you have theorized that maybe in a few years, there won't be a need for museums, that if we don't change, then why do we exist. Why do we want to keep on telling the stories of one another. So I imagined that if we do nothing about the situation. We might be doomed to irrelevance. This conversation can continue to go dark and dark and dark and dark and we can go into a cycle of a dystopian future, but you know sometimes I struggle a little bit to go that far because it's already it already feels quite dystopian, and I'll let Jeremy dive into that.

Unknown Speaker 24:16
So I'm gonna open up this with a quote by cultural critic, Austin Walker is talking about the video game NieR Automata which is a game that's very seriously looking at the future and how, whether or not the future is a cycle, and that also like what is the role of like what is not just like what I'm like are robots, people but like what are people so I'm just gonna read it, like what the fuck are people in the world where none of us can connect, none of us can ever really reach out and touch another person at all points that connection is mediated by language, or by technology, or by physical distance, or by the words we refuse to say to one another, because we're scared or by the words we're compelled to say to one another because of loyalty or anger, and all that connection is impossible. And also it's all we can fucking do to try to connect with each other is the only thing we can't stop trying to do is to find that deep human connection, whether or not we were born as human are stumbling to being that desire is what makes us human. And the biggest tragedies are when we try and fail to, um, so I want to open up with, you know the the eternal question of museums right what is the museum. And I don't mean like the icon definition right, I'm not. I think that things like the icon definition of museums or any other kind of like a definition, are attempting to look at institutions that already exist and then assign the label museum to them. I am more interested in in what, what is the museum, conceptually and philosophically, what is the role that it fits into human existence, and I don't even mean in the terms of like, you go to it and you experience culture I mean even a more philosophical than that. Like what does it mean to have a museum, right, what does it mean that we have a word for a museum that we think that things should be stored in places. Um, and so we already kind of talked about liminal spaces but as a review, right, the physical spaces between one destination and the next, you know and again liminal spaces are a bit of a meme. We see a tweet, academics, be like, I know a spot and then take you to a liminal place. Um, but, so I'm gonna talk about the promise of a liminal space right so it's a mental space is a place in between, it feels like anything can happen. What happens when we go underground, physically or mentally, can we emerge somewhere else somewhere else, as someone else. I read books about people who traveled to explore caves, for example, and they talked about the sheer disorienting of being in a cave and the feeling of emerging that you've come out into a new world even though you exited right where you entered.

