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2005/2 Summaries


From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 28-44

Perry Johansson

Orvar Karlbeck på Skattjakt

In 1926, after the Swedish Crown Prince had visited Peking and the Forbidden Palace, he undertook a long and dangerous trip to the south of China. His motive was to see the Swedish railway engineer Orvar Karlbeck and to purchase his collection of 2,000-year-old bronzes. Accompanying the Crown Prince was the director of the Stockholm Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Johan Gunnar Andersson. He was impressed by Karlbeck's skills in determining the age and authenticity of Chinese antiquities and had plans to use him for the museum. Contrary to the way he is usually portrayed, Andersson seemed eager to expand the Stockholm collection of Chinese archaeology. However, his association with Sven Hedin Andersson damaged his good name in China, and he could do no more digging or collecting himself. He therefore turned to Karlbeck to secretly bring out antiquities from China. Backed by various Swedish syndicates, Karlbeck was sent to China repeatedly from 1928 to 1935. Describing his endeavours as a "treasure hunt", Karlbeck proudly describes illegally digging into graves, using false documents to enter restricted sites, and smuggling antiquities. After a period of indulging in this secretive, illicit work for the museum, Karlbeck changed switched career. He became a China researcher, with his own antiquities shop in Stockholm. Until this day, he has been called an "archaeologist" by Swedish museum people, who have the same respectful attitude that they have to Johan Gunnar Andersson, promoted as an ethical role model for intercultural archaeology and museum work. The facts presented in this article should lead to a revision of that one-sided narrative of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities and its founders.


Perry Johansson doktorerade i sinologi med en avhandling om Kinas konsumtionskultur. Han har även skrivit om kinesisk historia, litteratur och film. Efter ett år som gästforskare vid Columbia University lägger han nu sista handen vid en bok om svensk kinaforskning och kinasamlande under 1900-talet.

Kontakta gärna författaren via e-post: johanssonperry@yahoo.com,


From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 43-60

Helle Jørgensen

Indfødte folk og humant materiale på museum

Within the latest decades, collection and display of indigenous human remains in ethnographic museums has gone from theoretical and political obscurity to an issue of increasing significance in a critical global debate of museum ethics and the cultural rights of indigenous peoples. As the world has seen a steadily growing cultural and political awareness amongst indigenous peoples such as the New Zealand Maori, indigenous activists worldwide have repeatedly stated claims for cultural rights. These include the repatriation of collected human remains that have left their countries of origin in colonial times.
The claims and critique from indigenous peoples have gradually been taken up for consideration in institutional and professional ethics in the museum world. As the debate has evolved and countless conventions, declarations, policies and guidelines have ensued, repatriation has become a phenomenon that contemporary museum institutions across the world must relate to — not only in principle, but also in practice. Repatriation and its prospective consequences for the institutions that receive claims on their collections has thus become a much-discussed issue, and human remains in particular have become a focal and highly sensitive element in this debate. Taking up the case of Maori human remains, this article elucidates the significance of the recent developments concerning repatriation, as perceived from the vantage point of both museum institutions and indigenous claimants. Setting out from an analysis of the concerns surrounding a Maori repatriation case from the National Museum of Denmark, this article proceeds to take up for discussion the role that the repatriation of human remains plays in a national context in the museum practice within New Zealand.
Exploring both the historical context of collection and the contemporary museological and indigenous concerns pertinent to the collected human remains, it is argued that the indigenous repatriation claims, as well as the institutional management of the remains, may be theoretically grasped by the concept of "inalienable possessions", developed by the anthropologist Annette Weiner. This concept focuses on the way in which the keeping of certain significant possessions that are rendered inalienable contributes to validating the owners' identities and standing. With the concept of inalienability, it is possible to understand the density of significances that are tied up with the collected human remains, as they become focal elements in a continual debate of historical and cultural identities and narratives, including the changing relationships between Maori as indigenous people and museums as cultural institutions.


Helle Jørgensen er antropolog, uddannet ved Københavns Universitet.
E-mail: hellej@tiscali.dk


