From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 3-12
Museums and the 'knowledge society'
Everyone is aware that the amount of knowledge is increasing rapidly and it seems endlessly. Modern information technology, IT, provides the capacity for handling this knowledge and the means for world communication. More and more people are working with knowledge and information and so on.
The question that I raise is whether this development also gives us reason to talk about a major transition from an industrial to an information or knowledge society.
An additional, and more palpable time for positing a transition could be that the industrial society of the late 20th century is facing serious troubles - unemployment, social instability, violence and more and more collisions with the limits of the global ecological space. The knowledge society as it is usually described offers us new patterns for work and everyday life. But that does not mean that it also guarantees an automatic solution to the problems mentioned above.
On that account the whole concept seems to be much more of a tool for another kind of change. Behind the effort of marketing the knowledge society as the metaphor for a better future, can dimly be seen the forming of a new class of knowledge producers and handlers. A class striving for power, position and material benefit.
In addition the cream of this new class is developing into an international elite. It is not by chance that it will remain as the core of the international scientific society. Together with the corresponding economic and political elites that already exist, it could if the worst comes to the worst form a new and strong network of power at the very top of society. Ordinary people risk being left behind with a very limited influence on their own society.
Another set of risks is connected with the worship of specialized scientific knowledge. Other forms of knowledge as well as common experiences from life and work risk being downgraded in the shadow of the enormous piles of fragmented bits of knowledge that are produced by scientific institutions. Irreparable damage to competence in industrial life, public administrations and society as a whole may easily be the result.
The museums themselves are a part of the knowledge and information structure. Thus every museum and its staff must make a choice: either to join the new class and its struggle for power, position and benefits, or to try to develop the museum into a marketplace for public and critical debate. A debate on the risks and possibilities connected with what might possibly, but far from certainly, turn out to be a turning point in history.
Olof Eriksson är arkitekt och professor. Han har varit verksam vid den statliga byggnadsstyrelsen, chef för statens råd för byggnadsforskning, chef för sekretariatet för framtidsstudier, arbetat vid expertgruppen för forskning om regional utveckling, ERU, och är nu bl.a. ordförande för Dalarnas Forskningsråd.
Adresse: Tornedalsgatan 27, S-162 21 Vällingby.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 13-22
Museums and the spirit of the time
Some of the changes in museum activities in Sweden from the 1940s and onwards are examined and related to the changes in the general spirit of the time. The present structure of the Swedish museum system was established around 1940, with the setting up of a state-supported regional museum in each administrative region (län). It is noted that a generation shift took place among the directors of regional museums in the 1960s and that a renewal started then which foreshadowed the ideas expressed in the cultural policy officially adopted in 1974. In fact, a new Swedish museology dates to 1962, when Harald Hvarfner was made director of the northernmost regional museum in Luleå. He introduced a professional museum education programme and started a decentralisation of museum activities with itinerant exhibitions and close cooperation with the local history associations in the municipalities of the region. His initiatives became the model for many young directors and together they argued for the ideas in a book, A Museum for the Seventies, opposing the declared aims of a contemporaneous State committee working on a report about museums. The open, many-splendored museum of their dreams was very much attuned to the new cultural policy, where freedom of expression was promoted in all cultural fields. The controversial effects became especially apparent in a series of exhibitions produced by the newly formed 'Institute for Itinerant Exhibitions' (Riksutställningar) and in the activities of the Municipal Museum of Stockholm. Ecological issues, the problems of underdeveloped countries and the like dominated the exhibition programmes and every effort was made to attract a wider public; the museums tried to become open 'houses of culture'. Positivism was replaced by a hermeneutic approach focussing on the human aspect in the interpretation of objects. In the 80s, it is noted, there has been an apparent return to what many curators have perceived as neglected areas of museum work - conservation, care and the management of the collections.
