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MuseumFutures: the future of museums between architecture, democracy, entertainment, power, and failure

6 August 2020 marked the third anniversary of the passing of Martin Roth. In his honour, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is hosting the second Martin Roth Symposium. In cooperation with re:publica, the digital-analogue theme week will take place both online and locally at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin from 7 to 11 September 2020.

The second Martin Roth Symposium entitled MuseumFutures will take place at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin from 7 to 11 September 2020. As part of a re:publica Theme Week, international experts from the cultural, academic, artistic, and political sectors will discuss the current situation and present challenges facing museums as well as examine visions for the future. Those attending include David Adjaye (United Kingdom), Ines de Castro (Argentina), David Chipperfield (United Kingdom), Bice Curiger (Switzerland), Hartmut Dorgerloh (Germany), Elvira Espejo (Bolivia), Pi Li (Hong Kong), Małgorzata Ludwisiak (Poland), Benita von Maltzahn (Germany), Robin Reardon (USA), Kavita Singh (India), Philip Tinari (China), Krzysztof Pomian (Poland), Johannes Vogel (Germany) and Marie Cecile Zinsou (Benin, tbc). This year, as initiator and organiser, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is cooperating with re:publica GmbH.


Hardly any other institution is as challenged and shaped by social and cultural change as the museum. It not only has a long tradition as a place of collective memory, it has an obligation to react to the rapidly changing expectations of the public in order to be able to be an innovative place of the future.

At ifa’s (Institut für Auslandsbeziehung) invitation, and for the first time together with re:publica, the Martin Roth Symposium will provide a central international space for dialogue around essential questions about the future of the museum:

Which role can museums play as agora of democratic societies? What will the museum space of the future look like? Will it focus on proximity to the audience or entertainment? How to safeguard freedom of the arts and science between politics and capital?

Over five consecutive days, the invited speakers will develop visions and strategies for the museum of the future together with the participants in a series of digital formats. On 11 September 2020, the last day of the re:publica Theme Week, the results will be gathered and discussed in an analogue workshop. Interested participants can register for the Corona-compliant, hybrid event, where discussions and synergies between the participants and the actors of the programme will be facilitated.

The following topics are planned:

  • Museums and the Future: Museums as living spaces for a democratic, global, and open society, of representation and participation of all social groups.
  • Museums and Architecture: Historical and future forms of the museum space in which the public and artefacts, stories and interpretations meet and interact.
  • Museums and Failure: The importance of failure for museum self-reflection and the opportunities that learning from mistakes open for culture and society.
  • Museums and Power: The function of the public and private museum in society and its role as a place for negotiating the prerogatives of interpretations.  
  • Museums and Entertainment:  Accessibility, interaction, enjoyment, new tools and trends in the age of digitalisation.

This year’s symposium is hosted by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) in cooperation with re:publica and with Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Funded by Federal Foreign Office. More informationen here: