From Nordisk Museologi 2002/1, SUMMARY pp. 3-26
The museum exhibition, a medium in a state of change.
The aim of the article is to present an overview of the museum exhibition as a medium in the 20th century with the emphasis on its form. Three museological models for the exhibition's visual communication have emerged, viz. a reflexive model centering on the neutral presentation of objects and pictures; a transitive model centering on the transfer of knowledge represented in the object; an inclusive model focusing on the reception of the visitors. Over time all the models have changed, influenced by new technology often introduced at world fairs and by the entertainment industry which have both used the electronic media revolution to offer the audience a parallel virtual dreamworld; by the questioning of established truths in science, history and art effected by the paradigmatic shift from positivism to a hermeneutic and relativistic approach that has shaken the very foundation of official cultural institutions; and by the exhibitions of avantgarde and installation art. The author pays special attention to the transforming power of the art exhibitions. He discerns a connecting line from the 1902 Beethoven exhibition in Vienna to the Futurist exhibitions in the 1910s, the Dada and Surrealist exhibitions of the 1920s and '30s revolting aggressively against the conventions set by bourgeoisie institutions. The ideas were expressed in radically new exhibitions created by key personalities such as Pavel Janak and Marcel Duchamp. It is shown how they influenced contemporary museums, not only museums of art but also museums of history, ethnology and science, especially those which embraced the transitive and inclusive models of communication. Such people as Georges Henri Riviere in France, Alexander Dorner in Germany, and - later - Franco Russoli in Italy were important intermediaries. After WW2 popart and installation artists continued the exploration of the exhibition as a medium. The pioneering significance of Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein is specifically pointed out. Thus the history of the temporary art exhibitions should be seen as representing consecutive steps in the liberation of the museum exhibition from being merely the precipitate disperser of rapidly outdated truths to becoming the stage for subjective reports on the state of the world and the continuous re-interpretation of our memories of the past. Once the view of the museum exhibition as an art form in its own right has become accepted so has the role of the curator as an artist. However, the author argues, it is once again necessary, in fact a museological duty, to refocus on the reflexive model as it emphasizes the essential mission of the museum as custodian of authentic objects and their aura and as the transmitter of a carefully researched historical memory without concealing its complexity, as an antidote to the simplifications of the entertainment industry. A museum visitor must be offered the instruments that will allow him/ her to construct a better understanding of the world outside the walls of the museum. He argues forcefully against the alliance between museums and commercial entertainers: the museum must recapture its central role as a common ground for our encounter with past human experiences, i.e. that which is the foundation for our sense of historical belonging and understanding.
Lennart Palmqvist är klassisk arkeolog och leder den akademiska undervisningen i museivetenskap och kulturarvskunskap samt ar kursföreståndare for curator- och projektledarutbildningar vid Stockholms universitet.
Adr. Historiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, 10691 Stockholm
From Nordisk Museologi 2002/1, SUMMARY pp. 27-30
Simon Glinvad Nielsen
This paper offers an introduction to the planning of a new museum in New York City: The Eyebeam Gallery. The museum will evolve around the making of digital art. The ambition of the new museum will be to bring together artists and museum visitors, thus creating a polyphony of voices articulating art forms that are completely new to the world.
The architects involved in the project are Diller + Scofidio. So far they have mainly been concerned with the production of experimental works both in Europe and the US.
One important point in the building of the Eye-beam Gallery is that the development of new art forms requires the invention of a new form of museum building. With this in mind Diller + Scofidio will design a building which focuses on relationships between new media art and the spaces that will enable and support these relationships.
In the building housing the Eyebeam Gallery we can expect a museum with a strong emphasis on the physical experience of digital artwork. Futhermore, we can expect a "site-specific" (Diller + Scofidio) museum. A building which can be seen as an organic enlargement of the surrounding city and as a mental enlargement of the New York community.
Simon Glinvad Nielsen er studerende pa IT-Højskolen, København.
Adr. Tjørnegade 2, 3.tv.
From Nordisk Museologi 2002/1, SUMMARY pp. 31-48
See, talk, listen - the art of experience
This article presents the manner in which two informants experience an exhibition of the works of a well known Danish painter, Ole Sporring. One of the informants, Jakob (27), wears a small video camera on his head which records his walk through the exhibition, looking at the paintings and talking with his companion, Gunnar (55). Ingemann states that he has used this method in video-walks previously in the context of a cultural history museum (Ingemann 1999).
A painting can be seen as an object taken from one functional context - the painter's studio - and contextualised in an exhibition with others of his paintings, drawings, photographs and objects (Braxendale 1991).
Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson have found four factors that are important when one encounters an artwork: the perceptual, the emotional, the intellectual and the communication dimensions. In their project 57 informants educated in the field of fine arts themselves chose the artworks they related to as prototypical examples.
In my project I focused on informants who had no formal art history training and I myself selected the exhibition they would visit. My theoretical starting point differs from that of Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson in that they focus on the art whereas I focus on the informants and their experience (Dewey 1934).
The article scrutinises in detail how the visit to the exhibition is structured and how the informants relate to the paintings and to each other. The video recording is analysed from three perspectives: • Relations • Experience • Reading strategies.
The Ole Sporring exhibition is entitled "The three men meet van Gogh". 'The three men' is a famous cartoon from the 1940s and van Gogh... The intertextual play constructs a universe of craziness, humour and playfulness. The paintings are huge and contain a lot of details and potential stories.
The two informants construct four types of relations:
Internal relations which combine elements in each painting and recognise elements reused in other paintings.
External relations by linking to elements outside the exhibition room. One of the informants related monsters and snakes to Nordic mythology; and the missing ear of van Gogh to the boxer Mike Tyson, who bit the ear off another boxer. "Really despicable!"
Recognition relations by simply recognizing the famous works of van Gogh. These served as a test on their knowledge of art history. But they recognise a number of elements founded in their common knowledge and experience of the world: mobile phones, elephants, ducks, bicycle, sheep...
Aesthetic relations by moving out of the stories told and looking at the composition, the pictorial language, using expressions such as fine/rough, blurred/sharp and smooth/texture.
The four relations can be seen as an expression of their experience. But their experience is more complex than the relations themselves. We can categorize the experience into four fields: action, emotion, values and knowledge (Gjedde & Ingemann 1999, 2001).
The action field' is actualised in the exhibition by the movement of the informants' bodies. They move slowly and determinedly and use their body to vary their distance to the art work and point and explain by using gestures. They often look at each other for confirmation or contradiction.
The emotional field is activated by their curiosity and openness and they enter a dialogue with the painter's universe of violent expressions, humour and the creative way in which he turns things around.
The value field is brought into play by the slight effect the painter's obvious and disrespectful repainting of van Gogh's original has and by his disregard for the value of art as beautiful. But they are very accepting.
The knowledge field gives them new knowledge and known knowledge is actualised. They actualise their knowledge of the over-familiar van Gogh paintings through the painter's repainting and displacement and recontextualising. They gain new knowledge about the painter and his way of looking at the world.
The informants' possibilities to create relations and experience are based in their choice of reading strategies (Ingemann 1996 & 1998).
A very superficial visitor can walk through the exhibition in 10 minutes employing the reading strategy known as the locked gaze. But Jakob and Gunnar are very motivated and use the opening gaze to investigate the picture and search for details and knowledge they can use to construct a coherent meaning. They also involve the pragmatic gaze in relating what they see and what that contains to their personal world. And they use the reflecting gaze to position and separate themselves from the work and from the artist in order to simultaneously involve themselves with him and his world and to stay outside him and maintain a distance.
The analysis shows how two visitors construct their personal and individual experience of a concrete exhibition. But at the same time the analysis of the informants' experience reveals that there is apparently so much that is of a common human and maybe even universal character that the personal cannot ruin the shared experience. When we are actors in the culture the artwork in its context can be experienced very directly and clearly.
This concrete exhibition has the ability to invite the visitor to form relations, to use more experience fields and to use more reading strategies. In relation to the construction of an exhibition this way of thinking may provide a more complex and fruitful concept for seeing, talking and listening in the art of experiencing art!
Bruno Ingemann, ph.d., er lektor i visuel kommunikation ved Roskilde Universitetscenter, Institut for Kommunikation.
Adr: Roskilde Universitetscenter, PO.Box. 260, DK-4000 Roskilde, Danmark.
From Nordisk Museologi 20022/1, SUMMARY pp. 49-54
Vibekke Vange og Ellen Marie Beck
"The Museum Exhibition in the 21st Century"
The main topic of this inter-Nordic course was the production methods of film, and discussion as to whether these methods can be transferred to the production of museum exhibitions. The course also included visits to three recent exhibitions in Denmark: "Verdens spejl" (Mirror of the World) at the Ethnographic Museum, "Danish Porcelain" at the Museum of Arts and Crafts and "100 Chinese" by Juan Munoz at Louisiana. The first mentioned exhibition had caused quite a lot of debate in Denmark, as many people thought the design distracted attention from the content. The subject itself was also controversial: items from all over the world, collected by Danish scientists and other travellers, were exhibited without this activity being in any way questioned.