Göran Rosander var sedan 1986 förstekonservator (intendent) vid Norsk Etnologisk Gransking, Oslo. Åren 1980-86 var han docent och tf professor i europeisk etnologi vid Uppsala universitet, 1970-78 knuten till Nordiska museet och den ledande konstruktören av det stora SAMDOK-projektet.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 23-30
'A Museum for the Seventies' - 25 years afterwards
'A Museum for the Seventies' was the title of a book published in 1970 by four young directors of regional museums opposing the ideas promoted by a state committee formed in 1965 (MUS 65) to propose changes in the structure and official tasks of Swedish public museums. In this paper one of the authors looks back on the fervent museum debate of the late 60s and early 70s. He also reflects on the outcome of the conflict and on developments in the aftermath of the confrontation between the two antagonistic concepts of the museum mission which lay at the bottom of the conflict. The four directors had argued for the unity of the heritage be it movable objects in the collections or, immovable prehistoric sites, ruins, historic buildings or cultivated land of historical significance. On this holistic idea the responsibility of the regional museum was originally founded. Now it was proposed that the responsibility for the care of the immovable cultural property should be transferred to the planning authorities of the regions. Those opposed to this proposal lost the argument and in Sweden there is now an antiquarian structure, separate from the museums, linked to the regional governments for the care of monuments and buildings. The paper closes however with the expression of a hope that the book may have contributed to museum development by describing - and thereby inspiring - ways to work that perhaps not everyone has as yet discovered. He also challenges a new generation of directors and curators to voice a vision of the museum for the new century!
Sten Rentzhog var 1967-71 landsantikvarie i Älvsborgs län, därefter har han varit landsantikvarie och länsmuseichef i Jämtlands län. Åren 1988-91 var han styresman för Nordiska museet och 1989-94 projektledare för 'Den Svenska Historien'.
Adresse: Jämtlands läns museum, Box 709,S-831 28 Östersund.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 31-38
Museums - instruments of power
The claim for authority associated with the idea of the museum is traced back to the etymological roots of the word and to the early royal and princely collections established to prove the legitimacy of a family or lineage. Basically the essence of the authority of a museum is considered to be its power to select the cultural heritage of a society as well as its privilege of interpreting the objects in its care. The close affinity between the verbal text of the scholar and the visual 'text' of the museum exhibition is underlined. But the authoritarian quality is also present as a subliminal influence in the atmosphere of the museum environment, where most often only a cultural élite feels at home. However the author has observed in his reception studies in museums that the ordinary visitors regularly sidestep the intended persuasion of the museum education by projecting their own private memories and experiences onto what they see in the museums, stimulated by the dreamlike visual world they encounter in the museum galleries. There is an unintended and neglected therapeutic quality to the museum visit!
Bengt Lundberg är historiker och massmedieforskare. Han är från 1995 prefekt för museologiska institutionen vid Umeå universitet.
Adr: Institutionen för museologi, Umeå universitet, S-901 87 Umeå.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 39-46
Ragnheidur H. Tórarinsdóttir:
Icelandic museums and their position in public culture
Icelandic museums are rooted in the national romantic movement of the 19th century and - as in the other Nordic countries - in the romantic search for a cultural identity. The National Museum was founded in 1863 in a period when the struggle for independence from Denmark culminated. Icelandic nationalism was again challenged in World War 2 which was also coincided with a period of an accelerated modernization. Many people leaving their place of birth for growing urban centres experienced an awakened nostalgic interest in the cultural history of the local places they had left. Another incentive for the creation of local museums to represent a national culture was the presence of Allied troops in the war years. The growth in the number of museums has continued in the post-war period. Three phases are distinguished. In the first phase voluntary enthusiasts are active in bringing together and exhibiting a collection. In the second professional curators appear who do not consider collecting but rather other museum functions as their most important tasks. The museums are normally managed by one person. In the third period professionalization continues, the staff now includes more specialists. In Iceland the antiquarian authority has been vested in Nordic philology, because of the treasure of medieval texts preserved there representing a unique source of knowledge about old Norse history and tradition. Historical truth is considered to be found only in the texts. For this reason the National Museum has had difficulties in gaining recognition when it has defended controversial ideas based on archaeological evidence about the history of the oldest settlement. It is only when archaeological and philological expertise are combined that the role of the museums is accorded respect and their views on the preservation of sites and historic buildings are listened to.
Ragnheidur H. Tórarinsdóttir er Mag.art i folkloristikk, nå seksjonssjef ved Kultur- og undervisningsministeriet bl.a. med museumsspørsmål som arbeidsfelt.
Adr. Kultur- og undervisningsministeriet, Sölvhólsgata 4, IS-150 Reykjavík.
