Thriving Museums, Healthy Communities: Reflection on MuseumExpo

As a returning attendee to the American Alliance of Museums’ MuseumExpo, this year’s theme “Thriving Museums, Healthy Communities” was a vibrant celebration of new growth in the industry. For all of us in the museum community, this event in Baltimore highlighted our vital role in community development and our commitment to fostering healthy, thriving networks.

Whether you were a first-time attendee or a seasoned pro, MuseumExpo delivered countless opportunities to connect, learn, and innovate. Among the standout features were the NeighborHub Meetups, which provided perfect gathering spots for institutional leaders to discuss hot topics like upcoming exhibits. It was thrilling to hear that new exhibits are no longer just a hope but a reality, with funding secured and plans underway. CEOs and Directors shared invaluable insights on navigating requests for proposals, while others discussed how their internal teams are forming professional partnerships to bridge capability gaps in exhibit production. Conversation on the expo floor revealed such high interest in exhibit topics that an additional table had to be added to accommodate the demand. Here at Exhibit Concepts, we’re gearing up for a surge in exhibit proposals, marking a shift from planning to active production and preparation of new exhibits.

In addition to museum’s post-Covid resurgence, MuseumExpo’s theme emphasized the holistic impact museums can have on community health and well-being. By shifting the focus from specific illnesses to a broader understanding of health, the show highlighted how museums play a crucial role in enhancing overall quality of life. The 2022 CultureForHealth Report in Europe underscores this, stating that “arts and cultural approaches can have a role to play in the management and treatment of illnesses…cultural and arts-based methods can prove effective as healthcare responses in their own right.” As museums look to add new programming, AAM highlights that “living in a community with cultural resources confers a five-year advantage in cognitive age,” demonstrating that museums significantly boost cognitive health.

Museums attract more visitors than professional sporting events, making them powerful influencers in their communities. They are dedicated to ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to their expanding array of programs, such as those for children on the autism spectrum, ESL learners, and adults with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments. Similarly, in recent years, Exhibit Concepts has noted a growing demand for multi-sensory experiences and accessible exhibits, with museum leaders prioritizing accessibility from the outset.

Overall, MuseumExpo’s 2024 show left attendees enlightened, empowered, and ready to champion their roles as key influencers in the health and well-being of their communities. The future of museums is not just bright; it’s transformative, promising a wave of new exhibits and innovative programming that will enrich and uplift communities everywhere.

Picture of Aaron Scarlata

Aaron Scarlata

Aaron blends a passion for architecture, with sales, account management and environmental design experience. He aligns resources to strategically plan memorable experiences for clients while helping to promote and further their mission. Aaron’s role at Exhibit Concepts is focused on guiding clients through the company's methodology, capabilities, and creative and production processes.


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