Unknown Speaker 26:56
So let's talk about non places. Can you imagine a non place, a place this place, a place without space, a place where place in the idea of a non place can coexist, or not exist, can we enter such a place, what would happen if you open a door and went somewhere else. One time I open a door and it went up to my street, but the street was different than before. it was redacted, the void was there was the abyss or what's the great chasm the heart of the universe, maybe it was art, maybe it was also theater maybe it was all the times I could have helped people but I didn't. Maybe it was my regrets. Either way the memory is gone plucked out of my brain. And now every time I open doors I pray it will go somewhere else, or then I'll get in a car on a train and when we go into the tunnel will emerge and some and everything else was the dream and the good times will be some Halcyon memory of your non placed non place not a place for also a place, because a non places a thing and then anything and habits a place, doesn't it, maybe the computer goes to liminal places maybe the screen will suck me in and I'll just be a bunch of bits and bytes and Phil eats me out at the other end of some other when. But if a museum is a place could it also be a non place could a non place house, art is a non place art or history or an archive. What if the non places of the world are archives placeless places housing spaceless knowledge, perhaps the museum is all in our heads literally existing in our heads, it's some kind of mad fever dream, perhaps museum digital is a non place some den of weirdos that likes that like to walk around brutalist architecture at night and look in a trash can and go. Is this a liminal space, non places like these should be weirder, Maybe we should make weird stuff, maybe when we make weird stuff we make cool stuff, and then the non places can go back to being yes places. So that was weird, right. You know sometimes weird signals come across these internet waves anyways back to regular scheduled programming. So spectral a structure for I'm going to talk about here, I'm gonna talk about a kind of three types of culture. The culture of consumption the culture of stewardship and the culture of extraction, and the possible futures that these lead towards some of these I took very much from Barry Lord's book art and energy. He specifically talks about culture of consumption and culture of stewardship, I thought about how I think we've actually the culture of construction isn't quite accurate for what we live in now and then, instead we live in the culture of extraction which I'll get to, but first I want to do a note on binary because Andre and I are really pedaling and we're very much true the binary thing here, right, like could museums end up good or can museums end up back, but we're outlining to pass but they're not exclusive binaries reduce complexity and that the real future is always going to be some middle ground between these. But ultimately, these are the forces that we see pushing and pulling on each other and that be, I want to remind folks that the ideal world of the dystopian world are useful because they're abstractions that can teach us about the present, but they're never going to come to pass, you know I there's a tendency to read dystopian literature and be like oh my gosh I could see this because it's going to happen and it's like, it's never going to happen, you know, our, our lives are have so much more complexity and nuance to them. Um, so, you know, Barry Lawrence main thesis in art and energy is that culture in a given year is tied to that society's energy source. And he talks about, historically, you see the cultural transformation so we're talking about like the late 1800s, early 1900s electrification, rapid development, new inventions coming out, you know, one minute you have the telegraph, next minute you have the telephone, you know, um, but then after World War Two. He says that we're in a culture of anxiety, which reflects the rise of nuclear power, the ability to destroy literally the entire planet in a moment. And that that generated a lot of anxiety and I didn't say great with the cultural preservation obviously that maps on to the rise of like literally electrification, literally, power, being a thing. Um, so cultural consumption is kind of, he says we live in now and it's not, to me it's not just the consumption of goods or resources, but the consumption of experiences. Right, so what is that, what does that consumption imply, so there's, I see two kinds of angles of consumption in museums structures that exist right now and I think we'll probably continue to exist in the future. So, at their core museum seek to consume time. So, ie we bring in visitors and they spend their time at museums, and I don't even mean that in like a cynical way like all museums want to like waste your time or whatever, but I just mean that's like a fact of anything you do in your life that wants you to show up, people are consuming your time, and we like that, a number that's bigger is better than the small number.

