Scottish Museums Federation Blog


Kelly Forbes, Digital Engagement and Communications Manager at Museum Galleries Scotland writes about her experiences in Geneva when she went to MuseumNext.

In the time that’s past since MuseumNext Geneva, I’ve been contemplating what the overarching theme of the conference was for me, the thing that stuck out more than anything else. For those of you who haven’t heard of MuseumNext it’s an international conference for museum professionals that focuses on the future of museums. It’s a very intense 3 days of talks and workshops but it’s also an opportunity to network with others in fantastic museum and gallery settings. The host city this year was Geneva which meant delegates had the pleasure of exploring venues across the city such as Batiment des Forces Motrices, MAMCO Le Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain and the Musée d’art et d’histoire.

For me the power of storytelling was the big theme of the conference with lots of speakers talking about how to engage with our audiences. Museum Hack founder Nick Grey spoke with great enthusiasm about setting up private museum tours for people who don’t like museums with good storytelling being key. In today’s fast paced environment audiences need to be entertained before they can be educated which is something museums can forget despite every object in their collection having a story to tell.  Something that Christian Lachel from BRC Imagination Arts also touched on when he talked about storytelling was the need for the stories to be emotive. Emotional stories resonate with audiences and become something that we want to share.

Emotion and sharing was also a big part of Jake Barton from Local Projects presentation on their work on the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Jake said that the stronger our emotions, the stronger our memories and as 9/11 was the most viewed event in human history there are a lot of people with their own memories of the events that took place on that fateful Tuesday. The museum tells the stories that took place that day but also allows visitors to contribute to the exhibit through video recording booths, ensuring their thoughts and reflections are part of the story too. Examples of storytelling and audience engagement were dotted all throughout the programme which is what made it stand out for me as the biggest takeaway from the conference. Humans are born storytellers after all, so it’s no surprise that we would continue to develop our means to tell a good yarn.

If you have a spare 10 minutes now and want to learn more about the power of storytelling check out this great TED Talk by Andrew Stanton of Pixar on how to tell a good story.

If you’d like to hear some other delegates talk about their highlights of MuseumNext Geneva check out this fantastic video from Cogapp who asked everyone (myself included) what the highlight of the conference was for them.