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2004/1 Summaries

From Nordisk Museologi 2004/1, SUMMARY pp. 3-10

Kerstin Smeds

Danse macabre on the museum scene - notes on the decline and fall of the museum idea

The museum idea in Europe is closely linked to the concept of the nation state. Now that this concept is losing its dominant role, the role of the museum and its public funding is also being questioned. The crisis in societal credibility is foreshadowed by the real or imminent bankruptcy of museums (specific Danish and Swedish instances are quoted in the text). The battle to regain public confidence and approval is well under way. The scene is set for the danse macabre.
Different methods are being chosen. Many museums cling to their traditional functions of preservation and education - and their pedagogical work is most easily accepted, encouraged and subsidized when the space for history teaching in compulsory school is continuously shrinking. Others concentrate on acquiring sponsoring from trade and industry and of course seek support from various foundations.
A regrouping of Swedish national collections was suggested as early as 1920 by Gregor Paulsson to better adapt the museum institution to the needs of contemporary society - into a quality museum (for the general public), a study museum (for researchers) and a museum of the present (to serve the need of future orientation). This was a proposal that pointed the way forward and is still relevant.
The crisis in the museums is principally political and financial resulting in an institutional lack of resoluteness and uncertainty about purpose and societal legitimacy. To survive it will be necessary to acknowledge the end of the national saga and the reality of cybernations and the Dream World, Museums could find their raison d'etre serving as dynamic houses of culture, as Kenneth Hudson suggested in the 1980s. The institutions should accept the museum as medium and think of themselves as process-oriented entities whose job it is to support and inspire their communities and visitors/users. They should obviously adapt to the virtual reality produced in a dynamic digital process where the content is similar to an open oral tradition. The museum should be the cultural storyteller and commentator in its community and traditional museum education should be given up in favour of these new roles. According to Kenneth Hudson the museum should become a club, or perhaps - as Bernard Deloche suggests - a café philosophique. Another possible way forward is such cooperation as that promoted in the ABM project where archive, library and museum are amalgamated into a historical workshop.
For the e-topia imagined by William Mitchell the paper concludes with conceiving a museum of the future consisting of a physical building supplemented and expanded to a virtual museum.

Kerstin Smeds, professor i museologi, Umeå universitet.
Artikeln är hennes installationsföreläsning 8/11 2003.
Adr: Institutionen for kultur och medier, Umeå universitet, S-901 87 Umeå
E-post: kerstin.smeds@kultmed.umu.se

From Nordisk Museologi 2004, SUMMARY pp. 11-28

Gjertrud Sæter

Museums between preservation and consumption Today, museums are faced with challenges of vital importance in defining their goals and values. Throughout time, museums have been expressions of their contemporary society.
The central theme of this article is changes in museums through the ages and today's challenges. The perspective of the article is general, including museums for culture, nature, science and art.
Early museums were exclusive institutions, tailored to a limited and often private audience. In the 18th and 19th centuries, museums have to a large extent became part of the modern project of enlightenment and the development of the nation state.
In our post-modern age, museums to a large degree have become part of an entertainment and heritage industry; an industry defined by the demands of market economy.
The article concludes that the conflict contemporary museums experience between the modern tradition of enlightenment and the post-modern trend towards entertainment might be solved by developing museums based on "constructed knowledge".
The new challenge for a museum today will be to include "the knower" as "an intimate part of the known". This, along with the institution's ability to engage an audience and stimulate personal engagement, will be a demanding task for any museum.

Gjertrud Sæter er sosiolog og museolog.
Hun er leder for Publikumsavdelingen ved Norsk Folkemuseum.
Adr. Norsk Folkemuseum, Museumsveien 10, N-0287 Oslo
e-post: Gjertrud.Seter@norskfolkemuseum.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2004/1, SUMMARY pp. 43-58

