The central garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Photo: Aqwis. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Is the concept of soft power useful for museums?

Simon Stephens, 02.08.2017
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The third annual survey of global soft power, which is described as the ability to achieve objectives through attraction and persuasion, has been released by PR agency Portland Communications in partnership with Facebook.

The Soft Power 30 shows that the UK has maintained its 2016 ranking of second, although it has a lower overall score than last year. France has risen to first after being fifth last year, while the US has fallen from first to third. Germany and Canada are at fourth and fifth respectively.

The release of the Soft Power 30 is accompanied by a report, which includes an article, The Soft Power of Museums, written by Gail Lord, the chief executive of consultancy Lord Cultural Resources.

“The transfer of museums from agencies of government to civil society institutions over the past 40 years has led to their increasing soft power,” Lord writes. “As a consequence of their place in civil society, museums have acquired new roles, responsibilities and opportunities such as: stimulating the knowledge economy, attracting talent to cities, generating jobs, positioning cities and regions as tourism destinations, raising nearby property values and elevating civic pride.

“Museums become more prominent as soft power platforms when they amplify civic discourse, accelerate cultural change, and contribute to cultural intelligence among the great diversity of city dwellers, visitors, policy-makers and leaders.”