I need little encouragement to try and draw parallels between football and museums. The sad death of Johan Cruyff last week, caused me to reflect on the wonderful Dutch team of the 1970s. With Cruyff as captain and under the guidance of manager Rinus Michels, the Netherlands espoused Total Football, a fluid dynamic system which produced some of football’s most sublime moments.
In Total Football no outfield player is fixed in a predetermined role; anyone can successfully play as an attacker, a midfielder and defender. Tactical success depends largely on the adaptability of each footballer and the ability to switch positions depending on the on-field situation. Players are required to be comfortable in multiple positions. This relies on high levels of technical skill and physical demands on players.
(Read David Winner’s Brilliant Orange for a full exploration of the relationship between the genius of Dutch football, art, environment and concepts of space)
So can we create a Total Museum, where every team member is comfortable in multiple roles? A team in which curators can be entrepreneurial and fund-raise, in which business managers could deliver learning sessions, in which conservators can work on the front line and in which the director could serve in the café.
The public must also be part of the Total Museum.
Amongst the original principles of the Happy Museum project is the notion that resilient communities and organisations are ones which learn together. The active citizens of the future will be those who are adaptive, empathetic systems thinkers – precisely the qualities which the experience of informal, non-judgemental and fun museum learning can stimulate.
Moreover (as noted in previous blogs) the most relevant institutions of the future will be those which are open, democratic and which derive authority from the participation of citizens. A Total Museum won’t just rely on the staff being able to do each other’s tasks but will be a genuine network eschewing hierarchies. It will at once enable creativity and collectivism.
So I’m looking forward to the transcendent museum moments to compare with the Cruyff turn, Arie Haan’s 40 yard belter against Italy in 1978 and the first four minutes of the 1974 world cup final when their German opponents first touch was to pick the ball out of their own net.
There was a lovely exhibition in Amsterdam Museum in 2012 Johan & Ik a collection of photos and stories of people who had met the great man.