My speech at the general conference of ICOM in Kyoto,  3rd Sep. 2019

Building Connections vs. Building Collections? The Museum of the Future.

Dr. Matthias Henkel 

Conference sub-theme the paper supports
Redefining the role of Marketing and Public Relations at museums



We are living in a changing world. Therefore museums must become contemporary. That means that museums must open themselves to the questions that are relevant for the current time.

The major changes are:

  • diversity
  • migration
  • digitisation
  • the loss of trustworthiness

These major changes are both a challenge and a great opportunity. Therefore we have to think about the Museum of the Future, about it’s skills, about it’s tasks, about it’s possibilities, about it’s USP.


The 6 goals – for the Museum of the Future

  • No longer giving answers – but rising questions
  • No longer delivering press releases – but curating informations
  • Not longer only collecting object – but gathering informations about relations
  • Not longer telling stories about the past – but building bridges between past, present and future
  • Not longer only diving into the world of the objects – but interconnecting the people with objects, contexts and content
  • Not longer using the www like a digital billboard – but curating the digitale space in an authentic way


  • ICOM itself should attach greater importance to the aspect of communication within the Code of Ethics.
  • And we – as communicators and marketers for museums – we have to work on our own skills and should try to build a communicative bridge between the marketing, the communication, the brand-building, the education and the curators – last but not least it is time to transform the museum of the future into a space that looks more like a forum for the societies than a warehouse of objects.

Such a paradigm shift represents an unbelievable opportunity to position ourselves as reliable, trustworthy institutions working in the service for societies.