The Possible Museum: Anticipating Future Scenarios

  • Bridget McKenzieEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


In this paper, the author proposes that the climate emergency makes it imperative that museum teams should do more frequent and rigorous work of imagining the future. The context of climate change, and disinformation about it, are outlined in order to underline the urgency of this ethical and practical imperative. Envisaging future scenarios in both imaginative and evidenced ways, and then planning for adaptation according to what is imagined, could be called ‘anticipatory work’. Museums should embrace this work because of their trusted role and their duty to preserve heritage into posterity. A museum committed to anticipatory work could be defined as a ‘Possible Museum’, or, one which serves the public by contributing to the possible continuation of biodiverse and civilised life. The future Possible Museum will take an ethical path, validating indigenous voices and proactively engaging communities to shift towards more regenerative lifeways. As the author is a consultant responding to needs of organisations through tendered contracts, she has been unable to carry out controlled academic studies. As such, this is a propositional paper drawing on 15 years of engaged reflection on culture and climate change, and on her promotion of ecologically-informed anticipatory work, in particular Scenario Planning, which she describes in detail. The author has researched to discover the current extent of anticipatory work in museums, internationally. While Scenario Planning is common across other sectors, the author has found little evidence of its use by museums. That said, she found that museums are beginning to anticipate futures in various other ways that are public-facing, rooted in places, imaginative and optimistic. McKenzie concludes that these examples, and initiatives such as the Happy Museums Project and growing awareness of Ecomuseums, increase the likelihood of more rigorous anticipatory work being done in future.


Climate change Imagined futures Anticipatory work Scenario planning The possible museum Ecomuseums 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flow AssociatesLondonUK

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