Why Morocco is the best place to discuss the future of museums
Morocco is one of the next big destinations for the museum sector. Below, I'll outline why - and the reason that We Are Museums, the event I helped create, has been working on building a strong presence there for the past few months.
There is no capital city in Morocco. Rabat is the institutional center, while Casablanca is the economic hub. Then we have bustling Tangiers in the North, slated to become one of the most exciting cities in the Mediterranean with its multiculturalism and urban creativity. And then, there’s Marrakech, seemingly your typical touristy city, but it's actually so much more, which has seen a slew of museums openings in recent years and has welcomed the first iteration of 1:54, the Biennale of African contemporary Art last February.
I could go on about the diversity of Morocco because in the process of organising We Are Museums this year I have had to hit many cities repeatedly.
There is no center in Morocco, but cities vying for who will be the next cultural beating heart in their country, and actually well beyond.
We Are Museums has been dedicated to emerging cultural hubs since 2013 and is visiting Africa for the first time after events in the Baltics, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Each year, we handpick the best practitioners who reshape cultural venues whether through leadership, technology, human interaction or inclusivity.
While arguably the past year’s two biggest names in terms of openings - namely Zeitz MOCAA and Louvre Abu Dhabi- will be sharing their vision with 300 attendees from 24 countries, this edition has been more broadly the occasion to rethink the type of content we want to share, with intangible heritage making its big entrance at We Are Museums, courtesy of experience a different environment. Ecosystems helps make and remake museums and Africa, we feel, will help create a whole new museum for the 21st century. It won’t be a white cube and it won’t be something off a previous template. But it will be very exciting to watch.
With Moroccan institutions such as the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden and the Hiba Foundation who focuses on collecting intangible heritage, we have tried to incorporate what we have seen in the past months and what has made a difference for us as practitioners and certainly for more people in the future. Diversity does not stop here as this edition will be our first bilingual one.
Of course, leading European institutions will be represented with advocates of a socially purposeful museum such as the Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries or the Louvre and its art library project, Louvre at home. The Van Gogh Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum will present their best practices in social media as well as agile ways of working together. And we will get a taste of the future with the first museum entirely in virtual reality, the Kremer Museum. Polish institutions we have loved ever since we visited Warsaw like the Emigration Museum in Gdynia will share how they create stories out of absence while the Living Museum of the Sea of Palermo will tell about people in Sicily whose lives revolve around the ebb and flow.
We Are Museums will welcome budding Moroccan entrepreneurs who want to work in culture, future professionals, researchers, innovative gallery owners, collectors on top of extremely senior professionals and we are very happy with this mix of people.
Creating Mediterranean interactions has been key for us this year. Next year we hope to extend newly collected knowledge to Africa and be able to share it with our audience again.
There is something to be said about taking the road less travelled. The innovative work by African institutions remains under-documented and we hope to be a part of this effort, through We Are Museums.
Claire Solery is the Co-Founder and Director of We Are Museums.
Find more info about the event, and the 50 speakers: www.wearemuseums.com/wam18