European Museums in the 21st Century : Setting the Framework


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European Museums in the 21st Century : Setting the Framework



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European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework
Vol. 3
Books European Museums
in the 21st Century:
Setting the Framework
Volume 3
edited by Luca Basso Peressut, Francesca Lanz
and Gennaro Postiglione
Books European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — v iv — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
mela book 07 – European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the framework (vol. 3) European Museums in the 21st Century:Published by Politecnico di Milano
Setting the Framework
© February 2013, The Authors

This work is provided on line as open access document under the terms of Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. The work is protected by
æ volume 1copyright and/or other applicable law. Any use of the work other than as authorized under
this license or copyright law is prohibited. For additional information http://creativecom- 1 – National History Museums
isbn 9788895194332 Museums as Agonistic Spaces
Clelia Pozzi
Te Museum and Radical Democracy
Chantal Moufe
This Book ensued from the Research Project MeLa - European Museums in an age of migra- 2 – Natural History Museums
tions, funded within the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (SSH-2010-
5.2.2) under Grant Agreement n° 266757. Museums of Natural History in Europe
Project Officer: Louisa Anastopoulou
Fabienne Galangau-Quérat, Sarah Gamaire and Laurence Isnard
Museums in France
Florence Baläen
Escape from Bureaucracy
Giovanni Pinna
Constructing a Highly Citizen-Oriented Refection
mela consortium Interview with Judith Pargamin
Politecnico di Milano (Coordinator), Italy – Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design,
Denmark – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche ITIA, Italy – University of Glasgow, United 3 – Ethnographic and World Culture(s) Museums
Kingdom – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain – Muséum National d’Histoire
Naturelle, France – The Royal College of Art, United Kingdom – Newcastle University, Ethnographic Museums: Towards a New Paradigm?
United Kingdom – Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’ Orientale,” Italy.
Exhibition-ismenglish editing
Ilaria Parini, Tim Quinn, John EkingtonMaria Camilla de Palma
graphic design Cultural Diference and Cultural Diversity
Zetalab — Milano
Nélia Dias
National Museum of World CultureFrancisco J. Rodríguez Pérez and Cristina F. Colombo
Interview with Klas Grinell
legal notice The views expressed here are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not [S]oggetti Migranti
necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission. Interview with Vito LattanziEuropean Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — vii vi — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
æ volume 2 Acknowledgments
4 – Migration Museums
Migration Museums in Europe
Anna Chiara Cimoli
Museum and Nation
Joachim Baur
Te German Emigration Center
Simone Eick
5 – City Museums Tese books grew out of the work of the Research Field 6 “Envision-
ing 21st Century Museums,” led by Luca Basso Peressut and Gennaro City Museums in Transition: a European Overview
Postiglione, Politecnico di Milano, within the European project MeLa– Francesca Lanz
European Museums in an age of migrations. MeLa is a four-year inter-
City Museums: Do We Have a Role in Shaping the Global Community? disciplinary research project funded in 2011 by the European Commis-
Jack Lohman sion under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities Programme
International Networking Projects and the Web (Seventh Framework Programme). Adopting the notion of “migration”
Interview with Marie-Paule Jungblut as a paradigm of the contemporary global and multicultural world, MeLa
refects on the role of museums and heritage in the twenty-frst century.
Te main objective of the MeLa project is to defne innovative museum æ volume 3
practices that refect the challenges of the contemporary processes of glo -
6 – Local Museums balization, mobility and migration. As people, objects, knowledge and
information move at increasingly high rates, a sharper awareness of an Local Museums as Strategic Cultural Forces for 21st Century Society
inclusive European identity is needed to facilitate mutual understanding Elena Montanari
and social cohesion. MeLa aims at empowering museums spaces, prac-
Local Museums of the Future tices and policies with the task of building this identity. MeLa involves
Hugues de Varine nine European partners—universities, museums, research institutes and
7 – War Museums a company—who will lead six Research Fields (RF) with a collaborative
approach, and this book is meant to report about the preliminary fndings Narratives of Conficts: Architecture and Representation in European War Museums
of the frst research phases. Luca Basso Peressut
Te editors would like to thank all the scholars who enriched this book 8 – Temporary Exhibitions
with their suggestions and contributions as well as all the museums and
Forms of Collecting / Forms of Hearing their staf, curators, directors, designer and architects who kindly pro-
Marco Borsotti vided information, images and drawings supporting our investigations.
Exhibiting History Amention goes to the English editors and translators, and to Elena
Paolo Rosa, Studio Azzurro Montanari, Cristina Colombo and the staf from POLIMI, who essen-
tially contributed with their help to the editing of this book. Interviews with: Anna Seiderer, Galitt Kenan and Marc-Olivier GonsethEuropean Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — ix viii — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
Te project’s Research Field 6, Envisioning 21st Century Museums—
which is developed in parallel to and in consultation with the other fve
project research areas—is aimed at pinpointing innovative models, prac-
tices and tools to further the role of European museums in promoting
new democratic and inclusive forms of citizenship, contributing to foster
dialogue between the diferent ethnic, religious, social and generational
groups which characterise our societies, and furthering awareness and
education among new citizens and young generations.
While the investigation and the consideration of the role of contempo -
rary museums and heritage has nowadays become a relevant component
of the European agenda and lively debate on the subject is gaining prom-Introduction inence, nurtured also by several research projects and academic studies,
European Museums: Mapping an Ongoing Change museums themselves are questioning their raison d’être and roles, and
undergoing a process of deep transformation of their missions, strategies,
practices, spaces and exhibitions.
Te present books collect the work of MeLa Research Field 6, Envision-
ing 21st Century Museums, and are meant to illustrate the preliminary re-
sults of its earlier investigations aimed at mapping and exploring such a
transformation process and its features, particularly in terms of architec-
ture renewal, museography and exhibition settings. Te frst phase of this
research feld thus focused on the possibility of mapping current trends in
Te MeLa Project, funded in march 2011 by the European Commission contemporary European museums in order to set up an overall picture of
under the Seventh Framework Programme (Social Science and Humani- the state of the art of museum development in relation with the abov-e
ties) is a four years long reserch project, which aims to investigate the mentioned issues and questions. Its activity has been aimed at defning a
efects of contemporary phenomena such as globalisation, demographic general framework for the development of subsequent research phases,
movement, transformation of migration patterns, increased mobility of that are the identifcation of strategies and practices to support a renewed
people, as well as of objects, ideas and knowledge on the form, organisa - and increased role for museums, and the revision of their contribution in -
tion, mission and status of museums, and to explore the likely potential building a democratic inclusive European citizenship through practicable
role of museums in the construction of an inclusive European identity by and efective intervention by EU policy-makers and the institutions work-
facilitating mutual understanding and social cohesion. ing in cultural and educational felds. Tis research has been investigating
diferent categories of museums, individuated as those which better repre-Adopting the notion of “migration” as a paradigm of the contemporary
sent the current status of European museums, including: national history global and multicultural world, MeLa refects on the role of museums
museums, ethnographic museums and museums of cultures, migration and heritage in Europe in the 21st century. Te project aims to investi-
m city museums, local museums, and war museums. Because of gate how, and to what extent, changes in population fows and demog-
the relevance of some museographical practices in the representation of raphy, the impact of new media, the consequent layerisation, complexi-
the evolution of contemporary museums, the research activity has been fcation and fragmentation of societies and identities and, perhaps more
extended to the transversal topic of temporary exhibition design. importantly, the recognition of the central focus of such changes to the
human experience of life and society in modernity, do, could and should, Due to the large quantity of gathered materials, the publication has been
afect European museums. Focusing on the transformation of museums, divided into three volumes, each of which is organised into sections cu-
seen as cultural spaces and processes as well as physical places, the main rated by a MeLa reseracher including a piece by the MeLa researchers
objective of the MeLa project is to identify innovative museum pra-c involved in the investigation, contributions from scholars and museum
tices that refect the challenges posed by what the project defnes as “an practitioners, interviews and the presentation of signifcant examples of
age of migrations”—an age characterised by intensive migration fows; museums which are new, have been renewed or are under renovation.
accelerated mobility and fuid circulation of information, cultures, ideas Particular attention has been paid to their architectural and exhibition
and goods; the political, economic and cultural process of creation and design, which is intended as concretisation of innovative and sometimes
consolidation of the European Union, and the consequent high degree of highly experimental ideas of what we defne as “new museography,” new
cultural encounters and cross-fertilisation. models of representation and communication of knowledge.European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — xi x — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
Te frst volume opens with an overview on the evolution of contempo- Sarah Gamaire and Fabienne Galangau illustrate the transformations of
rary national history museums, analysing how globalisation, migration these institutions, triggered by a powerful increase in the awareness of en -
phenomena and their efects have challenged these places of stabilisa- vironmental issues along with their social consequences, the biodiversity
tion, where identities are formed and displayed, and their transforma - crisis, and the development of new interdisciplinary research approaches.
tion fostered into inclusive arenas of multiculturalism. By considering Te piece explores how these phenomena have questioned the role of nat-
the representation of national identity as a political act in the sense out- ural history museums and exhibitions as sources of knowledge and play-
lined by political theorist Chantal Moufe—acknowledging the aim of ers in the conservation and validation of scientifc and natural heritage,
democracy in a pluralistic condition as the possibility of transforming and investigates its evolution, benefting from technological progress and
antagonism into agonism, and creating unity in a context of confict and communication techniques, as well as from growing knowledge on visitor
diversity, as explained in the complementary text—Clelia Pozzi assumes expectations. By reporting the results of a recent survey developed by the
the so-called “agonistic pluralism model,” which Moufe had previously authors, the text sheds light on the dynamism of these institutions and
coupled with art museums, and applies it to national history museums. their commitment to renovation projects, especially those aimed at includ-
Her investigation of these institutions as “Agonistic Spaces” explores and ing diversity in cultural representations of nature. Tese considerations are
exemplifes the museological, museographical and architectural transla- supported by Giovanni Pinna, who questions the role of bureaucracy in
tion of this model, illustrating the modalities in which migration and its the evolution of natural history museums, and of Judith Pargamin, direc-
agonistic efects may enter the rationale of these museums, a category tor of the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Lille, who ofers a highly citizen
which, more than others, seems to have been subjugated by coercive in- oriented refection on the renovation project of the museum.
terpretations of states and regimes and, moreover, she redefnes their role,
strategies and spaces from within.
In the second volume, the investigation begins by focusing on more lo-
Te review of the role of museums as places for the presentation, sta - cal facts, bonded and rooted in specifc communities, their stories and
bilisation and construction of identities is also crucial in ethnographic identities. Anna Chiara Cimoli attempts to map out and analyse the rise
museums, which have been profoundly challenged by the mutation of of a huge constellation of migration museums and temporary exhibitions
the contemporary political, social and cultural context. Te beginning of that focus on the relationship between migration and identity. By investi-
the 21st century represents a turning point for the role, objective and gating museological strategies, museographic tools and exhibition design
strategies associated with these institutions, reacting to the evolution of trends that characterise this museum typology, the piece investigates the
the colonial “west and the rest” model, as well as the efects of globalisa- specifcities, implications, difculties and risks of displaying present and
tion increasing cultural diversity and cosmopolitanism. Challenged by past mobility. By investigating how museology and museography choices
the claim for identity recognition and, at the same time, the demand for can reveal, explain or, in some cases, gloss over the cultural policies and
an egalitarian representation of cultural diferences, the transformation the more general local, national or international political attitudes to-
of these institutions, aimed at displaying cultural pluralism, seems to aim wards migration, the piece aims to verify whether these institutions act
at erasing colonial roots by turning the ethnographic approach into an as history museums, or whether they are evolving into vehicles to orient,
aesthetic one, or by giving voice to minorities in the representation pro- educate, and participate in political debate. Tis exploration is comple-
cess. Trough the comparative analysis of the diferent progress of new, mented by the positions of Joachim Baur, highlighting the ability of mi-
re-established or refurbished institutions, Camilla Pagani and Mariella gration museums in building a master narrative as a choral epic and a so-
Brenna investigate the reasons, the nature and the extent of the current cially unifying experience, promoting a sense of community, representing
process of renovation, from institutional redefnitions to museological the diversifcation of cultural identities, and fostering societal integration.
approaches, and categorisation of museums of world culture(s). Te in-
Te rise of migration fows discloses a profound transformation of the terpretation is also bolstered by interviews with some museum workers
current socio-cultural context which museums purport to represent, co-who are directly involved in this process. Tese include Maria Camilla
operating with other phenomena to enhance the role of certain locations, de Palma, director of the Museo delle Culture del Mondo di Castello
especially cities. While updated demographic forecasts envision that in D’Albertis in Genoa, Klas Grinell, curator at the Museum of World Cul-
the next 30 years the growth of the world’s population will mostly be ture in Gothenburg, and Vito Lattanzi, Director of the Educational De-
concentrated in urban areas, the new economic and cultural opportuni-partment at the Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografco “L. Pigorini,”
ties ofered by globalisation, the fuid mobility occurring at the European in Rome, and by the theory contribution of Nélia Dias, Associate Profes-
and world-wide level, together with the ongoing political, economic and sor at the Department of Anthropology at ISCTE-IUL, in Lisbon.
cultural processes of creation of the European Union, are deeply infu -
Te evolving socio-cultural context also poses a challenge to museums of encing the development of contemporary cities posing both new changes
natural history. Tese museums have radically changed over recent dec- and challenges. It is widely believed that, within this complex scenario,
ades in their relationship with what is at stake in society. Laurence Isnard, European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — xiii xii — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
glocity museums, as institutions historically responsible for representing specifcities, raises pivotal questions and proposes paradigmatic models
the city, recording its transformations and conserving its memory and and practices for their future.
history, could and should, contribute to these transformations in several Among the most signifcant national and local museums, the institutions
ways. Francesca Lanz investigates how city museums are reacting to these ensuing from war memories and places are becoming crucial elements in
stimuli, questioning themselves, rethinking their mission, acquiring new heritage discourse. Luca Basso Peressut considers the many European
roles and experimenting with new tools and strategies. Te piece aims museums that focus on war and its various representations, identify -
to outline this transformation process in order to interpret it, defne its ing two distinct situations. On the one hand, there are still in existence
features, identify commonalities, challenges and possible criticalities, and representative models typical of museums of weapons, of armies, and of
analyse the museographical aspects related to such changes. Tese con- military history, which were set up between the second half of the 19th
siderations are endorsed by the contribution of Jack Lohman who, as century and the beginning of the 20th century. On the other hand, he ob-
former director of the Museum of London, argues for the role of city serves that in recent decades there has been an increase in museums that
museums as the endogenous development of communities in their diver- are committed to emphasising how Europe needs to critically reinterpret
sity and shaping of the global community. Te interview with historian its past and the conficts that have marked it, both in a tangible and an
Marie-Paule Jungblut, former deputy-director of the Musée d’histoire intangible way, overcoming the “divided memories” that have dramati-
de la Ville de Luxembourg, adds refections on the crucial role of in- cally marked the populations of the European continent as an essential
ternational networking projects and the web for the advanced role of requirement to build the political and cultural identity of Europe. With
contemporary city museums, while diferent examples of a “new genera- their tools and representation devices, museums dedicated to the his-
tion” of city museums presented by curators and directors, supports the tory of European wars are committed to the raising of such awareness
refections outlined in the opening piece. through a “policy of memory” that, with no sacralisation or vulgarisa-
City museums focus their mission on the past and present history of tion, must involve all cultural institutions, including those devoted to the
the described urban environments. Nevertheless, a large number of other education of younger generations. Tus, Basso Peressut suggests the role
museums drawing on the distinctive nature of specifc locations are likely of war museums is crucial in the process of building and consolidating a
to play a signifcant role in the contemporary context. shared European memory and identity. Moreover, war museums convey
the transnational value of those events that are part of a common history
that transcends any geographical border, contributing to a better under-
Te third volume focuses, on the one hand on very local museums and, standing of the importance (and fragility) of peace and freedom, and of
on the other hand, on war museums and temporary exhibitions in na- the establishment of the European Union based on mutual respect and
tional museums and it somehow comes full circle in this publication. As on the rejection of war as a solution to controversies.
explained by Elena Montanari, the diferent institutions who aim to con-
Te fnal chapter by Marco Borsotti analyses the role of temporary exhi-serve, validate and “matrialise” the memory, heritage and culture related to
bitions in the dynamics of approaches of museums to innovative topics. specifc places, are characterised by the employment of specifc tools and
Temporary exhibitions can be identifed as signifcant strategies in the strategies, which may turn out as particularly efective means to foster the
promotion of new approaches to the portrayal of museums, as well as in role of museums as inclusive social agents in this “age of migrations.” Al -
the search for public interest in media, and in the possibility of gener -lowing for their status, forms and means, and variation according to their
ating income, image and prestige. Today, temporary exhibitions are also diverse backgrounds, management structures and conceptions of heritage
visible manifestations of an educational, informative or celebratory dis -and identity across diferent countries and cultures, local museums seem
course, which is characteristic of the rapid changeover in the communica-to share a common mission in preserving, interpreting, celebrating and
tion rhetoric of contemporary society. Furthermore, temporary exhibition presenting the visible symbols produced by human history in a specifc
models can also be expressed in dazzling experiences of cultural innova-environment. In addition, they also perpetuate the origins and sources
tion, leaving permanent displays with the more accustomed role of keep-of cultural heritage, opposing resistance to the efects of globalisation
ing continuity with historical portrayals and settings. Tis can be consid-and the increased migrations of people, objects and knowledge, which
ered a strategy for the renewal of the representational assets of museums.include impoverishment and distortion of habitats and cultures, stand-
ardisation of space, homogenisation of material culture, dispersion of
collective memory, etc. as well as assert continuity and stability through Te overall aim of this investigation was to detect how, and whether,
secure and rooted values, contrasting the disorientation of self-awareness European museums in their diverse range of interests are reacting to the
and enabling societies to defne and anchor their identity. Te potential, topics and issues of our “age of migrations” and to the changing condi-
challenges and risks currently pertaining to these institutions are further tions of production and fruition of culture, memory and identity. As A-p
depicted through the words of Hugues De Varine, who outlines their padurai already noted almost twenty years ago, it is increasingly evident xiv — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
that globalisation is not the story of cultural homogenisation, and that
contemporaneity is more and more characterised by a high degree of
cultural encounters and cross-fertilisations. We are in agreement with
the philosopher Wolfgang Welsch that the traditional description of cul -
tures based on the ideas of ‘inner homogenisation’ and ‘outer separation’
is nowadays both descriptively and, in terms of legislation, inappropriate.
Our analysis of new exhibition spaces and arrangements in museums of
national and local relevance (a distinction which currently proves to be
very blurred and perhaps to be overlooked), seems to suggest that the rise
and the inclusion of new stances and approaches toward the role of mu-
seums and the narratives it puts on display are starting to foster not only a
revision of the curatorial practices of museums and approaches but also of Volume 3those consolidated exhibition design practices and museum organisation
that refected a premise of objectivity and reality and a traditional con-
ception of identity as unique, homogeneous, and geo-politically defned,
that is today brought into question by the shifting nature of contempo -
rary cultural conditions in our contemporary “age of migrations.”
LBP, FL, GPEuropean Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3) — 531 530 — European Museums in the 21st Century: setting the framework (vol. 3)
765 7bO–Te 7 Billion Others ProjectTable of Contents, Volume 3
Interview with Galitt Kenan
771 “Fetish Modernity,” Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium
Interview with Anna Seiderer
777 MEN-Musée d’Ethnographie de Neuchâtel
Interview with Marc-Olivier Gonseth
viii Introduction Case Studies
“7 billion Others Project”
533 Local Museums “Fare gli Italiani 1861–2011”
535 Local Museums as Strategic Cultural Forces for 21st Century Society “Fetish Modernity”
Elena Montanari “Helvetia Park”
575 Local Museums of the Future “Destination X”
Hugues de Varine “Figures de l’artifce”
Case Studies
823 Index of Authors and Editors, Volume 3 Écomusée du Val de Bièvre, Fresnes, France
Musée Dauphinois, Grenoble, France
Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino, Trento, Italy
Museo Storico della Resistenza di Sant’Anna di Stazzema, Italy
Knowledge Centre of the Castle of Sagunto, Spain
637 War Museums
639 Narratives of Conficts: Architecture and Representation in European War Museums
Luca Basso Peressut
739 Temporary Exhibitions
741 Forms of Collecting/Forms of Hearing
Marco Borsotti
759 Exhibiting History
Studio Azzurro, Paolo Rosa