IMD Think Piece by Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

One of the immediate needs during the recent closure of museums worldwide has been for digital platforms to stay connected with our audiences. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, launched Mori Art Museum DIGITAL, which will continue to evolve and develop after reopening.  While traditionally digital platforms have been considered more or less as a tool for promotion or documentation of exhibitions and learning programs, the new social distancing measures in place have inevitably emphasised their significance.  We now consider that the digital realm could become one of the major pillars of our future activities.

Over 70 years after André Malraux’s Le Musée Imaginaire, it is perhaps high time for museums to push digital platforms forward to explore diverse stories and contexts of works hailing from all around the world.  While we need to be mindful of the issue of the digital divide, Mori Art Museum DIGITAL, as ‘a museum without walls,’ allows those who are physically distant from the museum or in difficult circumstances to visit the museum; to encounter artworks from a range of times and places.  A digital platform is a great tool for learning about contemporary art for schools around the globe, as we can learn not only about art itself, but also about the world.  There will be a number of obstacles to tackle, including the issue of multi-language translation, and most museums will probably need to develop digital infrastructure as well.  Still, the digital realm does have significant potential for bringing different ethnicities, genders, and other diverse communities together – and it shall function in parallel with ‘real’ experiences in the museum (physical) space.