Fax. +354-562 3068
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 47-60
Museum collecting and working-class culture
Collecting practice at the Workers' Museum in Copenhagen is described and discussed. First the author offers an argument for the field of collecting which the museum represents. The order of things as presented in a hierarchy determined by the market varies from another determined by the production of cultural heritage. However the two form a mutually reinforcing system. Beauty and uniqueness are highly valued in both hierarchies, and a museum looking for objects which do not belong to those categories represents a disturbance. But cultural history is largely produced by people whose conditions and experiences have long been overlooked. It has been possible to study working class history mainly in the library and archives of the Labour Movement. But it is argued that the worker's life experience can only be properly recorded through the methods of oral history and the collecting of everyday objects belonging to working life as well as home life and leisure. Such methods form the basis of the work in a museum of cultural history. A distinction is made regarding the preservation of industrial equipment, as the machines were owned by the industrialists not by the workers and should therefore be in the care of museums of technology. Examples of the collecting of the Workers' Museum are given in the form of objects from Copenhagen harbour and the donation to the museum of a worker's living quarters in the city, an apartment left unchanged since 1915. The importance of the museum for the self-esteem of the workers is underlined and its support from all over Denmark is shown by two maps illustrating the localities where objects in the museum were used and the localities to which the donors belong.
Annette Vasström er mag. art. i europæisk etnologi. Museumsinspektør på Arbejdermuseet i København siden 1986.
Adresse: Arbejdermuseet, Rømersgade 22, DK-1362 København K.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 61-66
Hugues de Varine:
The local museum as a process
The role of the museum in community development is discussed. The author, former director of ICOM, took an active part in promoting the active role of local museums in cultural development. He was inspired by his experiences of Scandinavian open air museums, neighbourhood museums in the United States and the Mexican school museums. They combined to form the basis for a strategy to make local museums instruments of social and cultural development. This strategy was first applied in the forming of the museum of Le Creusot in 1971 and then adopted during the famous Santiago Round Table conference in 1972. It was later integrated in the ecomuseum model, whose recent adaptation is described with examples from Portugal and Brazil. In a time perspective some problems arising from viewing the museum as a process in contrast to perceiving the museum as a permanent institution become apparent and the author pays special attention to the generation shift in the running of a museum. Finally a request for advice fromProfessor Bedekar at the University of Baroda, India, is quoted. He is concerned about the situation of the more than 4,000 different cultural, linguistic and ethnic communities, many of them obviously oppressed. To assist them, 'to liberate them culturally in order to be able to model their development and future according to their cultures and heritage' he would like to profit from worldwide experiences of local museum action. The appeal is made public and the author is prepared to act as an intermediary for such information to be passed on to Professor Bedekar.
Hugues de Varine var 1964-1974 direktör för den internationella museiorganisationen ICOM och knuten till dess sekretariat i Paris. Under några år på 1980-talet förestod han Institut Français i Lissabon och har senare ägnat sig åt lokala samhällsutvecklingsuppdrag på skilda håll i världen. Han har skrivit bl. a. ";La Culture des Autres"; 1976, ";O Tempo Social"; 1987 och ";L'initiative communautaire"; 1991.
Adr: F-21360 Lusigny-sur-Ouche.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 67-72
An industrial community and its heritage
This paper was given at the Seminar on Museums and Museology in Norway and Scandinavia, ICOFOM Stavanger July 2, 1995. It deals with the process of building an industrial and social museum from scratch in a small community. The author is a curator and director of the museum today and has been involved in the museum work from the beginning in 1985. At first the main task was to collect photos and interviews and to restore a workmen's dwelling with its original interior at different time periods. Today the museum is located in an historic building from 1914 and has expanded its activities with i.a. historical archives from the factories, books, slide shows and guided tours in the old hydro electric power station. The museum policy is to present society from a holistic point of view, both in terms of history and contemporary issues such as pollution problems. An important aim here is to use the museum as an educational institution for the local inhabitants, pupils and students, but also as a tourist attraction in an important tourist resort of our country.
The paper is available in English.
Randi Bårtvedt er utdanna etnolog frå Universitetet i Bergen, styrar og konservator ved Vestnorsk Industristadmuseum, Odda i Hardanger frå 1984.
