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A Work in Progress: A Museum for the 21st Century

Barbara Henry

Oakland Museum of California

Education Director


For the past three years, the Oakland Museum of California has been increasingly involved in new research, innovative processes, and experimental practices to transform the museum into a new model for the 21st century. This envisioned model is building upon the museum’s founding spirit of serving as a public forum and gathering place for a diverse urban community. But what does that mean for the 21st century? The talk will examine lessons learned and challenges in realizing a museum’s potential to serve as a shared urban gathering place of inspiration, education, and preservation respectful of the growing impact of technology, changing demographics, increased civic responsibilities, and challenges in financial sustainability.  This is a place where visitors contribute and claim ownership, determine its relevancy, and support the museum as both a dynamic cultural forum and welcoming house of contemplation.