FAMSF Launches Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable, a New Forum for International Museum Leaders

Mar 22, 2023

Museum building against a blue sky

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Joins with Leading Bay Area Art Museums to Create a New Forum for International Museum Leaders, the Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable (MTR)

MTR Inaugurates Its Program with a Public Symposium with the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University on April 21, 2023: Can technology transform systems of power within culture and its institutions?

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2023—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (“Fine Arts Museums”) have initiated a new forum that convenes international and local museum leaders in the Bay Area for sustained dialogue on the complex challenges and opportunities that museums are facing today. Organized and hosted by the Fine Arts Museums in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Gray Area, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and San José Museum of Art, and in partnership with cultural strategy advisor András Szántó, the Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable (MTR) is rooted in the Bay Area’s history and spirit of cultural and technological innovation. MTR aims to encourage and amplify dialogue across the museum and technology industries and to generate a lasting peer network. 

“As museums become more democratic, community-focused, equity minded, culturally inclusive, and experiential in parallel to a rapidly evolving technological landscape, dialogue among peers and across industry lines is critical,” the Fine Arts Museums director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell. “The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are committed to stimulating engagement with the art and ideas of today, and one of the ways we can better serve this mission is by catalyzing the exchange of ideas with international museum leaders who are pushing the field in new, inclusive directions. We are thrilled to inaugurate the Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable, bringing together a group of international and local museum leaders in San Francisco, one of the world’s most important incubators for both culture and technology, and are grateful for the support of our partners. We especially thank our colleagues at Stanford University, who have graciously offered to arrange and host a public symposium exploring the ways in which technology can shift dynamics of power within the cultural sector.”

For its first convening—MTR 2023—the forum will invite directors from trailblazing museums in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia to the San Francisco Bay Area. Taking a learning journey across the collaborating Bay Area art institutions and participating tech companies, the group will explore and discuss how emerging media are affecting museum operations, how immersive experiences can inform museums moving into the future, how museums can support artists working with emerging technologies, how museums can prepare for and participate in the metaverse, and how rapid advancements in AI will impact museum infrastructure, programming, and operations. MTR 2023 will culminate in a free public symposium on Friday, April 21 at Stanford University, where members of the academic, museum, and artistic communities will explore the question: Can technology transform systems of power within culture and its institutions? 

“We are in a decisive moment when museums and digital innovation are converging as never before. Arts institutions must forge deeper connections with the technology sector to stay relevant. The MTR will create a much needed bridge between leaders in the tech and museum sectors to collaborate and understand each other,” said cultural strategist András Szántó. “Over the course of a week, MTR will provide museum directors an opportunity to engage in focused, candid conversations and to grow a trusted peer network to call upon once they return to their home institutions.”

Museums of Tomorrow Public Symposium
Friday, April 21, 2023, 10:00am–4:00pm PST
Clark Center Auditorium and Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University

MTR participating directors from several continents will present along with leading artists and experts. The topics will center on the role of technology in shaping the power structures that are defining art and culture, and its role in the future of museums and other cultural institutions. 

“The Cantor believes in the critical power art has to help extend the frontiers of knowledge, stimulate creativity, and solve real-world problems,” said Veronica Roberts, the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. “We are delighted to provide a platform for museum leaders from around the world to gather with an engaged public to test ideas and open conversations about the ways in which technology can better serve our cultural institutions.”

10:00–11:30 am PST, MTR Museum Directors Presentations

Sonia Lawson
, Director of the Palais de Lomé in Togo–an ambitious renovation, cultural and environmental project which opened its doors in 2019–was entrusted with the conception, management, design and oversight of the transformation of the former Governor’s Palace into a center for art and culture after it lay abandoned for more than 20 years. 

Kamini Sawhney, Director of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore, India, has brought together a young, inspired team that is focused on creating a new museum experience for audiences in India. In leading this founding team, Sawhney has helped shape a vision for MAP that seeks to inspire people to interact with art in ways that encourage humanity, empathy and a deeper understanding of the world we live in.

Seb Chan, Director & CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, was previously a key part of the team behind a renewal project at the organization underpinned by co-design methodology, which transformed ACMI into a multi-award winning, multiplatform museum. He is currently the National President of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association.

1:30–3:00 pm PST, Artist and Stanford Faculty Presentations 

Adam Banks, Faculty Director of Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts; Professor in the Graduate School of Education; Professor and Faculty Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, affiliate faculty member of the African and African American Studies Program, the Science, Technology and Society Studies Program and the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Program in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences.

Mimi Onuoha, Brooklyn-based Nigerian-American artist creating work about a world made to fit the form of data. By foregrounding absence and removal, her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation and video to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities' different relationships to systems that are digital, cultural, historical, and ecological.

Glenn Fajardo, Stanford d.school faculty member who explores how we can be creative together when we are far apart and in different cultural contexts, through classes such as Design for Learning and Design Across Borders and as a collaborator who engages in social impact work with people and organizations across many continents.

The program will be presented live on the Stanford campus from the Clark Center Auditorium and will be live streamed via webinar. Free event ticket reservation here. Webinar link will be provided upon registration for those who wish to attend remotely. A free all-day ticket reservation is also required to visit the Cantor Arts Center.

If you need a disability-related accommodation like ASL, please contact cantor_education@stanford.edu. We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance of the event date.

Each session will be recorded and accessible for later viewing on the Fine Arts Museums and Cantor Arts Center YouTube channels.

Participating International Directors, Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable 2023

Zeina Arida, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar

Meriem Berrada, Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech, Morocco 

Seb Chan, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia

Tania Coen-Uzzielli, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

Amanda de la Garza, Museo Universitario Art Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico

Hou Hanru, formerly of Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome, Italy

Sabine Himmelsbach, Haus de Elektronischen Kunste, Basel, Switzerland

Sonia Lawson, Palais de Lomé, Togo

Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

Suhanya Raffel, M+, Hong Kong

Kamini Sawhney, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore, India

Philip Tinari, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China

Maria Wills Londoño, Banco de la Republica Art Museums, Bogotá, Colombia

Participating Bay Area Directors

Thomas P. Campbell, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco (Organizer and Host)

Sayre Batton, San Jose Museum of Art 

Christopher Bedford, SFMOMA, San Francisco

Veronica Roberts, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford

Barry Threw, Gray Area, San Francisco

Monetta White, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco

Jay Xu, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

András Szántó, Consulting Director MTR, and cultural strategist

More information about participating directors, and hosting institutions can be found here

Museums of Tomorrow Roundtable Organization
MTR is organized and hosted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Gray Area, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and San José Museum of Art, and in partnership with cultural strategy advisor András Szántó.

Major Support is provided by Adobe, The Fieldwood Fund, Rebecca Henderson, and Zenni.

Significant Support is provided by John Pritzker Family Fund.

Media Contact Helena Nordstrom, Director of Communications, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, hnordstrom@famsf.org, or 415-465-3531