Open Exhibits - Research - Papers



Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums


How will people use museums in the future? And which people will use them? Broad patterns of demographic change are already transforming the social landscape of the United States, remaking communities and reconfiguring the lives of Americans. Museums of different sizes, types and missions are already developing new strategies to engage with more diverse audiences and some of these museums are featured in the pages that follow. But we need to examine these profound changes against a backdrop of complex social forces rooted in history, politics, economic conditions, race, ethnicity, immigrant status, income, education, geography, age, work and leisure patterns, family life and social aspirations. While all of these issues are important, this paper considers just two issues in detail: race (or ethnicity) as an inescapable category for examining demographic change and age (or generation) as an indicator of other social changes that may have a larger impact on the way people approach and experience museums.