Bompas & Parr

Future of P-Leisure 2023

This year's report on the pleasures of public leisure focuses on the future of museums.
Future of P-Leisure 2023

What is the Future of the Museum?

London, 2023In this year's instalment of Bompas & Parr’s Future of P-Leisure, we plunge into all that is museological. 

Trash your preconceptions of what a museum has to be, in this report we strip museum experience back to its raw material, speculating on what the future of civic, public pleasure might be over the next decade and beyond. 

Beyond the rows of perfectly catalogued artefacts held behind glass, this is a study of museums as living, community-centre spaces that shape how we perceive the past, and where we might cultivate dreams for the future. 

At Bompas & Parr we love museums. We also consider museums to be at a moment of epochal shift - with pressures to decolonise the museum at a high point. This is a great thing - revealing exciting new creative domains for museums, their curatorial direction and experiential possibilities. 

Our trends for the future of museums: 

1. Polarised Personalisation 

We live in a time of increasingly polarised personalisation, with brands, business and consumers exhibiting a desire for experiences that either radically individualise or disperse our sense of self outwards into the collective. And yet, this rise in individualism is occurring at a time when things are, simultaneously, more collectively organised - user generated content, the sharing economy, subscription-based entertainment and, most recently, AI image and text generation. 

How is this push and pull between the individual and the collective playing out in museum experience? 

2. Super optimised Spatial Storytelling

Museums will deliver ever-more optimised storytelling experiences, making visitors anticipate the next instalment of their spatialised narratives, just as they might eagerly await the next season of their favourite streaming series. Gone are the days of passive observation and detached contemplation within museum walls. Museums must provide a compelling, emotionally motivated vision. 

3. The Anti-Museum 

Even the most mainstream museums are questioning the ethics and legitimacy of their very existence. This will initiate the ‘anti-museum’, a museum format that constantly questions and reinvents our preconceptions of what a museum is. This will affect our idea of a ‘collection’ - can a collection be entirely intangible? Can a museum be a particular way of walking down a street?  

4. The Ultimate Date Museum 

Young people are bored. Millions of people are lonely. Museum experience should be one of the things that steps in to combat this. Increasingly museums will become backdrops for ever more vibrant forms of togetherness. This is the museum as a way of stimulating new relations between people. 

5. Rollercoaster Pedagogy

Museum visitors are currently spending less time in large exhibitions - we hypothesise that this could be due to a lack of wayfinding, and storytelling to encourage visitors to traverse between exhibit items. What if museums enabled super fast experiences? What if visitors were given the means to travel from artefact to artefact at high speed? 

6. Endless In-betweens

Liminal spaces have become the source of immense interest online in the last few years. 2019 saw the emergence of The Backrooms - posts depicting eerily deserted in-between spaces such as corridors and waiting rooms. In line with this, we predict that the liminal spaces of museum experience will flourish in the coming years.

Download a full copy of the report here.