How a museum can drive positive social change

How a museum can drive positive social change
AlUla is being transformed into the world’s largest living museum but it teaches us more than just history

“Our past is our cultural history,” declared Jennifer Stockman, an emeritus trustee at the Guggenheim Foundation, “and it offers a deeper appreciation of our collective ancestors and a humbling reminder of our place in the universe.”

Ms Stockman was discussing the role of museums in our future alongside five other prominent experts from the art and museum world, including president of Arab World Institute Jack Lang, AR Art Advisory co-founder Raneem Farsi, EPFL Pavilions director Sarah Kenderdine, Uffizi Gallery director Eike Schmidt and AFALULA’s scientific director Jean Francois Charnier.

The webinar, titled At The Crossroads: The living museum as a barometer of social change, sought to examine the relevance of museums in the world today and how they can be a driving force for social change.

The reason? The world’s largest living museum is currently being built at AlUla, a desert region in north west Saudi Arabia that’s steeped in some 200,000 years of human history.

Designed to incorporate as much of the natural landscape as possible into the narrative, the partially open air museum will feature galleries that showcase the breathtaking views alongside the art, archaeological centres that offer a deeper understanding of the ancient kingdoms that existed here thousands of years ago, and innovation hubs providing a source of creativity that will survive long into the future.

Behind this transformation is the ambitious 15-year Journey Through Time Masterplan, which is aiming to not only bring millennia of history to life but also foster a sustainable future for the region.

That means having developments that are environmentally sound, by harnessing renewable energy, reducing and reusing waste and new water management and farming practices.

Social and economic concerns aren’t neglected in this masterplan. These are addressed through targeted education, innovation hubs and creative centres.

Ultimately it’s about integrating all the components of sustainability into the development of AlUla to ensure its legacy will survive long into the future.

It’s in this context that the panelists are examining how a living museum like AlUla can be a measure of change as well as a driver of change.

In the space of an hour and 15 minutes, the panelists shared their insights into how museums fit into our modern narrative, how they can celebrate traditions while creating new ones and how to create this enduring legacy.

Watch the full discussion above.

Learn more about AlUla and the Journey Through Time Masterplan here.