Presentations of some new museums and exhibitions were also a part of the course. The presentations emphasized the processes of making the exhibitions and how the work had been organised. The projects presented were: The Museum of Reconstruction in Hammerfest, Norway, Trondenes Historical Centre in Harstad, Norway, Siida Sami Museum in Inari, Finland, the new exhibitions at The Norwegian Forestry Museum in Elverum, Norway, Naturalis in Leiden, the Netherlands, and the new exhibitions at Galerie d'Evolution, a part of the Museum of Natural History in Paris.
The lecturers, Leena Arkio-Laine from Helsinki, Finland, and Mats Brunander from Stockholm, Sweden, introduced us to the ideas of using personal experiences and feelings in the museum exhibition. Our personalities influence our choices when it comes to collecting things and exhibiting them. Therefore a museum exhibition can not be objective. If we are conscious of this, and use our feelings when we try to tell a story, we might succeed in giving the visitors a more profound experience of the narrative.
Olav Aaraas from the Sandvig Collection at Maihaugen, Norway gave us an interesting insight into his work with exhibition texts. He showed how he had started off with long, traditional and rather academic texts, and then transformed them into shorter, more poetic texts with improved readability.
The main topic of the course, the production methods of film and their use in museum exhibition work, also proved to be the most interesting and challenging. The lecturers, Arne Bro and Jonas Wagner, from the •National Film School in Copenhagen, demonstrated by examples from several films how scenic tools could be applied to create an atmosphere or a story. Both lecturers emphasized that we as museum workers must dare to use ourselves, our personal feelings and experiences, when telling a story. They challenged us to talk to the visitors' feelings, not only to their brains, and to be less afraid of doing things wrong.
Vibekke Vange har van ansatt som museumsstipendiat ved Tromsø Museum og jobber med en doktorgrad i botanikk. Museums- og utstillingsarbeid inngår i oppleringsdelen av doktorgraden.
Adr. Tromsø Museum — Universitetsmuseet, Universitetet i Tromsø, N-9037 TROMSØ
Ellen Marie Beck har i en årrekke arbeidet med utstillingsdesign og -produksjon ved Tromsø Museum, sist som produsent for utstillingen "SAPMI — en nasjon blir til", som sto ferdig 1. oktober 2000.
Adr. Tromsø Museum - Universitetsmuseet, Universitetet i Tromsø, N-9037 TROMS0
From Nordisk Museologi 2002/1, SUMMARY pp. 55-78
John Aage Gjestrum
John Aage Gjestrum and the Ivar Aasen Centre - the whole and the details
The last project John Aage Gjestrum was able to conclude in Norway was 'Ivar Aasen-Tunet', The IvarAasen Centre for Norwegian Language and Literature, which was established on the site where Ivar Aasen was born. The institution is specifically dedicated to the documentation, development and promotion of 'Nynorsk', New Norwegian, which was the result of the lifelong work of the linguist Ivar Aasen (1813-1896). He devoted himself to the study, collection and publication of Norwegian dialects with a view to liberating the Norwegian language from the strong Danish influence apparent in the official 'bokmål', Dano-Norwegian. Ivar Aasen thus became a key figure in the movement which, since 1885, succeeded in getting the two Norwegian idioms officially accepted.
As early as 1893 Ivar Aasen's birthplace, Asen, had become a place of pilgrimage and national gatherings. In 1896 after his death in Oslo, his personal belongings were taken back to Asen to form the nucleus of a small museum. In 1992 a committee was considering a proposal for a centre at Asen to celebrate the memory of the famous linguist and to contribute to the advancement of New Norwegian. John Aage Gjestrum was consulted in 1993 and soon saw the task of creating an exhibition visualizing the abstract concept of language as an inspiring challenge. For seven years he worked as a museological expert on the committee and as a consultant to Sverre Fehn, the architect entrusted with the project. From 1999 John Aage was also the curator for the exhibition.
John Aage never summarized his contribution to the project in writing, but has left behind a series of reports and memos related to various phases of the planning and building process, which reflect his thinking. Ottar Grepstad, Director of the Ivar Aasen Centre, has put together excerpts from documents dated 1995,1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000 that offer glimpses of the work in progress.
