Coworking Spaces, Accelerators and Incubators: Emerging Forms of Museum Practice in an Increasingly Digital World

Murphy, Oonagh. 2018. Coworking Spaces, Accelerators and Incubators: Emerging Forms of Museum Practice in an Increasingly Digital World. Museum International, 70(1-2), pp. 62-75. ISSN 1350-0775 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Digital technologies have begun to radically disrupt museum business models. With more information available online today than ever before the role, purpose and ‘usefulness’ of museums, have been called into question. John Cotton Dana promoted the idea of a useful museum in the early 20th Century. As director of Newark Museum, he envisioned museums as beneficial for cities to own and he sought to bring art, science and industry into a conversation with each other. One hundred years on, a range of museums are creating in-house startup hubs, for creative entrepreneurs to work, collaborate and create within their museums. In doing so these museums are reimaging Cotton Dana’s vision for the useful museum into one that is fit for purpose in this digital age.

This research focuses on three museums who are responding to the disruptions wrought through the proliferation of digital technologies by redefining the role, purpose and practices of their museums, and indeed the wider understanding of what a museum is and could be. By developing a space for creative entrepreneurs within their museums, Te Papa (New Zealand), New Museum (USA) and ACMI (Australia) are redefining what a museum of the 21st century could be.

Through a series of semi structured interviews with senior managers at these museums this paper examines the strategic, practical and theoretical implications that these spaces, commonly referred to as ‘startup hubs’ have on museum practice. This research provides an analysis of an emerging mode of museum practice as a means to support museum professionals and academics that seek to critically engage with digital culture and emerging business models in museums.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Digital culture, coworking, incubator, accelerator, startup hub, diversifying income streams, Creative entrepreneurship

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


30 July 2018Accepted
11 January 2019Published Online
December 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2018 15:08

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 05:57

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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