From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 61-75

Kjell Hansen

Kulturarvspolitik och museiutstälningar

Using the author's personal experience of an unsuccessful exhibition as a starting point, this paper discusses the way museums act as mediators of knowledge. While museum officials have accepted post-modern influences of de-constructivist perspectives, museum visitors tend to regard exhibitions as realistic traces of the past, and exhibitions that question ideas of the past we take for granted are thus often unable to communicate effectively with visitors. A number of researchers have claimed that museums not only present, but also create, cultural heritages because they possess the right to interpret what objects and other phenomena should be part of an exhibition. Museums thus mould particular images of the past. This de-constructivist knowledge seems to have established uncertainty among curators, who have left the idea of one common (national) heritage, and instead have started arguing for a number of different heritages connected to different groups in society. This may all be very well, but at the same time many museums have problems in communicating with visitors.
In order to analyse this, it may be worthwhile to see exhibitions as occurrences — i.e. as actions taking place when visitors meet the concrete exhibition as it stands. Using the Swedish Army Museum as an empirical reference, it is argued that the meanings of cultural heritages are not fixed, and that a heritage is not something that has been lost and found again. Heritage is dependent on being presented, and thus creates something new in the present while at the same time referring to the past.
But since museum officials tend to define themselves as gatekeepers of correct details, rather than as narrators of comprehensive stories, there tends to evolve a gap between what the exhibition is saying, and the lived experiences of the visitors. If we see the real world as something that is not given once and for all, we can also see how museums partake of the social and cultural construction of reality. Exhibitions contribute to producing ideas about how the world is constituted. But among many of those who presently work in museums, there is a sense of discomfort attached to the role as teller of staged stories, of stories that go beyond the simple factuality of the specific and concrete. Instead, they would like to see themselves as suppliers of a material which the visitors may use as they please. Museum exhibitions thus, on the one hand articulate approved narratives, and on the other produce an excess of meaning. They appear as collections of staged and directed signs that have become all the more desirable as the past has become more popular, as reservoirs of props and meanings rather than as institutions of truth.
It is obvious to anyone that exhibitions are statements about reality rather than a piece of reality itself. But it is a statement that appears within quotation marks and thus is - or could be - an arena for reflection, when it is able to reach the visitor's experiences across the gap of time.


Kjell Hansen,  FD, etnolog och museolog. Arbetar f. n. som forskare vid Etnologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet, men har bred erfarenhet från svenska museer, samt som lektor i museologi.
E-mail: kjell.hansen@etn.lu.se


From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 76-88

Palmyre Pierroux

Dispensing with formalities in art education research

This article investigates how high school students master and appropriate concepts in aesthetics and modern art in art history classes and in art museums. It is argued that distinctions between schools and museums as places of formal and informal learning, respectively, are not useful analytical categories for understanding complex meaning making processes.


Palmyre Pierroux, Research Fellow. InterMedia, University of Oslo.
E-mail: palmyre@intermedia.uio.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 89-102

Gitte Lønstrup

Nok se - men også røre

Hands On is a well-known strategy of communication used at the museums of natural history in general. For various reasons, it is rarely used at museums of archaeology, where a certain Hands Off convention is present. However, at the British Museum, the Hands On concept has found its way to the permanent archaeological exhibitions with a successful result. As a communication strategy Hands On is different from the usual communication in text and speech, since physical contact with the objects gives the viewer a special experience. This experience of closeness to the object does not necessarily result in reflection. How tactility can be unified with reflection — Hands On with Minds On — and used as an efficient communication strategy at archaeological museums is a central question raised in this article. The empirical point of departure is the Hands On in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. Focus is put on the experience of the viewer affected by this norm-breaking concept. Using Hans-Georg Gadamer's integrated experience concept and the pedagogic approach in John Falk and Lynn Dierking's "interactive experience model", the relationship between the reflexive and the emotional aspects of the viewer's experience is examined. 


Gitte Lønstrup (1976-) er scholarstipendiat (2004-2005) ved Center for Museologi, Aarhus Universitet, hvor hun beskæftiger sig med restaureringsteori og udstil-lingsanalyse. Afdeling for Kunsthistorie, Aarhus Universitet, Langelandsgade 139, Bygning 580, 8000 Århus C. 
Email: Gitte@Lonstrup.com


From Nordisk Museologi 2005/2, SUMMARY pp. 103-113

Marie Riegels Melchior

Lately, fashion has become fashionable at both the art and the cultural historical museums. Why is that? What is the role of fashion at the museum? What is to be expected in the future? This article is a survey of the phenomenon, arguing that the reason for the current museological interest in fashion is due to the growing individualism of society and hereby the stronger focus on the construction of one's own identity through the use of fashion.
In the museum setting, fashion is presented in different ways. This article identifies four different kinds of fashion exhibitions: the aesthetic, the biographic, the material cultural and the design cultural. The design cultural is seen as the most experimental and ex-plorational to date, as it challenges the existing traditions of exhibiting fashion and uses instead the spectacle of fashion itself in its investigation of fashion both as a design object and as a consumer item. In the article, the recent exhibition Spectres: When Fashion Turns Back is highlighted because its avant-garde exhibition approach demonstrates the new developments in the field (The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 24 February-8 May 2005, fashion curator Judith Clark).


Marie Riegels Melchior, cand. mag. i etnologi, ph.d.-sti-pendiat v. Danmarks Designskole og Kunstindustrimuseet medph.d.-projektet: Dansk mode — en materialkul-turel analyse af dansk modes identitet og designmetoder i perioden 1950 og til i dag. 12001-2002 Polaire Weis-man Fund Fellow, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 
E-mail: mme@dkds.dk


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