Aspen Art Museum presents talk on future of museums

András Szántó
Photo credit Patrice Casanova
If you go... What: Architecture Conversation: Hans Ulrich Obrist & András Szántó Where: Rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum When: Sunday Feb. 19 4:00 p.m. More info: This event is FREE and open to the public. Registration encouraged.

What is the future of museums in our global society?

That is the question András Szántó and Hans Ulrich Obrist will will discuss on the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Szántó advises museums, foundations, educational institutions, and corporations on cultural strategy and program development. Obristwill is the artistic director of the Serpentine in London, senior adviser at LUMA Arles, and one of the foremost authorities on art in the world today.

They will reflect on how today’s generation of architects is working to re-invent the art museum.

Szántó’s book, “Imagining the Future Museum: 21 Dialogues with Architects,” is a followup to his 2021 book, “The Future of the Museum: 28 Dialogues,” in which he interviewed 28 of the world’s leading museum directors about the potential of art museums as “spaces for change and democracy.”  

In “Imagining the Future Museum,” he turns his attention to the architects who have built some of the world’s most iconic institutions to discuss their thoughts on how the physical structure of museums must evolve to accommodate our changing cultural landscape.

“ICOM, the world’s federation of museums, earlier this year announced a new definition of the museum,” he said. “The most important phrase, on the very first line, was that this is an institution in the service of society. That idea runs deep. Museums have long aspired to be democratic and open. But they have a long way to go in making everyone feel truly welcome. Architecture can — and must — be a major part of that solution.”

Several of the architects featured in the book have been showcased in the Serpentine’s visionary summer Pavilion commission series, including Kunlé Adeyemi, Frida Escobedo, Sou Fujimoto, and Bjarke Ingels, as well as this year’s recipient, Lina Ghotmeh.

Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Photo by Lukas Wassmann

“There are many ways to make a building that is accessible,” said Szántó. “Perhaps the most important — and most challenging — issue is giving the visitor a sense of agency, that they get to define their experience in the museum. As one of the architects in the book put it, a museum should feel like a garden because there is no one way to experience a garden. A museum should be your home away from home.”

He said the future of museums is dependent on how well institutions can not only adjust to global cultural shifts and more inclusive architecture, but also how they evolve in terms of their “programming, collections, exhibitions, staffing, and the definition of their roles.”

Museums are already making important strides in putting themselves at the center of conversations about art and culture, he said, but he expects that more will need to be done to ensure that museums remain essential.

“Will the museum stay at the center of conversations around art when the art in question consists of pixels and networks?” he asked. “Will it remain that central hub if it doesn’t make people feel at home? I wouldn’t have done this book if I didn’t believe that museums 10-20 years from now can still maintain, and improve, their position as indispensable institutions in society.”

If you go…

What: Architecture Conversation: Hans Ulrich Obrist & András Szántó
Where: Rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum
When: Sunday, 4 p.m.
More info:

This event is free and open to the public.
Registration encouraged.

More Like This, Tap A Topic