CTM14 PINK BOOK – Reasons to be cheerful

September, 12, 2014
Sydney

For the decision-makers at today’s museums, these are difficult times. Across the world, public funding is withdrawing, audiences continue to change, and the development of digital technologies presents new challenges for curators, educators, and marketers alike. Perhaps the very purpose of the museum is in crisis. But this need not be a cause for despair; if anything, these changing times should engender a sense of optimism throughout the museum sector.

That was the key message to emerge from the Southern Hemisphere, at Communicating the Museum 2014 (CTM14), the findings from which have just been published in The Pink Book. Organised by Agenda, CTM is a museum communications conference that takes place each year in a different city. After Paris, New York, Venice and others, CTM14 was hosted by Sydney and Melbourne. November’s eight-day conference saw 265 museum professionals from 23 countries gather together for a diverse programme of keynote speeches, discussions, events and workshops – all themed around the importance of optimism.

For Mark Goggin, Director of Sydney Living Museums, the aim of the conference was to explore “how we can use optimism in our museum practice to be more creative, to have vision, and to turn that into real action”. It was Goggin’s initial idea that brought CTM14 to Sydney and Melbourne. The conference itself generated an estimated impact of AU$2 million for the local economy.

But museums are about much more than money. One of the most significant realisations of CTM14 was the importance of collaboration – across countries and across disciplines. 91% of those who attended believed that the conference supported the development of global research and business collaboration. “One of the outcomes will be that Sydney museums will start to collaborate much more,” said Martin Barden, director of development and enterprises at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA).

In America, such collaboration has already begun. On 18 March 2015, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) joined together to launch a campaign for the conservation of a stretch of land in Nevada containing Michael Heizer’s monumental artwork City. Representatives from both MoMA and Lacma were at CTM14.

What such collaboration emphasises is the continued importance of the museum sector. While it is up to individual museums to clarify what makes them unique, nobody doubts the vital role that museums play in culture and society. “Museums have an important role to play for all cultures,” said Clarence Stockee, an aboriginal artist based in Sydney. Roy Clare, director of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, agreed: “Great art is the very spirit of mankind,” he said.

For more information from Communicating the Museum 2014 download the CTM14 synthesis : The Pink Book

The next Communicating the Museum conference is in Istanbul from 9-12 September 2015. Find out more and book online.