Democratising Cultural Institutions

What could new democratic institutions look like, if we started by asking what is the best way of taking collective public decisions? What would new democratic spaces - both physical and virtual - look like to help fulfill these principles of genuine equality and inclusion?

DemocracyNext and Design & Democracy are collaborating on groundbreaking Citizens’ Assemblies on democratising the museum, as well as exhibits on the history and future of democracy with major museums in Bonn and Dresden.

The exhibits are scheduled to open in spring 2024 at the Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) in Bonn and in 2025 at the Dresden Kunstgewerbemuseum / SKD (Decorative Arts Museum), showcasing historical artefacts such as ballots, posters, parliamentary architecture, as well as exploring the ways in which the democratic paradigm is currently undergoing transformation.

In the lead-up to the exhibition launch, each institution is commissioning a Citizens' Assembly that will take place in autumn 2024 about democratising the museum - living out the ideas that are being explored in the exhibition itself. The process and the outcomes of the Citizens' Assembly will be presented in the exhibition and implemented by the host institution.

Both the exhibits and assemblies will pose questions raised by the last few decades of turmoil in democratic processes and institutions. Traditional systems are in crisis, and tend to incentivise short-termism, re-election, and risk avoidance to the detriment of long-term thinking, the public good, complexity, and innovation.

What could new democratic institutions look like, if we started by asking what is the best way of taking collective public decisions? What would new democratic spaces - both physical and virtual - look like to help fulfill these principles of genuine equality and inclusion?

Designing Democracy is intended to show how all of us can be and are already part of this transformation, from the museum audience to the museum itself. Enacting the democratic exercise that it proposes, Designing Democracy aims to transcend traditional curatorial practices. In this way, democracy becomes not only the subject of the exhibition but also the method of exhibition-making.

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