Unknown Speaker 31:31
And then there's also consumption in the museum experience itself right visitors come in and they consume our exhibitions, they consume our digital interactives, they consume our social media. And I think what's interesting too, when we use the word consume, we don't often mean that like it's a healthy thing. Right. You know, when we usually consuming implies some negative, it's worth reflecting on that. So I wanted to reframe the culture of consumption as cultural extraction actually which is to say that museum in our culture where we do an extreme extraction of physical resources right not just metal or oil. I want people to start thinking about the consumer, how we consume land, and I don't even just mean that like stealing indigenous peoples land which is absolutely a thing that has happened and continues to happen, but also like landed your built environment around you, right that we live in these big sprawl, where there's no community it's hard to access resources, and that we consume land and the sake of building these big house castles on them, essentially, and then driving these Castle cars around places like you know, everybody's a little feudal lord, which is a very extractive mode, and that the museum is extractive of objects, right, like, at its core museums taking objects that's extractive especially in the formal sense of them stealing them from communities, potentially. So there's also the extraction of time, right, we all are pretty familiar with the attention economy at this point and I just talked about time, but I also want people to start thinking about the extraction of data, which is not just surveillance, which Andrea talked about very well, but also we extract our digital selves, right. So like right now. There's a bunch of data that is called Jeremy Munro that exists on a bunch of different data centers in North America, and probably in other parts of the world, like I'm on, I'm very active on Twitter so wherever the Twitter data center is like a nonzero amount of myself is living, because I don't, you should not I would encourage you to not think of you as being just like the body and the brain, but that like your journals like if you have journals, I have a bag in my closet with all my journals in them. That's also me, Because there's memories in there and I don't really have access to those TVs a very reductionist thing I'm not a big Harry Potter Potter fan, but like the pensive from Harry Potter right you literally are taking memories out of you and putting them elsewhere. And then also I want to note that the extraction of data, disproportionately hurts the poorest among us and people of color. It's been proven that for example a lot of, you know, companies that seek to, you know, monopolize people of color also very very rough shot with their data, people of color are much more likely to be victims of identity theft, and that this cuts, again, it cuts across race and class. So, finally, I will talk about the culture of stewardship, which is kind of like the hopeful trend, which is that, hopefully, we end up somewhere near here. And this accompanies renewable energy, and this is straight from Barry Lorde, and that creates the culture of stewardship is has values of local engagement, preservation, sustainability and I think most importantly transparency, I'm somebody who thinks that transparency is pretty much the number one thing that museums should be doing, because I think when you're a trans, when you have a culture that's transparent. I think all the rest of that stuff comes. And so another lens with the culture of stewardship is solar punk. And this slide is just ripped from my Knight presentation so if you saw that, I'm just copying that but it's some sci fi which assumes that humanity solves the climate problems that it faces today, and that technology is something to be used only when it is a mutually agreed upon benefit, and it's focused towards global justice and not just green living for those who can afford it, which is something like, intensely frustrating to me in that, you know, we, something I didn't get to expound on in my Ignite, but I'll use this opportunity to is that in the future I hope that we stop thinking about the environment as something that's either only your personal responsibility right like you know, don't use plastic straws or, oh my God I need to find a place to recycle this can that I drink at work, or on the other end, it's specifically only the prop, the problem of rich people in corporations who seem to be polluting the planet and it's like Captain Planet villain way, because it's both. We have an individual responsibility where we can and where it makes sense and where it's economically feasible for us to do so, but we also have a responsibility, but also the powers that be and the systems that we create and the people in charge of them have a responsibility to take care of the planet. And so I just don't want people to ever think that those are, you get binaries are bad. So now I'll turn it back to Andrea.

Unknown Speaker 36:16
You said that it was so fascinating when a couple of people from MCs asked Jaron at Ignite to collaborate in this presentation which actually comes out of our Ignite presentation, but we realized we have a lot of things in common of our perspectives about the future. But I will say that I was struggling in one sense, the original presentation started with a question. What 3021 could look like, both from the perspective of what I was proposing which was healing and from Jeremy's perspective. And I have to be honest with you. In the past year I got to the point where it was really hard to imagine the future, almost impossible for me. And I was remembering when I was a child, my dad, big lover of science fiction has a collection of magazines, and I wonder if there's anybody familiar with me will be amazing if any of you are bored, they were called Quest, and the magazine Quest was exploring what the future technologies could be like, what the future around space exploration could look like. I distinctively remember the ways of communication that were suggested it was this tiny little pencil looking pendant that people will carry, and that eventually transforming the idea of how to communicate with one another so that was kind of like one of the early, early sketches from somebody who imagine cellphone communications. So, I was finally able to ask myself in the past few weeks, even though I cannot clearly imagine a future for museums, the way it is right now, or even though I wasn't able to. Can I start to imagine what it would look like if we face the biggest piece that I think is our obstacle right now, which is our trauma. And I started to see some things. Next slide please. I started to see a future where actually we take an opportunity to heal and healing, although you might not think that it translates into technology I believe that he does. I believe that healing will lead us to courageous sacrifices to courageous movements, you see all of the incredible technologies and possibilities that Jeremy suggests, I believe are only possible if the people collaborate with one another to make those realities happen because I don't believe that the people who are in place right now actually have the motivation, or the need to change. So the people in charge don't have the inspiration or the need to change, how can we push them. That's where I believe that courageous have sacrifices will be taken. That's where I believe that I future stewardship, it's actually possible. If we collaborate to advocate for one another. I believe that there is a possibility to redesign our reality, even to the extent of starting to develop, empathetic, tech, what does that even look like. Next slide please, think that the reason why I was finally able to imagine a future, is because of why you see on your screen. Yes, my own path of resigning, I just was so fed up. But then I observe what people have been able to do, even despite the constraints of today's age. I believe that shader level VR changed my limitations of what I thought was possible. I will leave that there museum workers Relief Fund, changed my perspective of what was possible. I believe that the movement of museums are not not true, is changing that perspective. So I can only draw what I saw in those quest magazines MANY, MANY years ago, I can at least starting to sketch, I can start to sketch, and I get the idea that we can go in a good path, if we commit to healing. Next slide please. I believe in a future of healing and well being. I believe that if we are able to break the barriers. We will take control of the situation. I don't think that it will be easy and I'm not, I'm not gonna sell that idea, I just don't believe that we need every single person for this. I think that small bunch is powerful enough.

