Museums around the world beckon visitors to explore new cultures and topics through their carefully curated collections and transcending exhibitions. But museums aren’t just places where we can learn about history and art, they also inspire us to think differently about society. While it’s easy for naysayers to dismiss museums as boring, many museums and cultural institutions have proven that their value is much more than just educational.
Whether it’s the Louvre in Paris or the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, top museums are known for creating exhibitions that challenge our views on culture and history. From art to science, the best museums in the world are redefining what it means to be a museum by focusing on the impact museums have on their visitors’ minds. In this way, museums have a lot to teach businesses about the art of customer experience.
A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage for the purposes of education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge. This is the selected definition adopted by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
The new ICOM definition puts the emphasis on a museum’s mission to be democratic, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about our common past. It also calls on museums to safeguard diverse memories and contribute to human dignity, social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing. The revisions are a welcome change from the old definition that had not changed in 30 years.
But despite the new language, the new ICOM definition is far from perfect. As the scene in Black Panther shows, museums still struggle to be welcoming spaces for people from marginalized communities. They often display artifacts with dubious origins, or talk about pieces from non-western cultures through a western lens. They can also neglect the indigenous knowledge that exists about their own collections.
Moreover, while the museums’ mission to serve their community is important, they still have an overarching desire to collect and display art that will bring them prestige. It’s not unlike the desire that companies have to be seen as trustworthy and authentic by their customers. This authenticity can be difficult for organizations to achieve, but it’s worth the effort.
The Musée du Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most famous museums. It is a French cultural institution that includes many works of art and archaeological objects from different periods of history, including the Mona Lisa. It is located in the heart of the city of Paris.
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This article originally appeared on Britannica and was edited by the editors at CxO to reflect the most up-to-date information available.