Abstract: "To Design for the Future You Must Leaf Through the Past": Museums as Part of Systems of Innovation

Mary Rose and Lorraine Johnston

Abstract

Museums are not conventionally associated with innovation or viewed as part of innovation systems. After all, we could argue, museums are about the past, heritage, and nostalgia, whereas innovation is about the future. Yet, if this is the case, why does a company such as BMW co-locate its archive, museum, and innovation center? In this preliminary essay on the combination of past and present knowledge in innovation, we revisit the academic literature on innovation systems. We explore how, historically, museums and their collections have contributed to innovation and to the development of innovative designs. We ask: How have organizations set up to preserve the past contributed to the future, and what has encouraged and inhibited these processes? We focus primarily on nineteenth- and twentieth-century experience in the United Kingdom and on the relationships among the arts, design, and industry on the one hand and museum collections on the other.

BEH On-Line Paper