August 1, 2012

Museums as Design Innovators


Over the past 15 years, many museums have witnessed changing demands, including high volume traffic, new ways of presenting old material, and new themes. Accordingly, how to better


with this growing, more diversified public is on everyone’s minds.

“Innovation is at the heart of museums today,” says Julien Anfruns, director general of the

International Council of Museums

(ICOM), an organization founded in 1946 to support good practices in acquisition, conservation, and more. Anfruns credits tourism growth as the primary impetus for advancement: “There’s a big population exchange all over the world today.”

“It’s not just about contemporary art,” Anfruns continues, citing Vienna’s Museum of Contraception and Abortion, and Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships. “A museum is also about ideas, intellectual concepts, and the evolution of a community.”

A community that prefers to participate (hence the global touch-screen mania) rather than simply observe and ponder prompts even classic, exhibit-rich museums to create more engaging environments. Anfruns concludes that all this has led to “increasing importance for the role of architecture in the building of museums, including interiors and exhibition spaces.”

Even so, can the museum as an institution keep up with our endless appetite for technological devices? We’ve identified 10 that answer with a resounding yes.


Museum Aan de Stroom in Antwerp, Belgium


Museo del Risparmio in Turin, Italy


Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art? in Doha, Qatar

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas

Riverside Museum

Riverside Museum: Scotland’s Museum of Travel and Transport in Glasgow

Recent DesignWire