University of Exeter
Malraux’s concept of the “museum without walls” informed us about the museum as a concept or a construct that is not dependent on any particular place or time. It referred to the museumization processes in our modern societies, i.e. our streets, cities etc. becoming ever more museum-like. Today many museums are going under refurbishment and rebranding to fit themselves into the 21st century consumer culture. It is seemingly a time of crisis/opportunity for many of them because they have to lead the refurbishment processes without having to loose their customers. Times are fastening and refurbishments seem to eventually become a normal procedure that museums, just like many other basic institutions like banks or schools, will have to face every couple of years, if not more often. So, the museum seems to eventually have to literally be without walls. Museums are looking for immaterial ways of rebuilding themselves in the hope that they will be able to make necessary changes more often and with less burden.
Going under a huge refurbishment and rebranding process, the story of the RAMM tells us a lot about how a museum can literally work without walls. While being shut down, the museum takes its collections to many different interest groups and keeps its relationships up and running with them. The museum is becoming ever more immaterial, using the Internet and other technological sources and extending its boundaries to become a global player. The museum is using the refurbishment process as an opportunity to come together with many people from around the world, not being restricted to the people from Exeter (even though it has initially been built up as a local museum). Some staff members say that the refurbishment process itself
has brought them together to work in a single office where they can see and interact with each other and form a renewed sense of unity.