The 1995 memo deals with the possible structure of a national centre for New Norwegian with the aim of linking the popular and patriotic aspects of the linguistic issue with its basis in academic research. The important reciprocity between the two is effectively achieved by establishing the duality of a research institute closely linked to a museum, the latter located in Åsen, with its already existing tradition as a national shrine. The idea was accepted by the Norwegian Parliament, 'Stortinget', in 1994/5, to be financed as a national institution. The memo suggests that a three dimensional presentation of the spoken and written language as an abstract phenomenon had never before been treated in a museum in spite of its central role in democracy and the freedom of expression. The issue of the two — complementary as well as antagonistic — varieties of Norwegian forms an ideal point of departure for elucidating local, national and international disputes. The memo also emphasizes that the sense of the place Asen, both its national and cultural qualities, must be properly considered and protected. The memo concludes that the increasing importance of digital techniques for the accessibility of information must be exploited by the centre.
The 1996 memo focuses on the documentation centre which must form the heart of the museum. It lists the various types of material which are covered by existing collections and must be made accessible to the public at the centre. But in its strategic considerations the necessity is stressed of creating a digital network for the exchange of materials with research institutes throughout Norway which own, research and develop collections of importance on the history and use of New Norwegian. The printing of books is also an essential theme as the printing works at Volda near Asen was the first to be established outside the cities and its role in relation to Aasen's ideas about the universal diffusion of literacy is evident. A state report from 1996 gives the Ivar Aasen Centre national responsibility; together with the museums devoted to Ibsen and Bjørnson it is required to present a specific museological perspective on the history of language and literature. A diagram shows how the documentation centre should function in this national setting. Finally the aspects of authenticity and knowledge, the variety of users and the relevance of the future activities of the centre are discussed.
In 1997 an overview is presented of the various buildings already existing on the site, their history and and the efforts the descendents of Ivar Aasen have made over the years to keep the collections accessible to visitors and to procure support from local authorities and the state. Preliminary ideas about the potential future use of both the buildings and the site are presented. The significance of the natural setting and the landscape formed by agriculture and inhabited and used by the Aasen family through the ages — form an essential part of the tale to be told at the centre.
In 1999 the buildings are discussed in depth and their role in the activities of the centre is set out in detail.
In the 2000 memo directives are given for the the museographic work The biographical line representing the life of Ivar Aasen against the background of national and international history will be of central importance. The form and graphics of captions and panels are indicated. The use of quotations is discussed at length.
The notes cease abruptly. As Ottar Grepstad summarizes: John Aage contained in himself a feeling of unrest which did not cease until he had found the optimal solution to his preccupation. For that reason not everything suggested in the notes was finally carried out. They end as abruptly as did his life.
Ottar Grepstad som svarat för sammanställningen av ovanstående texter är direktör för Nynorsk kultursentrum.
Adr. Nynorsk kultursentrum, Indrehovdevegen 176, N-6160 Hovdebygda
From Nordisk Museologi 2002/1, SUMMARY pp. 79-88
Collective Memories: Who Needs What?
Official efforts to preserve our cultural heritage have increased and diversified considerably during the past decades, including such activities as organizing regional and national preservation authorities. In the course of this process, civil inquiries and governmental plans have naturally generated questions and debates. However, along the way, the search for the decisive values for cultural heritage has got lost.
What purpose does government preservation of cultural heritage serve? When we speak of threats to the coordination of society's heritage, what exactly do we mean? What dictates the official agenda of values for cultural preservation? And why is it a matter of national consideration and legislation?
The answers to these daunting questions cannot encompass primarily physical artefacts at risk of being lost. Heritage preservation must be related to human values. What is at stake here are the values related to social and existential perspectives. Accordingly, the answers cannot be related to objective, unquestioned facts; instead, questions about conducting the preservation of society's heritage must be related to our conception of time and change.
The Western perception of time and society has moved from the static world of the Middle Ages to the modern, dynamic sense of flow and relativity. The inner meaning of change is normalized according to the modern condition, and antiquarian preservation has habitually confirmed this, through modernity's inherent ontological separation of "past" and "present". Because of modernity's fixation on a linear, step-by-step development and a quality-induced separation with the past, paradoxes concerning the present have emerged.
On the one hand, our conception of the possibilities of the present may become trapped by the means antiquarians invoke to inform us about the past. On the other, the fact that the antiquarian past relates to everything except the absolutely most recent period of time prevents us from formulating visions of the future. Why should we take visions of the future seriously when we can be almost certain that it will be ready to be displayed in museums in ten years' time? In relation to the relativity and openness of the postmodern experience, the values and visions of official heritage preservation efforts must begin to turn towards more articulated, holistic concepts about the past and the present. Antiquarian values are formulated and flourish only within the discourse of heritage preservation itself. But the discourse can and will change.
Richard Pettersson är fil. doktor och forskningsassistent vid Institutionen for historiska studier, Umeå universitet.
Adr: Institutionen for historiska studier, Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå