Museumhive meetup, 5/25: The Future of Museums: Empathy, Refugees, and Mass Migration w/ Elizabeth Merritt

We’re looking forward to our next meetup event featuring a Google Hangout with Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President, Strategic Foresight at the American Alliance of Museum and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums.

Larger trends in the world impact museums and their audiences, and the Center for the Future of Museums is at the forefront forecasting those trends in their annual Trendswatch report. Elizabeth will introduce the five trends impacting museums they’ve identified, and explore some of the implications of two of those trends: the growing empathy deficit, and the plight of refugees and others experiencing mass migration of populations.

  • How are museums addressing the “empathy deficit”?
  • How have some communities welcomed refugees as a resource, using immigration to spur economic development and reverse declining populations?
  • What are some simple first steps museums can take to address both of these issues?

Get a headstart and download your free electronic copy of the Trendswatch report here.

Schedule, Thursday 5/25:

6pm – 7pm: social hour with cash bar and music with co-host New England Museum Association
7pm – 8pm: Google Hangout with Elizabeth Merritt, with Q&A from the hive

Please register for the free event to give us a heads up on planning.


District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue Boston (near the ICA)



This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant MG-45-16-0029-16. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Museumhive also is grateful for support from District Hall, a dedicated civic space where Boston’s innovation community can gather and exchange ideas. District Hall offers a unique combination of open workspace, classrooms, assembly space, flexible use ‘pods’, and writable surfaces everywhere!  Also stop by for coffee and food at Brew and Gather.




Video: Museumhive Hangout with Beka Economopoulos: Museums and Environmental Action

Had a great Hangout with Beka Economopoulos, co-founder of The Natural History Museum, a popup museum in Brooklyn that is changing perceived boundaries around museums by taking exhibits and programs out on the road and collaborating with organizations. Beka encourages museums to take a position on issues such as environmental change to be more relevant to the communities they serve. “People love museums and want to see them live up to their visions.”


  • 01:00 Powerpoint: The Natural History Museum
  • 03:25 Reconnect to the living universe, past to present
  • 04:20 Re-evaluate role in the midst of profound environmental change
  • 04:35 About The Natural History Museum
  • 06:20 Making science and natural history relevant to people’s daily lives
  • 07:00 Helping museums get into a more engaged position with the communities they serve
  • 08:20 Point #1: Take a position. “Neutral” is not what visitors are looking for. MuseumNext Survey
  • 11:50 Cutting ties to the fossil fuel industry
  • 13:55 Point #2: Engaging impacted communities. Houston project, toxic tours.
  • 16:30 Operation Dinosaur air quality monitoring
  • 17:20 Point #3: Journey to the Living Universe
  • 18:00 Collaboration with indigenous community impacted by environmental change
  • 23:00 Question from audience: Starting a popup museum
  • 25:40 “Fake it till you make it” strategy
  • 30:50 People love museums, want to see them live up to their visions. Too often answer the holy grail of “relevance” with interactive apps
  • 33:50 Question from audience: How do you find collaborators/partners?
  • 35:15  Question from audience: How did you choose the name The Natural History Museum; and roles for high school students?
  • 37:40 Question: What’s the story of the van?
  • 39:00 Question: How did you arrive where you are?
  • 40:30 Need to “unfossilize” our institutions and embolden them
  • 41:10  Question: what was the reaction to the exhibit in Houston?
  • 42:30 Question: tell us more about your role in the March for Science
  • 48:50 Following your passion. If you’re excited about content and can get others excited, you’re 90% of the way there
  • 49:50 Funding: in taking a position you unlock new revenue streams, social change funders, foundations
  • 53:20 Wrap up: contribute to our continued discussions

Your thoughts? Post them to the hive below!…

Revised Hangout Prep Notes

Here we are, after a great event, and we’ve updated the way you can view the archived Hangout with Nina. Best way is to view it through our blog entry, so you can view the notes and add your own comments. Enjoy!

And, please, if you haven’t already, sign up for our e-newsletter in the sidebar – it’s the way we can follow up and send you the URL to the archived video and keep you posted about future events. Thanks!


Museumhive: Meetup on 10/26; Nina Simon Google Hangout

We may still be working on this site, but we’re moving full speed ahead with plans! Primed to have Nina Simon as our first Hangout guest talking with us about museums and relevance.  We’ll also be talking about the Museumhive plan where we collectively create documents about connecting museums and communities. 10/26/16 at District Hall in Boston.  The big picture: developing a model where colleagues across an industry meet up informally and develop community content that moves the field forward. Sign up for our e-Newsletter so we can keep you posted. Schedule:

  • 6pm to 6:45 social time with DJ and cash bar
  • 6:45 to 7pm Museumhive intro and overview
  • 7pm to 7:30 Hangout with Nina Simon, Q&A

Please register for the (free) event here to reserve your spot.

Museumhive proposal to IMLS is funded!

Happy to get word that our proposal to IMLS to explore the “generative meetup” has been approved — we’ll be exploring ways that informal social gatherings among professionals and emerging professionals can generate content beyond the event.  Here’s the summary found on IMLS’ website:

The New England Museum Association will explore the “generative meetups” concept by launching the Museumhive project. This new professional development model will connect regional museum professionals with thought leaders to create local content on topics of national interest to the museum profession. The initial theme will focus on “the distributed museum,” a museum not bound by its physical location but integrated throughout its community. The project will support six in-person meetups featuring presentations by national thought leaders talking about their work via live Google Hangouts. After each meetup, staff and volunteers will index and archive the Hangout video, summarize the event on a WordPress site, invite additional contributions via email and Twitter, and then prepare a short e-publication summary designed to help staff connect the topic to their own experiences at their museums. This experimental format for hive-created content will be shared with other museum associations for national replication.