Shared Authority. Innovation. Crowd-sourcing. Entrepreneurship.
Every few years, the list of hot button terms in the museum field shifts to account for the rapidly changing world that we live in. Recently, the Dallas Museum of Art has announced that they will be taking innovation to a new level through an approach to membership entitled Friends and Partners. According to the DMA, this program will help foster the idea that the institution is “everyone’s museum of art”. After an over ten year hiatus, the museum will return to a free admission policy and hopefully open up to a more diverse group of visitors. The new DMA Friends program will be free to anyone who wants to join, while the Partnership program will be for those individuals and corporations that donate over $100 per year. The DMA’s intent is to open up the doors to the institution, “valuing visitors as essential to the museum experience while showing appreciation for visitor participation”.
One sentence of their blurb caught my eye. Through this new program, the Dallas Museum of Art seeks to “fundamentally change museums and the role they play in society.” That is a very big goal, and some might say that it’s just talk. Throughout my thesis research this semester, I have interviewed leaders in the field and one resounding response to questions about change in museums is that professionals know how to “talk the talk, but not walk the walk”. I recently visited the DMA and spoke with an educator about how the family and school programming will be affected by decreased admission and (an anticipated) increase in visitation. Her hope was that participatory experiences, like those found in the Center for Creative Connections, will be found throughout the museum so that a variety of visitors can interact with the art like never before.
Can the DMA taking membership and ownership roles in the museum to the next level? We will see when the changes roll out in January 2013!