Call for Proposals

Future of Museums Summit

Call for Proposals

The Future of Museums Summit call for proposals is open May 15 – July 12, 2024

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

The virtual 2024 Future of Museums Summit will take a deep dive into the latest issue of TrendsWatch, the Alliance’s annual forecasting report.  In this second iteration of the Summit, AAM is hosting an open call for proposals for sessions examining culture wars, decarbonizing the future, advances in artificial intelligence, and combatting loneliness.

Sessions may address any of the following TrendsWatch topics:

Culture Wars 2.0

Pressure is building along fault lines that segment communities, funders, policymakers, and museums’ own staff, boards, and volunteers. How can museums help move their communities away from division and towards connection and understanding? How can they illuminate shared values and issues on which people broadly agree? What choices do they face in avoiding or engaging in a given conflict, and how will these choices shape the future of museums and society?

Some examples of topics proposals might address:

  • How attacks on DEI, book bans, and higher education are affecting museums, the impact on museum operations, exhibits, and programs, and tips on how to avoid or respond to these pressures.
  • How to lead productive, civil conversations, with communities and inside museums, on contentious topics.
  • How to prepare staff to anticipate and respond to organized protests.
  • Emerging legislation that may impact museum content, policies, and operations.

AI Adolescence

In the past decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has leapt from the realm of science fiction and tech culture into our everyday lives. Most recently, generative AI is disrupting the work of creators, upending education, and performing key tasks in white collar work. Some feel AI poses an existential threat to humanity–others forecast that it will quickly retreat into specific, narrow applications. What is AI, is the hype justified, and how can museums make informed judgements about this or any other emerging technology? What are the practical applications and implications for museums in the short and long term?

Some examples of topics proposals might address:

  • How to create museum policies, including an ethics framework, guiding the use of artificial intelligence.
  • How to integrate AI, including AI-powered text and image generators and AI assistants, into museum work.
  • How museums can help educate the public about AI, and make informed choices for society and for their own lives.

Decarbonizing the Future

The climate crisis poses an overwhelming threat to museums, the communities museums serve, and the material legacy of human civilization. Museums’ collections constitute a vast seedbank of human civilization. Protecting those seeds will entail a commitment to decarbonizing the future—replacing our dependence on fossil fuels with sustainable systems. How can museums decarbonize their own operations? How can they inspire people to take meaningful action in response to the climate crisis, even as they prepare to live in a profoundly disrupted future?

Some examples of topics proposals might address:

  • How museums are reducing their climate impact, from monitoring and controlling carbon emissions to implementing climate-friendly policies and procedures.
  • Exploring what “degrowth” might look like in museums. How might “less is more” supplant “bigger is better” in metrics of success?
  • Adapting standards (e.g., climate control) to be more environmentally sustainable.
  • Tools and resources museums can employ to reduce their climate impact.
  • How museums can inspire people to take meaningful action in response to the climate crisis.

Combating the Loneliness Crisis

In May 2023, Dr. Vivek Murthy released Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. Such advisories are issued to address “significant health challenges that require the nation’s immediate awareness and action.” The report also offered recommendations for how cultural organizations can help combat this epidemic.

Some examples of topics proposals may address:

  • How museums are creating programs and experiences designed to foster social connection and combat loneliness.
  • How museums can foster social connections and belonging in the workplace.
  • How museums are partnering with other community organizations to create broader community networks of support.
  • How museums are advancing public education and awareness on the topic of loneliness and its impact on mental health.
  • How museums are supporting specific communities, that are at particularly high risk for loneliness and depression, for example, young people, LGBTQA+ individuals, adults living alone, and people with disabilities.

FORMAT

  • Sessions will be scheduled for live presentation on October 29 and 30, 2024.
  • 1 hour virtual sessions.
  • Dedicated time for audience Q&A required
  • Sessions should include no more than three presenters (including the moderator).
  • Within those constraints, creativity is encouraged. Sessions might be pitched, for example, as discussions, debates, or dramatic presentations. Opportunities for audience involvement are also encouraged.

Tips on how to prepare a successful proposal

  • Read TrendsWatch: Navigating a Volatile Future to help identify how you might expand on this exploration of these issues.
  • Identify no more than three speakers for your session, including yourself or a moderator.
  • Assess your proposal against the following key questions:
    • Does this proposal directly address or respond to the themes in this year’s TrendsWatch, exploring the topics more deeply, challenging the report’s conclusions, asking provocative questions, or providing concrete examples of museums and museum professionals tackling these issues?
    • Does the proposal provide examples of how museums are responding or could respond to a given trend, and/or practical suggestions for actions museums can take?
    • Does it provide concrete, actionable recommendations and takeaway lessons for what other museums might do in response to these challenges? 

The Review Process

The Alliance’s Content Advisory Committee will accept submissions in response to this call for proposals between May 15 – July 12. A subset of the Content Advisory Committee, with expertise related to the themes in this year’s report, will review submissions and select a total of 16 sessions to be featured in the virtual 2024 Future of Museums Summit.