During the disruptions and shutdowns of the past two years, cultural institutions redesigned their physical spaces and overhauled their operations. Now that normal activities are slowly resuming, they plan to retain the best lessons learned during the pandemic to maximize attendance and reimagine their role in the community.
More diverse audiences mean cultural spaces need to be agile enough to accommodate different groups of people. Design plans for cultural institutions are keeping versatility in mind to provide experiences to visitors from widely varying backgrounds and incorporate them into the mission. Spatial flexibility is now fundamental to the design of museums and cultural spaces.
Most institutions opened outdoor spaces during the pandemic out of necessity. Now, they’re here to stay after organizations realized the benefits. In the coming years, venues will renovate outside areas to offer a wider range of attractions and accommodations, essentially becoming extensions of their main facilities. This also helps “future-proof” the operations of venues in the event of further disruptions.
Cultural institutions realize that their mission must include visitors who traditionally have not been on their radar. Museums are designing new spaces dedicated to more diverse communities and appointing executive staff who can sincerely cater to overlooked audiences.
Greater relevance is fueled by a greater audience — whether in-person or online. Many venues discovered that virtual spaces were another pandemic pivot that grew their visitor base beyond the usual boundaries. Now, cultural pillars like the Louvre are erasing geographic limits by opening their entire collections to anyone with an Internet connection.
“The reality is that people who visit museums come from lots of different demographic backgrounds. And more casual visitors to museums are more diverse across different demographic criteria than more frequent museum visitors.”
The community-driven museum highlights Newark’s history of activism against racial injustice and provides a focus for community aspirations. Gensler worked with the City of Newark to convert the 1st Police Precinct, the flashpoint of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, into a community museum dedicated to learning, healing, storytelling, and an equitable future.