This collection explores ideas of audience engagement in relation to museums, drawing upon Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s idea that design speculations can promote discussion and debate, as well as proposing alternatives to the ways that things are now. Speculative design might be used to explore how museums can be reconfigured as social platforms. It can also be used to imagine forms of experiential encounter that privilege estrangement and unexpected or critical perspectives. If speculative forms can be catalysts for redefining reality, what are the implications for how concepts of audience engagement might be imagined in and around museums and other spaces of collection and display? How can interpretative tools be applied to collections? How can dialogue and discussion be stimulated? Can exploring design through problems rather than solutions encourage agency and action in museum audiences? Are there effective techniques for responding to social and environmental challenges that speculative encounters in a museum can offer? The collection offers a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together people from different fields to explore these questions. This collection is unique in bringing discussions of speculative design, science fiction and museum engagement together in a set of detailed considerations, building new relationships and possibilities. The aim is to prompt a deepening of theoretical consideration, as well as helping to model practical situations and encounters. This issue is guest edited by Dr Dan Byrne-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Theory, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.

Special Collections