During my recent participation as a keynote speaker at the International Museum Expo in India held on International Museum Day, I had the privilege of engaging with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Development of Northeast Region, G Kishan Reddy and several like-minded members of the arts and culture community. We discussed the key role that museums play not only in our modern day but also in our future – the power they have to foster much needed exchange and connection in a world that is becoming increasingly polarised and undergoing rapid change.The words of PM Narendra Modi continue to resonate within me, “When a country starts conserving its heritage it gives rise to closeness with other countries also. Our heritage becomes the harbinger of world unity.” It captures the essence of why museums matter beautifully

As I reflected on the great discussions I had with the participants and guests at the Expo at Pragati Maidan, I was reminded of what museums are uniquely positioned to do: they stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation acting as guardians of art, culture and heritage, while conversing with people and society about change and the future.In a multipolar world, museums are dynamic spaces that foster connection, dialogue, and interaction. While housing relics from the past, museums are vibrant hubs that spark creativity and expand horizons, offering opportunities for exploration, education, and inspiration. So, now more than ever, as we see polarising discourses spread in the world, how do we learn from each other – leveraging our global museums to bridge the gaps between civilisations, geographies, and times? How can museums help us connect to each other, to our shared humanity

1. Introduce innovative and collaborative models

 

Establishing strong alliances and collaborative models enables museums to leverage the expertise and resources of different institutions, creating a more holistic and enriching visitor experience. For instance, under the umbrella of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi, the Saadiyat Cultural District houses Louvre Abu Dhabi, which showcases a collaboration between the UAE and France, but also the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, a collaboration between the UAE and the New York based foundation. New models of governance encourage collaboration across international institutions, foster cultural exchange and broaden the scope of museums, allowing them to transcend borders and tell global stories.

2. Curate shared collections

 

Museums must embrace the idea of shared collections. By incorporating masterpieces from around the world, museums create a more comprehensive narrative that showcases the extraordinary breadth of human creativity. Shared collections not only enrich the visitor experience but also promote cultural understanding and global connections. Beyond French loans and the UAE collection, Louvre Abu Dhabi also features ambassador objects from countries like Oman, Jordan, KSA, the Philippines, South Korea, and very soon I hope from India as well. This global tapestry fosters a sense of unity and highlights our shared connections and creativity.

 

3. Boost tourism and economic diversification

 

Museums play a vital role in promoting tourism, both domestically and internationally. By adopting innovative models of economic development, museums can attract visitors from around the world and contribute to the growth of their local economies. Besides providing direct and indirect employment, museums are also able to generate revenue through their locations, their food and beverage, the boutiques, and their intellectual property rights validation. In fact, museums can also foster economic growth by collaborating with diverse sectors, such as the partnership between the watchmaker brand Swatch and Louvre Abu Dhabi, which fused art and craftsmanship.

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