Video: Museumhive Hangout with Elizabeth Merritt,

Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, spoke with us about how museums can tackle migration, the empathy deficit and what the world might look like in three hundred years. Tune in below!


0:00 Opening remarks and introductions.

4:24 Elizabeth begins by talking about her Trends Report, museums and futurism.

7:04 Elizabeth talks through the five major themes highlighted in the 2017 Trends Report: Empathy, Criminal Justice reform, Artificial Intelligence, Migration, and Failure.

10:48 Elizabeth dives deeper into the topic of empathy. There’s a lot of research that there has been a 48% decline in empathy in America.

12:02 Empathy is like a muscle, there are practices that might be able to cultivate more empathy.

12:33 Elizabeth discusses the traveling exhibit “A Mile in My Shoes.”

13:24 Elizabeth discusses the human library.

14:00 Elizabeth explores empathy as an outcome or goal for museum exhibits.

15:00 Elizabeth moves onto migration, and its motivating factors.

15:45 Elizabeth discusses “climate refugees” in the U.S.

16:37 Technical difficulties!

18:15 Elizabeth discusses the ways museums have been able to help natives understand the cultures of new populations in their countries.

19:00 Elizabeth stresses the importance of community awareness among museum professionals.

21:49 Q&A begins. Question: how did the ‘A Mile in My Shoes’ exhibit accommodate people in wheel chairs?

22:57 Technical difficulties!

24:36 Q: How did you identify that we are in an empathy deficit?

28:12 Follow up — the story of the empathy gap lacks metrics. Is there a way for museums to produce and measure empathy?

32:30 Follow up — Qualitative measurement for wellbeing as it applies to

34:07 Q:Can you talk a bit more about the theme of failure?

41:04 Q: How would you recommend small museums might be able to scale down ambitious concepts?

44:00 Q: Relevance and taking a stand are topics that keep coming up in our conversations here. What do you think about these two issues in the museum context?

48:56 Follow up — We didn’t talk about migration that much in this dialogue. What do you think about museums taking a political stand?

54:43 Q: Can you talk a bit more about futurism?

56:30 Thank you and goodbye!

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?

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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

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