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2000/1 Summaries

From Nordisk Museologi 2000/1, SUMMARY pp. 47-55

Bruno Ingemann

Ten theses on the Museum in society

  1. The museum can tell stories with authentic objects
  2. The authentic objects can be presented in a new context
  3. Objects can construct an aesthetic experience
  4. An aesthetic experience can be created by the «text» and the visitor
  5. Objects can be seen as an artistic expression - a narrative
  6. A narrative may create mental images
  7. The narrative of society is built upon myth and symbols
  8. The museum may communicate the narratives of society
  9. The museum is in society
  10. Society is in the museum.

Bruno Ingemann, ph.d., lektor ved Kommunikation, Roskilde Universitetscenter.
Adr. Kommunikation, Roskilde Universitetscenter, Po. Box 260, DK-4000 Roskilde
Fax +45 46 74 30 75
e-mail: bruno@ruc.dk

From Nordisk Museologi 2000/1, SUMMARY pp. 56-64

Bruno Ingemann

A Man in Ancient Times

Is it possible to find people in the Antiquity Section at the National Museum of Denmark? There are of course the visitors. But what about traces of the people of ancient times and the relations they may have had with each other?
In twenty-three rooms filled with 10 000 objects there is only one representation of people - a pictu­re in an exhibition case of two red Vikings fighting.
Here I meet a man. The only one embedded in the objects.
The main point is that as a visitor I am transfor­med into an object. Number 10 001. I am myself nearly placed into an exhibition case.
My objectification takes place in three ways:
firstly by walking through the enormous accumu­lation of objects;
secondly the fact that as a visitor I am addressed as an object - i.e. without feelings and values;
thirdly by the absence of human relations. And that is the most important way. I can see traces of human activities: traces of the crafts person in the stone axes, the pieces of jewelry and the swords; I may be surprised by the trephined skulls but there are very few traces either of the humans who had relations with each other or of the kinds of relations they may have had.
We can see experience as consisting of four fields: the knowledge field, the action field, the emotional field and the value field (Gjedde&Ingemann 1999). Almost the only field that is activated in the exhibi­tion is the knowledge field. And even this happens in a very objective and distant way. If we accept the theory of inner narratives e.g. that all we hear or read or see is understood through a narrative struc­ture, then in the context of the objects the written text and the visual representation in the concrete showcase and in fact the whole exhibition provides . practically nothing that can function as cues for the visitor on which to construct his or her inner narrative.
The American museologist Sheldon Annis (1987: 171) believes that «The magic that makes museums so attractive may lie in the flexibility with which people create their own space. Museums are more than the sum of their labels and their designed order. Like the objects in them, museums do not have a meaning. Rather, they accept and reflect the meanings that are brought to them.»
This statement can be seen as a version of a post­modern thinking where the creation of meaning is located in the visitor. On one level I agree with that point of view but it does free the museum from having a goal. The museum is not only an exhibition of objects. The museum is arrangement and commu­nication within a society (Ingemann 2000a).
The exhibition case with the Vikings and the swords and axes creates and supports the myth of the Vikings as warriors, robbers and rapists or at least there is nothing that calls the myth into question. As a visitor you may bring this preconceived knowledge with you and the exhibition will activate an understanding that will confirm your preconception.
The experience fields of emotion and value and action are almost untouched by the exhibition except in so far as a visitor has a stereotypical experience.
Exhibited objects need interpretation to unlock their stories. It is necessary to construct narratives and a clear attitude to the stories to be told is required.
The unlocking and telling are not in the objects themselves but in the placing of the objects together to create versions - spiritual and material - of how man sees the world and the objects in the world.
The idea of leaving the creation of meaning total­ly to the visitor is to recreate the himself as an object.

