Future Museum: Innovation network for the museum industry gets off the ground

Future Museum
© Deniz Saylan Photographer


Fraunhofer IAO joins forces with partners to develop future scenarios for museums

What will museums look like in 20 years? What challenges and trends await this industry? Fraunhofer IAO and MUSEUM BOOSTER GmbH have teamed up in a project called Future Museum to help museums prepare for the shape of things to come.

Museums have to offer exciting experiences to attract visitors. New technologies will surely figure more prominently in the visitor experience in a more connected, digital world. Will the glass showcase still be a fixture of this world in 20 years time? Or will the physical exhibit arrayed in a large room be a thing of the past? Fraunhofer IAO and MUSEUM BOOSTER GmbH launched their joint Future Museum project in December to pave the way toward tomorrow’s museum. Over the next two years, the project team and 23 museum industry partners will strive to develop future scenarios that anticipate the challenges ahead and reinvent the museum as a cultural institution.

Concepts, solutions, design and technology for a compelling visitor experience

Museums are having to rethink their standard practices as the digital transformation makes headway and the conditions for managing cultural institutions change fundamentally. The Future Museum project has set out to address the issues that loom large for museums and explore questions about the visitor experience, management, interior design and technology:

  • How do visitors experience their time in a museum?
  • How can management optimize their practices and perhaps even establish new business models for their museums?
  • How are they going to charge admission fees?
  • What will the museum rooms of the future look like?
  • Which new technologies can serve to better convey knowledge?

The Fraunhofer IAO research team wants to conduct trend and best-practice analyses, surveys and workshops to help find the answers.

New technologies are making inroads into museums. Virtual reality, for example, can transform the visitor from a passive observer into an immersive discoverer. Sensor data can help direct visitor traffic. The public perception of museums is also changing. Traditional roles and tasks will have to be reexamined. “In the future, the museum can be an interactive place of participation and involvement that conveys cultural heritage, knowledge and learning content in an attractive way. Tomorrow’s museum could take on a whole new significance for society,” says Prof. Vanessa Borkmann of Fraunhofer IAO, who heads up the Future Museum research team.

Museum industry vanguard comes together in the Future Museum innovation network

The Fraunhofer IAO and MUSEUM BOOSTER also initiated the project to invite museum directors, government culture and tourism agencies, technology vendors, interior designers and service providers to help build an innovation-oriented network. The idea is for stakeholders to engage in a spirited dialog, sharing experiences to jointly shape the future of museums. The project is funded by 23 project partners from six countries.