THINGS TO WATCH IN 2018
For the last few years we have been publishing a list of what to watch in the year ahead. This annual December exercise has been both fun and humbling because no one knows what will really happen in 2018. Organizations like the Center for the Future of Museums, devoted futurists, probably have it easier when it comes to predicting the future in a more general, "20 years from now" kind of way. While we are all still waiting for flying cars and cures for the common cold, here's what PA Museums is looking at in its crystal ball:
The Pennsylvania Budget - Pennsylvania has been wrestling with serious budget problems, and the 2018-2019 budget process will be colored by many of the same debates we have seen in the last few years. There are significant elections coming up in 2018, too.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission - We will be watching Pennsylvania's official history agency, its budget, and its programs all across the commonwealth. Its Cultural and Historical Support grants provide a lifeline of operational funding to around 150 organizations, and the expansion of the PHMC's agency budget and its budget for grants have the potential to lead the way for our member organizations.
New Museums - New museums open every year. Will a museum be part of the restoration of the First Bank of Philadelphia? Will there be a Hammerstein Museum? When was the last time an art museum opened in Pennsylvania?
Diversity Initiatives - We may see more diversity initiatives in Pennsylvania aimed at including more people from more communities in the work of museums. A museum may work to add people of color to its board of directors or interpret its collection differently. This is on trend nationally, and we expect to see more museums engaging in these activities.
New Museum Technology - Somewhere out there in a garage or their mother's basement, someone is making something that will be in a museum trade show exhibit soon. Is there a robot waiting to do your job? Personal devices and apps seem to have reached a plateau, and virtual reality is getting less expensive. It is definitely still a thing. What will be next?
Political Fatigue - Our advocacy efforts at PA Museums will continue in 2018, and we are sensitive to the fact that our members may be experiencing some fatigue around political issues, politicians' behaving badly, and the fact that advocacy is not always exciting. The word
advocacy makes your eyes glaze over? We encourage your activism with us around museum issues. We may just stop calling it advocacy.
Special Events - Special events can certainly drive attendance and revenue, and we have been notified about many events at member institutions that we imagine are a lot of fun. Pennsylvanians will be sure to have their fair share of Beer Fests and Whiskey Tasting events at museums and historical organizations in 2018.
Professional Development - Professional development for museum workers is an expanding universe. Specialization in the field and loyalty to organizations like ours that present opportunities for professional development have crowded the calendar with webinars, workshops, and conferences. At the same time, museum budgets for professional development have never been large. Combine these ideas with the influx of hungry young minds entering the field. Are you coming to our 2018 conference or are you listening to a podcast? You can do both!
The Periphery - Out on the fuzzy edges of the crystal ball's lens there are any number of things that could be the next BIG thing. The tourism industry's fortunes, activities in historic preservation, the changes in the economy, and social movements like #MeToo around sexual harassment all have the power to push museums in a new direction.