Bente Gundestrup

The Eckhout-paintings and the Royal Danish Cabinet of Curiosities 

In the year 1654 the Dutch prince, John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen (1604-79), presented a gift consisting of 26 paintings to the Danish king, Frederik III (born 1609, reigned 1648-70). John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen had been governor of the then Dutch colony of Brazil from 1636-44. The Dutch artist Albert Eckhout (o. 1610-1666), one of the many artists and scholars in John Maurice's entourage, painted the canvases in Brazil in the 1640s.
The paintings were probably placed in the Danish Royal Kunstkammer, which was founded by the King around 1650, in 1656. The Kunstkammer was initially established in the old Castle of Copenhagen. In one of the nine rooms, walls and ceiling were decorated with the Brazilian paintings. Eight large and three smaller paintings depicting different types of people from Brazil and Africa and twelve smaller ones of exotic fruits and plants were hung on the walls. A large painting of dancing Indians hung from the ceiling.
Later a special building for the royal collections was erected next to the King's residence. The Eckhout paintings with the rest of the kunstkammer collection were transferred to the new premises and were exhibited in
The Indian Chamber and in The Gallery. Two of the paintings were lost before 1794.
The Royal Kunstkammer existed officially until 1825, when the bulk of the objects were dispersed to newly established specialist museums. The surviving paintings were also dispersed, the greater part first exhibited in the Portrait Gallery at Frederiksborg Castle, were transferred in 1848 to the Royal Ethnographical Museum, now the National Museum of Denmark. Three of the paintings went to the Royal Picture Gallery, now the Museum of Fine Arts.

Bente Gundestrup, cand. mag. (historie og religionshistorie) Projektforsker tilknyttet Nationalmuseet Forsknings- og Formidlingsafdelingen, Etnografisk Samling
Frederiksholms Kanal 12 DK- 1220 København K
E-mail: bente.gundestrup@natmus.dk
Hjemmeside: www.kunstkammer.dk

From Nordisk Museologi 2004/1, SUMMARY pp. 59-84

Marc Maure

Peasants, ghosts, mannequins and actors in the early "folk-museums"

The paper presents a discussion of the exhibition activities of the three great pioneers of the Scandinavian folk museums. Artur Hazelius (1833-1871) founded the Scandinavian Ethnographical Collections (later known as the Nordiska Museet) in Stockholm in 1873 and the open-air museum Skansen in 1891. Bernhard
Olsen (1836-1922) founded the Danish Folk Museum and the Scandinavian Panopticon in Copenhagen in 1885,
and the open-air museum at Sorgenfri in 1901. Anders Sandvig (1862-1950) built up a collection starting in 1887
that would become the foundation for the open-air museum at Maihaugen in Lillehammer in 1904.
They were all talented exhibitors, using elements from the peasant culture of yesteryear to create an illusion of reality that would arouse the viewers' sympathy, interest and understanding. They utilized various strategies in order to give life to the peasant, either by using a physical form in a room, or a picture that existed only in the eye of the viewer. They presented the peasants in the form of ultra-real figures in tableaux arranged according to accepted rules of naturalistic theatre. They reconstructed settings where the viewer could feel the unseen presence of her forefathers, could re-live the past and even "become" a peasant herself. They used actors who played actual, living peasants with the help of authentic costumes, artefacts and surroundings.

Marc Maure
Freelance konsulent innen museumsutvikling, utstillings-produksjon og undervisning i museologi. Styremedlem i ICOFOM (ICOM's International Committee for Museology).
Nåværende arbeid for samiske museer i NordNorge, samtprosjekter i Sibir og Ecuador
Adr. Skarvaveien 95, N-1350 Lommedalen, Norge.
Tel. +47675607471+4792 61 5709
E-mail: museo@online.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2004/1, SUMMARY pp. 117-124

Eva Persson

The cannabalistic museum

Jacques Hainard, director of Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchatel (MEN), Switzerland, is renowned and some­what controversial for his temporary exhibitions shown annually since 1989. The exhibitions with their daring and provocative approach to current political and cul­tural fashions have served as an important source of inspiration for colleagues throughout Europe, who sha­re the same eagerness to question and debate traditio­nal ideas governing museum collecting and outreach. Eva Persson, herself a distinguished master of exhibitions for, inter alia, Riksutstallningar and Arbetets Mu­seum, Norrkoping, now teaching at Linköpings Uni­versity, has followed the development of Hainard's work over the years. Here she gives her impressions of the 2003 exhibition at Neuchatel, Le musée cannibale, where the presentation of foreign cultures in ethno­graphic museums is staged as a cannibalistic ritual.

Eva Persson
Utställningsproducent, lektor i kultur- och mediegestaltning, Linköpings universitet/Campus Norrköping, e-post: for@bahnhof.se

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