Bruno Ingemann, ph.d., lektor ved Kommunikation, Roskilde Universitetscenter.
Adr. Kommunikation, Roskilde Universitetscenter, Po. Box 260, DK-4000 Roskilde
Fax +45 46 74 30 75
e-mail: bruno@ruc.dk

From Nordisk Museologi 2000/1, SUMMARY pp. 65-78

 Anders Johansen

The museum in today's media context

In this article, the properties of a medium are seen as partly determined by the position it holds within a contemporary media formation. As an old medium in a new context, the museum is confronted with a challenge to adapt and develop comparable to those confronting the arts with the arrival of photography, or the theater when the cinema was born. While a sensible response to the challenge would be to concentrate on forms of communication that no other medium can provide, the author also points to new possibilities for enriching the language of objects with non-realist forms of expression: What was once avant garde is now readily understandable as part of the everyday culture of commercial television. In conclusion the article takes note of recent changes in the patterns of information flow that seem to influence communication even in old-fashioned contexts such as museums. Drawing upon the distributional view of culture developed by Joshua Meyrowitz, it traces the connections between Marshall McLuhan's notion of the Global Village and his idea of a Museum (or classroom) Without Walls.

Anders Johansen, sosialantropolog og medieforsker, er professor i medie- og kulturhistorie ved Universitetet i Bergen.
Adr.: Institutt for medievitenskap, Universitetet i Bergen, Fosswinckelsgate 6, N-5007 Bergen.
Fax: +47-55589149
e-mail: anders.johansen@media.uib.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2000/1, SUMMARY pp. 87-96

 Bjarne Sode Funch

Why Do We Look at Art?

The importance of psychology has usually been neglected within the area of art museums in spite of the fact that the visitor's experiencing of art constitutes the very basis of the art museum establishment.
This article seeks to demonstrate that psychology is fundamental to introducing people to art. On the basis of a phenomenological description of the aesthetic experience as a transcendent phenomenon it is suggested that an aesthetic experience gives rise to an emotion with a distinct form. Emotions are closely connected to the existential situation in which they arise, and as society changes new existential conditions elicit new emotional qualities. Works of art are important sources for providing new emotions with an appropriate form, and therefore, art museums become an important vehicle for psychological integrity not only within the individual but also within society in general.

Bjarne Sode Funch er cand. psych., dr. phil, ekstern lektor i personlighedspsykologi ved Institut for Psykologi, Københavns Universitet, samt seniorforsker med tilknytning til Esbjerg Kunstmuseum og Kunstmuseet Trapholt i Kolding.
Adr. Hollænderdybet 5, lejl. 412, DK-2300 København S
e-post: Funch@lehmann.psl.ku.dk

From Nordisk Museologi 2000/1, SUMMARY pp. 97-108

 Anne-Maija Malmisalo

The Vyborg Museum — How the War Affected the Museum and its Objects

The Vyborg Museum was founded in 1893 and opened to the public in 1895. Over 50 years later the museum found itself facing a new situation. On November 31, 1939 the Soviet Union started a war against Finland. The Vyborg Museum only mana­ged to evacuate one fifth of the museum objects to Rautalampi and Hämeenlinna before the war broke out. The museum board made a list of the most valuable objects to be sent away most urgently. The objects included were 1. old coins, 2. paintings and 3. ethnological costumes. The Winter War, as it was called, finished March 13, 1940. On the last day of the war a bomb hit the museum and the whole building was burnt down. As a result of the war Finland had to give up Vyborg, which was one of the main cities of the country, and some other areas to the Soviet Union.
After the war there was some discussion about where the evacuated museum objects should be placed. No decision had been taken when the war resumed in the summer of 1941. In August 1941 with Vyborg once again part of Finland plans were laid to rebuild the museum in the town. Because most of the original objects had been destroyed, those that had been evacuated acquired a whole new value. In addition, in the summer of 1942 there were some excavations in the ruins of the old museum building to find and recover any objects that might have survived. The museum had not yet been rebuilt when Finland lost Vyborg for the second and final time on June 20, 1944. When the war ended Vyborg remained part of the Soviet Union and discussions as to where to place the museum objects started again. Finally in 1950 a decision was made: the objects were to be placed in Lahti City Museum.
It is interesting to note how much the exceptional conditions affected the value of the objects.
Because so many of the objects were lost, those that were saved became more valuable than ever before. Now the objects tell us about the Vyborg that was lost, the museum that was once in the town, and also about the war. In addition to their considerable museum value, the objects also have enormous sentimental value, especially for the people who had to leave their home town, Vyborg.

Anne-Maija Malmisalo har magistergrad i pedagogik och studerar museologi och konsthistoria vid jyväskylä universitetet.
Adr: Minna Canthinkatu 14 A 11, SF-40100 Jyväskylä
email: annmalm@st.jyu.fi

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