AAM's Center for the Future of Museums to Explore the Challenges of Engaging an Increasingly Diverse America in Webcast

Towards a New Mainstream?, a scintillating lecture by Gregory Rodriguez, op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, explored demographic change in the Americas, cultural transformation and the future of museums. The lecture and webcast were sponsored by LearningTimes.

Noted Thinker and Columnist Gregory Rodriguez to Examine the Meaning of ‘Mainstream’ in Jan. 27 Webcast
Washington, DC, 11/27/2009 – Issues of ethnicity, immigration, assimilation and how America’s museums need to find new ways of engaging a changing society will be explored in the second annual Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) lecture, December 9, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at the Canadian Embassy (501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). The lecturer is noted author and Los Angeles Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez, one of America’s foremost thinkers on national identity, social cohesion and race.
“America’s museums face immense challenges right now, ranging from the overall economy to national education policy to incorporating new technology, but none surpasses that of connecting with an increasingly diverse population,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “This is job one in order for museums to fulfill their overriding mandates of education and public service.”
Rodriguez’s lecture, titled “Towards a New Mainstream?,” will explore how “mainstream” is being re-defined in a multiethnic, multicultural nation. This transformation is a primary focus of CFM. In January, CFM published its inaugural forecasting report,  Museums and Society 2034, which included an examination of dramatic demographic shifts already underway in America. As the report notes, demographers project that the U.S. will be a majority-minority society by 2034 — and museums must act quickly to forge ties with populations different from their traditional audiences.
CFM has also commissioned a research paper from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago to explore these monumental demographic shifts in more detail. Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums: Trends and Implications will be published in May 2010.
CFM was created by the American Association of Museums (AAM) in 2008. As the largest service organization in the museum field, AAM works on behalf of all types of museums — art, children’s, history, natural history, science and technology centers, historic sites, zoos, aquariums and botanical and public gardens. The CFM charge is to envision how society will shape museums and how museums can shape society.
Rodriguez is an Irvine Senior Fellow and Director of the California Fellows Program at the New American Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute based in Washington and Sacramento. In addition to a regular column in The Los Angeles Times, his work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He is the author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America (Pantheon, 2007), which The Washington Post listed among “the best books of 2007.”
“Museums need to start thinking about who will be coming through their doors in 30 years,” said Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of CFM. “Gregory Rodriguez is a provocative, visionary thinker who can help museums prepare for this future.”
The December 9 lecture will be webcast by CFM on January 27 at 2 p.m. EST. To register, please visit the CFM website, where you can explore the future year-round: The museum profession and the public can also connect with AAM at its Web site,
This lecture was sponsored in part by LearningTimes.
About the American Association of Museums:
The American Association of Museums (AAM) has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 15,000 individual, 3,000 institutional and 300 corporate members, AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit
About the Center for the Future of Museums:
The Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) helps museums explore the cultural, political and economic challenges facing society and devise strategies to shape a better tomorrow. CFM is a think-tank and research and design lab for fostering creativity and helping museums transcend traditional boundaries to serve society in new ways.
November 27, 2009  |   LearningTimes Press Coverage

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