Design Thinking for Museums

The #FutureMuseum Project: Experience-Driven and People-Centered

The #FutureMuseum Project invites professionals from around the world to share their ideas about the future of museums. Practitioners and experts based in 14 countries have contributed their ideas to the project, which were published in issue 22 of Museum-iD Magazine in Spring 2018, and will be published in the forthcoming Vol.3 of the Museum Ideas book series. Below is my contribution, in which I consider the role of human-centered processes such as Design Thinking and Service Design in the museum of the future.
 
 
The museum of the future will be more visitor- and guest-centered than ever before in the history of museums and cultural institutions. Human-centered processes such as Design Thinking and Service Design will become critical, foundational skills for emerging museum professionals, and museum staff will need to be fluent in people-centered, qualitative methods and practices in order to bring nuance and insights to the “big data” at their fingertips and better serve their audiences.

“Museums that cling to traditional, authoritative models will lose audiences on a dramatic scale to new types of experience-driven, guest-centered organizations that we can’t even imagine today.”

Dana Mitroff Silvers

This transformation in the traditional museum model has been emerging over the past two decades, but will become the norm and not the exception in the future. As stated in the most recent Culture Track report published by LaPlaca Cohen, “With loyalty now rooted in trust, consistency, and kindness, empathic, service-focused relationships will replace existing transactional models.”

This notion of empathic, service-focused relationships is nothing new in for-profit organizations, and museums of the future will embrace this holistic and human-centered approach as well. The museums that cling to traditional, authoritative models and artifact-driven approaches will lose audiences on a dramatic scale to new types of experience-driven, guest-centered organizations that we can’t even imagine today.

Read what other museum professionals have to say about the future of museums in the full issue online here.