Adr: Vestnorsk Industristadmuseum, Postboks 89, N-5770 Tyssedal
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 73-82
The Industrial Heritage in Sweden. 100 years of activities
Since the turn of the century 1900 attention has been paid to the Swedish Industrial Heritage. The development of activities concerned with the industrial past can be described in four phases.
The first one is characterized by the growing interest in Sweden's industrial past which occurred in the early years of the 20th Century. It was focused on the old mining and metal industry and its remains. Famous writers and artists were preoccupied with the world of the peasant ironmakers and ironworks' estates and their owners. Some of the leading industrialists within the iron and steel companies took an active interest in the preservation of the industry's cultural heritage and promoted conservation of documents and buildings. It gave legitimacy to the subject.
The second stage is the decennium of pioneering industrial museums in Sweden: Tekniska Museet was founded in 1924 but 12 years passed before it was inaugurated in its present building. The mining museum at Falun opened in 1924 and in the same year the first decision was taken to create an industrial open-air mining museum at Ludvika. These initiatives gave birth to many others as well as to industrial company museums. Collections of old documents were brought together and documentary films on vanishing industries and working environments were made.
The third stage was the establishment and acceptancy of the cultural importance of the industrial heritage in wider circles of society, especially the national and regional conservation bodies and the labour unions. National actions were encouraged by the international development within the field and some attention is given in the article to the evolvement of Industrial Archaeology in the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 1960s.
During the fourth period we have seen how the tasks of Industrial Archaeology have been reformulated. Adaptive re-use of factories and similar buildings were taken up. Contemporary documentation was initiated by Nordiska museet. Much attention was given to the working environment and to men and women at work. The concept of the eco-museum was accepted and gave birth to a number of museums focused mainly on the remains of the iron industry. The activities within the field of Industrial Heritage have increased during the 1990s and the Central Board of National Antiquities has been endowed with the task to present a plan for future national and regional actions and to select a number of 15 outstanding buildings and sites for future conservation. A number of institutions and organisations engaged in the conservation, documentation and research work of the Industrial Heritage have created a Forum for the Industrial Heritage in order to promote co-operation within this field of studies.
Marie Nisser är professor i Industriminnesforskning vid Avdelningen för teknik- och vetenskapshistoria vid Kungl. Tekniska Högskolan i Stockholm.
Adr: Avdelningen för teknik- och vetenskapshistoria, KTH, S-100 44 Stockholm.Fax +46 -(0) -24 62 63.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 83-92
Some thoughts concerning EKODOK90
EKODOK90 was a documentary project started with the instigation of a national report on museums published in 1986. Among the proposals put forward in the report were several activities aimed at including some important contemporary issues on the agenda of the museums. One topic to receive attention was the great environmental changes taking place. A photographic project called EKODOK90 was planned to deal with this theme. Its method was inspired by the FSA-project in the United States and the more recent French DATAR project. It was initiated and organized by the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs and - thanks to substantial financial support from the Labour Market Board - carried out by unemployed photographers, writers and journalists. They worked in small teams with some of the regional museums. The project was coordinated by Nordiska Museet and the resulting documentary material is available at the regional museums. Some of it has been presented in temporary exhibitions, a selection has been published by Nordiska Museet in a magnificent volume entitled 'In the Hands of Man' (1993). The author who was a key person in the realization of the project is not however quite content with the outcome of the project. The main purpose, in his opinion, was to convince museums of their responsibility, not sufficiently accepted, for the moulding of public opinion in matters related to the ongoing degradation of the environment as well as to make them aware of the importance of continuous photographic documentation of changes in the physical environment. But once the project with its exclusive financing was over, no museum took upon itself to plan for its continuation. Also a more active use of the available photographic collection may have been possible.
Bo Nilsson är byrådirektör knuten till kansliet för konst, museer och utställningar vid Statens kulturråd. Han har tidigare arbetat vid Nordiska museet och Stockholms stadsmuseum.
Adr: Statens kulturråd, Box 7843, S-103 98 Stockholm.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 93-100
Rather a newly bathed sinner than three righteous ones with sweaty feet
The author states that in all her writings, lectures and seminars in recent years, she has returned again and again to the same basic issue: the nature of the museum exhibition as means of communication for the various messages and meanings inherent in the objects (cf 'Nordisk Museologi' 1995:1, p. 51-52). She is finally convinced that the exhibition must be considered an artistic medium and that it is only when an artist has interpreted the theme and the objects available for the exhibition that a meaningful contemporary communication can be arrived at. Quoting the present Minister of Culture, Mrs Margot Wallström, resident in Karlstad, who said that she would like to be <<touched, seduced, disgusted, shocked>> when visiting a museum, the author hopes that both the Minister and herself will be satisfied by an exhibition project now underway in the museum in Karlstad, where a poet and an artist have been invited to use all the holding resources of the museum to express themselves. She argues for the introduction of a qualified training for communicators in museum.
