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1993/2 Summaries


From Nordisk Museologi 1993/2: SUMMARY pp. 19-27

Gunnar Broberg:

A wondrous world

The idea of the natural history museum is traced back to the cabinet of curiosities and connected to the development of Linnean taxonomy. Two problems are singled out as decisive in the shape of the modern natural museum: taxonomic epistemology (how to find the right characters in arranging plants and animals) and the problem of continuity and multitude in nature. The result, obvious at least at the end of the 18th century, is a division of the natural history museum into two types: one the museum in the meaning of Comenius, i. e. for study and scholarship, the other the museum made public and educational in the manner of the cabinet of the curiosities. The argument of this brief essay is more fully developed and put in connection with the history of the encyclopedia in the essay by Broberg, "The broken circle".


Gunnar Broberg, professor i idé- och lärdomshistoria vid Lunds universitet, har forskat om Linné och om rashygienens historia; 1992 utgav han den idéhistoriska tvåbandsantologin Gyllene äpplen.

Adr: Institutionen för idéhistoria, Lunds universitet, Kungshuset, Lundagård, S-22350 Lund. Fax +46-46 104424


From Nordisk Museologi 1993/2: SUMMARY pp. 28-38

Holger Rasmussen:

Why did the Danish Folk Museum come into being?

Holger Rasmussen has (1979) written a standard biography on Bernhard Olsen (1836-1922), who founded the museum in 1879, opened it in 1885 and in 1901 established the open-air museum, Frilandsmuseet, at Lyngby as a part of the museum. In his paper he asks whether the museum was the product of an age or the creation of a specific personality - Bernhard Olsen.
The age saw the birth of many museums in Denmark, most of them collecting and exhibiting prehistoric objects and modelled on C J Thomsens museum in Copenhagen. But in Sweden Artur Hazelius and Georg Karlin had started another type of museum projects inspired by the folk-concept. The World Exhibitions favoured romantic representations of a picturesque folk-culture, in their turn inspired by the popular genre-painting and the nostalgic and sentimental novels of the day.
Bernhard Olsen had very wide interests, was trained as an artist and worked as costume designer for the theatre as well as entertainer and writer for the press. He became the director of the well-known Copenhagen Tivoli. In 1878 he had visited and studied the World Exhibition in Paris, where he had met Artur Hazelius. He returned home very impressed with what he had seen, more so with the manner in which the Dutch had presented their folk culture with room interiors, which the visitor could enter, than with the picture-like exhibitions of Hazelius. When given the responsibility in 1879 to arrange a section of an Exhibition on Arts, Crafts and Industry in Copenhagen, which should present folk costumes and traditional crafts, Olsen set out with the purpose to start the collecting for a new museum. He chose to arrange the material in three interiors with 70 mannekins in costumes - much in the Dutch fashion he had seen in Paris.
His exhibition was very successful and became the starting-point for his career as creator of both Dansk Folkemuseum and Frilandsmuseet. Thus, the paper concludes, the creation of the museum was dependent both of the spirit of an age for its creation and reception - and of the strong purpose in a gifted personality.


Holger Rasmussen er cand. mag i historie, dansk og tysk. Assistent ved Dansk Folkemuseum fra 1942, inspektør fra 1946 og overinspektør samme sted fra 1959. Dr. phil. på afhandling om Limfjordsfiskeriet 1968.

Adr.: Fuglsangsvej 30, DK-2830 Virum


From Nordisk Museologi 1993/2: SUMMARY pp. 99-108

Bo Lönnqvist:

The Borderline as a Museological Structure

Bo Lönnqvist discusses the cultural borderlines which are applied in museum classifications and presentations. Museums tend to establish and confirm a world order through the distinctions they make in ordering the collected objects and arranging them in specific buildings, rooms and show-cases. Thus the structuring can be regarded as a mirror of human intentions and thinking. The paper elucidates some of the cultural symmetries created by the museum.
First the dichotomy of nature/non-nature is discussed. The Kunstkammer did not distinguish be-tween wonders of nature and of human creativity, to the curious eye such a distinction is unimportant. In the 19th centrury the differentiation between museums of natural and cultural history is made. Western civilization becomes the subject of the museum of cultural history, 'primitive peoples' belong to the museum of natural history. Also gender as well as time regarded as aspects of culture become distinctions of importance.
Then the ethnographic boundaries of objects are looked at. Objects are defined as belonging to specific moments in time and places in space and subordinated the idea of evolution. Many other aspects are only partially understood or left aside - e g the toys and their cultural significance. The ethnogra-phic borderlines defined by the museum accept the lifeless objects in the cultural sphere and give them a significance according to theme, geography, chronology and aesthetics. The museum becomes, as Le Goff has put it, 'a producer of history'.
The third part of the paper treats the class and ethnic boundaries of objects. Costumes and school culture are focussed on. The distinctions based on social classification and economy are often hidden. However the distinction between upper class and folk culture is normally paid attention to - especially in the presentation of costumes. The dichotomy folk costume/fashion should be stressed as class indicator, but the aspect was lost when folk costumes were used as the symbol of an imaginary folk lifestyle to satisfy middleclass taste. The possibility to use food, eating habits and the laying of tables for meals in different settings is pointed at as they express patterns of power, ethnic identity and meanings concerning the human body and society. They are cultural barriers operating without verbal codes. The same potential can be found in the study of the class-room society. Bo Lönnqvist is advocating the use of anthropological field-work me-thods, which offers unique opportunities to study how a culture is created, formed and changed. A dynamic approach which would immensely enrich and vitalize the interpretation of cultural processes which all the time include the transgressing of cultural borderlines. In many exhibitions those are perceived and presented as eternal instead of temporary.
He concludes that the European museum as a mirror of Western thinking is linked to ideas of linear time, of space and of language. Hence concepts like continuity and change, historical perspective, control of space, have become decisive for our idea of the museum.


Bo Lönnqvist har en lång bana bakom sig som universitetslärare och forskare i etnologi. Nyligen har han utgivit 'Ting, rum och barn. Historisk-antropologiska studier i kulturella gränser och gränsöverskridande' (1992). Han leder nu projektet 'Svenskheten i Finland' vid Finlands Akademi.

Adr: Föreningen Brage, Kaserngatan 28, SF-00130 Helsingfors. FAX +358 0 636513


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