Museum Ecologies Reconsidered: Cultural Value in the Web of Life

Invited talk for University of Macau International Hybrid Symposium: Memory, Meaning and Value

9 December 2022


In the face of rapid environmental breakdown and increased social and political uncertainty, cultural institutions around the world have mobilised to imagine alternative ways of living on and with the planet. This talk will argue that such shifts indicate more than simply a change in policy or practice, and instead point towards a fundamental reorientation of culture in the web of life. By focusing on the historical formation and evolving place of museums in this web, the talk will explore how museums have contributed to the planetary crisis through specific symbolic and material practices, but also how emerging approaches in the field might help to unravel some of the more destructive aspects of this entanglement. What might be gained if we begin to consider all museums as always co-constituted through nature? How can new museum strategies contribute to planetary flourishing?