Eva Persson var 1967-89 utställningsproducent vid Riksutställningar, Stockholm, 1989-93 konstnärlig ledare och producent vid Arbetets museum, Norrköping. Hon är f.n. frilansande utställningsproducent.
Adr: Brännkyrkagatan 113, S-117 28 Stockholm.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 101-108
The right to a frame of one's own
After completing an exhibition about a match-producing factory in Jönköping and the working conditions there at the turn of the century the author reflects on the decisions an producer of exhibitions must take about what objects to select, what facts and circumstances to highlight. The producer has the power to create and present a picture of the past, which implies a somewhat terrifying responsibility. What the deeper motives lie behind the decisions? The visitors are often confronted with idealized personalities, families and social groups corresponding to current clichés and cherished dreams, more or less conscious in the producers' minds and normally left out when the planning process is accounted for. She was herself very preoccupied with all the anonymous children working in the factory whom she could only meet as names on pay-rolls and as indistinct faces on some rare photographs of the labour force of the factory. She insisted on giving them a particular presence in the exhibition by making individual enhancements of some of the children's faces and framing them separately in a small gallery. She asks herself why she insisted and finds the explanation in a childhood experience. She is the youngest of four sisters and experienced the frustration of being left out or forgotten on many important occasions because, being the youngest, she felt that she was not seen and did not really count. Perhaps this has given her a special sensibility towards the situation of other children.
Clara Åhlvik är ekonomhistoriker. Efter frilansverksamhet som utställningsproducent är hon numera utställningschef vid Riksutställningar.
Adr: Riksutställningar, Box 4715, S-116 92 Stockholm.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 109-114
Curators should not take the trouble...
Sweden has a comparatively large number of museums honouring famous people, considering the size of its population. Of those museums, 69 in all, 20 are devoted to authors and 18 to artists. In contrast to similar museums in Western Europe, only a few Swedish museums celebrate composers and musicians, which is also true of politicians and churchmen. The latter categories seem also to be rather few in Western (as opposed to Eastern) Europe. Innovators and scientists are the subject of nine museums - Carolus Linnæus of no less than three. Several museums honouring Alfred Nobel are being planned. The number of 'biographic' museums is rising. The most important reason seems to be a local interest in celebrating a famous person born in the locality. Furthermore they are popular visiting places. History seems to gain a particular interest when it is embodied in an individual life-story. Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam is the outstanding example of this. A museum specifically devoted to Nazi atrocities and the persecution of Jews would not presumably attract as many visitors, numbering 600,000 in the case of Anne Frank's House.
Mikael Parr är utställningschef vid Arbetets museum, Norrköping.
Adr: Arbetets museum, Laxholmen, S-602 21 Norrköping.
Fax +46-11 182290.
From Nordisk Museologi 1996/1: SUMMARY pp. 115-120
The problem of 'non-museums'
In national reports on museums from 1922 and onwards various estimates have been made concerning the exact number of museums in the country. Local collections have either been considered museums or non-museums. In recent official statistics facts and figures are offered concerning 210 museums, including 45 local collections. However the most recent museum report has suggested that altogether 750 collections could claim to be called museums, a figure which includes c. 100 local collections This paper argues that the official figure does not take into account that more than 1,000 local collections are owned by local museum associations and regarded as museums according to information about the number of insurances taken out by local associations in possession of historical buildings and collections. It is also argued that local collections should be accepted and studied as a special cultural expression in themselves. To establish a museum, however modest, is a way of paying tribute to the idea of a cultural heritage.
Maria Björkroth är knuten till kulturmiljöenheten vid Länsstyrelsen i Kopparbergs län, Falun. Hon arbetar med en doktorsavhandling om hembygdsrörelsen i Dalarna.
Adr: Övre Nybovägen 4, S-770 71 Stjärnsund.