Unknown Speaker 40:46
Next slide please.

Unknown Speaker 40:49
So I just want to pose a pose a question for everybody to kind of conclude this a little bit. What if all the doors in staircases and nighttime drives or train tunnels or night buses all go to the same places, some network of places in memory that move between all of us. What if we, what we'd find there was all the memories we stored away or we'd find the things we forgot or the things we were forced to leave behind. Maybe that's what 3021 is.

Unknown Speaker 41:16
So there's an invitation here. It was a year ago that I was invited by an artist, a local initiative, artist, and he started telling me about a practice that he does with his community, and I started adopting that practice and I think it makes sense for this, they were using daydreaming as an act of liberation. I believe that we're in a liminal space that we are in a moment of transition, and we can start imagine a different future. Even if it doesn't make sense.

Unknown Speaker 41:49
You can find us at your favorite staircase to nowhere favorite dead mall where you got dumped in an eternal y2k There's our Twitter's, we'll take questions now. Can we just stop sharing, so that way I can see everybody.

Unknown Speaker 42:12
I do want to mention a really good point that Tim mentioned, I will read it. It says some brutal transparency without care and diligence can be as damaging and brutal, secretly, though, why it is to care for objects and items that museum hold in ways that honor traditional and indigenous ways of stewardship and care that may require restrictions for example, certain songs and words are traditionally only meant for elders or working, my apologies if in case of mispronunciation engaging in that conversation is an open and transparent in an open and transparent way is vital, but what it is manifested may not be from a Western perspective, be transparent I 100% agree and I have actually seen a lot of harm being done. When transparency is done with Okay, thank you for that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 43:06
I totally agree. I mean, I wouldn't say you're doing good transparency if you're violating that kind of stuff, it's pretty it's pretty simple math folks have any questions please sound off.

Unknown Speaker 43:21
Yeah. We both believe we both believe in all kinds of possibilities. It's really interesting we've we just got talking about all kinds of science fiction is there any, any type of science fiction, inspired, any of the audience's are listening right now into thinking of potential futures, feel free to comment.

Unknown Speaker 43:44
Yeah, Actually, at Better World Museum and horizon Art Museum we use virtual reality world building. We pay diverse women and LGBTQ members to learn how to use primary shapes gizmos and simple scripts to create installations and worlds that are centered around Amplifying Voices, letting go, healing, each of our lessons has a theme like amplify voice or letting go or fear of flying, and we teach these members, our goals to teach 1000 and a half women in the next six months how to build these worlds and then track them using different metrics to see what kind of community leadership roles they develop independently in the groups and communities that they're part of this is all in a VR platform inside of an Oculus Rift. And if you have interest in participating, I will give you an access pass, if you're 18 or older in United States and Canada, please reach out, I will do everything I can to have heat. Make sure you have access to this platform if you have an Oculus headset. I don't work for Facebook, but I created my own museum because of the personal trauma that I've experienced the environment you see around me was created by collaborative community builders who created a world surrounding domestic abuse, resilience, during this month of domestic violence survivors, so there are ways that you can use technology and futurist world building to create community and amplify voices today.

