Museums Can Help Invent a Better Future and Save the World

National Public Radio recently concluded a series entitled, “Museums In The 21st Century,” exploring the history of the nation’s museums and looking ahead to the future.One of the more thought-provoking stories in this series, “Interactive Games Make Museums A Place To Play,” highlighted the Center for the Future of Museums’ inaugural lecture by Dr. Jane McGonigal, a researcher and games designer with the Institute for the Future, who has been called the “guru of alternate reality games.” She believes the ideas people imagine today are the keys to the planet’s future — and that games have a way of pushing people to be creative problem solvers. McGonigal says museum-organized games can help invent the future and change the world, based on four elements that she claims we all need to make us happy:

1) Satisfying work to do;
2) The experience of being good at something;
3) Time spent with people we like; and
4) The chance to be a part of something bigger.

Indeed, Dr. McGonigal challenges the museum community:

“The fate of humanity hangs in the balance over whether we’re going to get crowds to do anything useful or not.”

Listen to the 8-minute NPR story linked above and/or save the date: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, 1 p.m. EST when the Center for the Future of Museums will webcast a lecture by Dr. McGonigal on “Gaming the Future of Museums.” Participants are encouraged to put together group viewings, download the associated discussion guide and participate in online chats and activities associated with this free webcast. You can register (for free) here.

Of related interest, the Center for the Future of Museums recently released a new report: Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures. Learn more and download a PDF of the paper here.

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