The Museum’s Fourth Future


It is a widely accepted trope that museums work for future generations. They often define themselves in relation to heritage: something of the past, which is celebrated in the present and securely preserved for the future. In doing so, museums cloak themselves in a shroud of respectability for appropriately thinking in short and long terms and bravely facing future challenges. But what kind of future is at stake in this imperative to secure a heritage for future generations? Taking on a deliberate speculative tone and a philosophical outlook, this essay attempts to address this question by suggesting that museums organize their work on the basis of three futures, entirely riveted to an economic understanding of temporality. Against these, the essay also proposes a fourth future that not only gives impetus to their existence, but also provides them with the only way out of the economic temporalities that govern their existence.


museum future, cultural heritage, museum curation, temporal economy, museum management, speculative philosophy, hope

How to cite:

Martinon, Jean-Paul. “The Museum’s Fourth Future.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 7, no. 1 (2023):  103-124. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2023.0007.


Jean-Paul Martinon
Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, University of London
New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK


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