Unknown Speaker 45:59
Thank you. Yeah, much appreciated for that, um, something else I was on that last note of like creating communities, something that I think a lot about for museums in the future is, how do we create communities that create any amount of the passion that you see in like any small internet community dedicated to like a video game or like any small musical artist or something like that where like you know people just run up whole fan discords and stuff like that. Oh, um, it looks like I'm Onna has their hand up.

Unknown Speaker 46:36
Yeah, hello everyone. Thank you for your, for your token inspiration and something we, we always have a know what is the future of museums and so MANY brand promises from from the technology in lots of articles know what technology can do for people. I'm an RPA come from the Polytechnical University in Valencia, Spain, and I'm the coordinator of remains a network of resumes and digital strategies for Latin American museums and Spanish speaking countries. So, from these, I did my PhD on augmented reality and museums, and I was inspired in MANY films and science fiction, because, in my opinion, we need to go out from screens and go inside technology from a more natural approach more natural behave. And so this old promises of digital technology are always in background is I mean it's not real at all know what happened with social networks, I mean, culture is always increases. Sometimes I think about it, and people that look at us on people that really use museums, is quite limited. And we always try to open it up to a wider audience. Instead of getting a bandsaw of what the community can be. It also if it is small, or what we can do for the perception, with all that. So, about what the enemy was saying why not in 2035 or in the next future, we can have those communities, interacting with technology, or with other people, more related to an artifact or an issue or flower or whatever it is that really makes sense for all of us. And because of the pandemic. We are more related to physical objects not because we are tired of the screens we are tired of technology. So acid. In my opinion, noon in culture is increases always, and resumes are crazy increases always and will be in for the MANY, MANY years in the future. But the physical, the power of the physical objects, and the power of collections, in my opinion, if we think in the future, it will get stronger, and I think once you have an important role in the beginning.

Unknown Speaker 49:31
Thank you, I appreciate I appreciate that comment. That made me also think about like something I would encourage people to think about too is that museums take it for granted that they should exist, this is something my new director at the African art museum that said to us is like is asking like, Why does an African art museum exists as part of the federal government of the United States it's like just like as a question right like there's good answers for why does, but nonetheless, we should be asking ourselves that same thing goes with tech and museum digital, which I think is like why, why, you know we're doing this is the why museums trap but also like why digital like why are we using x technology in why way. And instead, as you pointed out, could we use technologies to touch on different segments of visitors that you know we not serving as well instead of just trying to pitch a big tent, all the time. So, yes,

Unknown Speaker 50:22
I'm great, and I left a comment from Sue's Jeremy Andrea how essential Do you think it is to look to the past and museum stories to understand the institution in order to imagine towards the future is a helpful limiting, I actually have thoughts about this I, I think that can be both. I think that it is essential that we dismantle how we've told stories. Historically, because I do think that we can see the pattern so why leadership and museums have taken decisions on how to portray certain stories how certain coalition's have chosen to be the ones that exhibited why certain collections have been hidden in obscure areas of them you'll see for decades and centuries. I do think that all of that is crucial understand why the museum is the way it is. But I also think is limited in this way. I think that in the past year, we saw what happens when leadership suddenly says, yes, we need to do better, but all they talk about is a sentence, we need to do better, and we're working on it, and they might be repeating the same arguments around the need for diversity and equity and accessibility and inclusion. But I think that at this point, they are stuck there. We are past that we aren't we are now talking about trauma informed care. While some leadership are still going on and on and on about a specific aspect so I think that when is detrimental is when resources are so dedicated to a specific subject that he blinds all of the necessities that have what we need to do.

