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ASEF Unplugged - Singapore

The role of museums in the 21st century

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
Andrea ABELLON Culture Department ASEF Unplugged - Conversations on the Arts in Asia and Europe Culture

Asian Civilisations Museum

ASEF Unplugged - Conversations on the Arts in Asia and Europe

The role of museums in the 21st century

As repositories of collections and works, and as centres of learning and knowledge open to the public, the role of museums changes as societies evolve. In recent years, many museums have increasingly promoted participatory activities, used technology to digitise and present their collections, collaborate among them and enable more active user engagement, and have reflected on their social and educational value. In many places, museums can be seen to contribute to strategies in economic development and in urban and regional regeneration and sustainability. From an external perspective, they also face increasing demands to be accountable and to respond to social and political issues, as recent debates on colonialism and the return of objects, and on private sponsorship of exhibitions have shown.

How does the function of museums change when information and knowledge, from all sorts and in many formats, become increasingly widespread? How can they compete with the extensive offer of cultural, educational and leisure activities available in our cities and countries? What are the drivers and the challenges for collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders, including schools, community groups, and public authorities? As public funding decreases in many countries, what are the implications of reliance on private sponsorship, e.g. in terms of programming and accessibility? How can museums continue to balance continuity and change, in a world that is constantly evolving? What priorities can be established for international museum cooperation in this context?

These are some of the questions that will be addressed at the 13th edition of ASEF Unplugged, a discussion on the role of museums in the 21st century. The conversation is part of the 'ASEF Unplugged – Conversations on the Arts in Asia and Europe' event-series, an initiative of ASEF, which offers open and authentic peer-to-peer conversations on themes of mutual interest.  This 13th edition of ASEF Unplugged results from the partnership between ASEF and the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM). Some of the museums involved are members of the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS), a network currently chaired by the ACM and which ASEF has supported since its inception in 2000.



Ms Ann FOLLIN (Sweden)

Director General

National Museums of World Culture


Mr Manuel RABATE (France)


Louvre Abu Dhabi


Mr Kennie TING (Singapore)


Asian Civilisations Museum


Moderated by:

Ms Anupama SEKHAR

Director, Culture

Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)


When & where:

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

18:30 - 19:00 - Reception

19:00 - 20:30 - Conversation




To keep track of event updates, follow us on social media #ASEFculture and #ASEFunplugged


  • Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS)
  • Asian Civilisations Museum (Singapore)