Museum Conference: “The Future is Now: Evolving Museum Strategy, programming and Communication.”

Benaki Museum – Pireos Street Annex
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 10:00 – 16:30

On December 4, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, the Benaki Museum and the British Council are organizing the conference “The Future is Now: Evolving Museum Strategy, programming and Communication.

At the fourth annual Museum Conference, museum professionals, independent curators, and artists from Greece, the UK and the US will discuss making the museum of the future.

Museums and other cultural institutions are often located in august buildings that imply the ability to shrug off any pressure to change.  But that’s an illusion: they are the product of social and economic forces and remain subject to the shifts in those forces.

Take technology.  A few years ago, when we held the first of these conferences, the Tate and the Met had major websites, but their presence in social media was negligible.  Now both are leaders in audience engagement.  Then there’s money.  Museums cost.  The Metropolitan and Tate host their collections in multiple branches and operate on multimillion dollar budgets. Where does the money come from and where does it go?

Strategy is what gives direction in the squall.  How does a museum examine its purpose, rethink its core programming, and renew its audience?  How should a museum use tech to engage with the audience without losing sight of its original vision?  How do people running museums decide what is meaningful growth, and what’s growth for growth’s sake?

Cynthia Round, Senior Vice President of Marketing and External Relations for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will talk about the new global brand of the museum and its strategy in programming and communication. Prior to joining the Met, Cynthia oversaw brand strategy and marketing for United Way Worldwide, the world’s largest non-profit, which raises $5 billion annually across 40 countries. She began her career in brand management at private international companies and has guest-lectured on global branding and social marketing at Yale, Columbia, NYU, and Georgetown.

Susan Sellers, Head of Design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will present the ways in which design may redefine the brand identity of a museum, exhibition programming and visitor experience, physical or digital.  Her past collaborations have included the Guggenheim Museum,the Brooklyn Museum, the Harvard Art Museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the American Academy in Rome, the Fondazione Prada,Novartis, Nike, MTV, Knoll and Vitra. She has taught and lectured widely,including at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Sam Thorne, Artistic Director of Tate St Ives, will talk about the development of the museum’s strategy and its efforts to attract young generations of visitors and supporters. He has co-founded Open School East, an independent study programme for artists in East London. He has organised a number of international symposia, lectures and music programmes, including Frieze Talks in New York (2013), and has chaired and convened talks at Tate Modern and the Serpentine. He is a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, London, and a contributing editor at frieze magazine.

Representatives from Greek museums and cultural institution will also contribute to the discussion

Representatives of major Greek museums and cultural institutions will join the conference discussion.

Admission is free, on a first come-first served basis.  There will be simultaneous interpretation into Greek and English. Registrations will begin at 9:00 a.m.

The detailed program of the conference will be available online (, and on December 1.

On Friday, December 5th, the conference will take place in Thessaloniki, at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, 10:00-17:00, in collaboration with the State Museum of Contemporary Art,

the Five Museums’ Movement in Thessaloniki, the U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki and the British Council. Admission will be free, on a first-come,first-served basis.  There will be simultaneous interpretation into Greek and English.