Unknown Speaker 52:03
Yeah, by other way I would approach that question too, regarding the past is that, you know, I department, like I'm a trained historian, like you know so I love the past, going to be finishing up a 900 page book about Ulysses S Grant after this presentation very stoked about it. Um, but also when it comes to museums, I think the past. The past is is really great for narrative right past gives us all the good stories for why we're here and all of the things that have happened in the past, but that narrative in museums is often used to keep us from changing. And that's that's my big concern is that the stories that we tell ourselves and museums, not just this employees but like the stories of museums being valuable inherently it's like, again like I once I'm just asking why do we have museums like why are their objects. Why do we feel like we need to put them in a hall and go look at them rather than like, you know, there's objects in my room right now, but they're just my room is not an exhibition, you know, like this is these are just kind of questions that keep me up at night sometimes. Oh yeah like Susie you want to like talk about that more, please. Oh, to be

Unknown Speaker 53:11
honest, so I'm teaching a course on history in theory at the moment and I was going through my readings but tomorrow, when, when I was doing the session and a lot of what I've been thinking about for tomorrow's class actually comes from this idea of how we understand history also then leads to the risk of repeating history so the argument is often that if you forget the past. You will repeat it and I almost think it's flipped on that that actually we remember the past it becomes the narrative that then we understand as being natural or assumed in some ways and therefore that leads to repeating something that looking at histories of domination and oppression, for instance, then become written into expectations and so thinking about them, how we move to a history where that that where we're not repeating the same structures and systems, I'm really curious as to the role of history within that because I think that's important for us as cultural institutions and historical institutions, but also how we break those structures and cycles.

Unknown Speaker 54:26
Thank you, that, that makes total sense and it also makes me think of the necessity of multiple perspectives. I think that multiple perspectives is an approach that I very much encourage, because I think that even thinking of history, we can ask the questions, whose history I co wrote this, you know, who is a four, because a lot of times when we say, art history, does not tell in my story, necessarily. It might be touching on some points, but I do see value into taking a step back and reconsidering even how we place that timeline on art history, but I will also say, at the same time that it can be a tactic to stay where we are, and not move. I've seen that being a tactic.

Unknown Speaker 55:14
I would also say that, like, you know, history is rife with quotes, essentially saying what you were, what you were just saying, which is to say that like, no, there's the Ursula Gwynn quote, it's like, you know, the Divine Right of Kings seemed unassailable until it wasn't and, you know, Lenin saying, you know, sometimes decades happen in days and that you know, etc, etc. Or like Mark Fisher's capitalist realism is something I revisit a lot where capitalism, specifically makes us think that it frames what is possible and it's very difficult to step outside of those bounds, so I was just thinking, I was just thinking about that as you said that it's just like it's very funny that there's this, you know, as you said, it's, it's the, it's flipped, you know, history is, is, you know, we think that knowing history will make us not doomed to repeat it yet we repeat it all the time. And yet, it is also kind of poetically very funny that there is a long history of people saying that, and that we, we can then pull those quotes all the time and, and point them out to people in a conference session, you know, I don't know, sometimes I just find life more. As this is this that just ASCII quote that's like, I want to find out crap, I'm gonna forget it. Oh, love life in spite of the meaning of it. And I like to find the absurdity here.

Unknown Speaker 56:34
Oh, I see that we're three minutes out so I. Before we continue, I do want to lift Tim's comment that I think is so important. He does mention that artifacts in museums. It's unfortunate that they are seen as the default of culture, and it is true that for indigenous cultures artifacts are often part of the process, one example where this was very real is a couple of one of my initial artist friends pointed out that at my institution there are drums that should have never been part of a wall that those drums belong to the forest to the wetlands and according to her own community. Once those drums will be used, then they will be given back to nature. That's just an example of how you know museums have reinterpreted and how they're supposed to be using objects. I definitely want to thank each one of you for participating in this conversation. I was so excited to collaborate with Jeremy. On my behalf. Thank you very much. I know Jeremy if you have any last words.

Unknown Speaker 57:42
Yeah, I just want to say thank you to everybody for attending. I know, virtual conference was tough this year, it has been for me I've been having to just do my job while also attempting to attend, which kind of sucks. And so it was great that folks came out and looking forward to hopefully seeing everybody in person next year, where I can just, we can just really be weird, hopefully, in the meantime I hope you stay safe and, you know, I wish you much more than luck.

Unknown Speaker 58:08
Cheers. Thank you.