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1999/1 Summaries


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 3-16

Lennart Palmqvist

The first Renaissance Museums in Rome and Florence

This paper argues that the archaeological and antiquarian research by the Renaissance humanists in Rome inspired Pope Sixtus IV to donate a collec-tion of ancient bronzes from the Lateran to the Capitol in 1471. This led to the start of the musealization of the Capitol which culminated in the forming of a historical museum at the Palazzo dei Conservatori during Paul III's pontificate in the 1530s. Paul III's plan for the renewal of the Capitol included the transfer to the Capitoline Hill of the equestrian monument of Marcus Aurelius from the Lateran as well as Michelangelo's new design for the buildings and the piazza. The public forum of the Capitol with its display of historical sculpture and other objects of authenticity conveyed a symbolic content, relating to Rome's historic past, and thus evoked a variety of positive meanings for the future of the city. It is further argued that the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Capitoline Hill was transformed from a municipal government building to a historical museum through highly concious political enactments by some of the Renaissance popes.
In Florence the musealization during the Renaissance took another direction due to a different political and social situation. Vasari's role in forming a concept for the future art museums in Europe has not previously been observed. In a short concluding note the article underlines that the achievements and influence of the talented Vasari also included principles for the displaying of art in gallery/ museum expositions. The debt to Vasari, in the formalization of art collections in the early museums of Europe, should be acknowledged and evaluated.


Lennart Palmqvist är klassisk arkeolog och leder
den akademiska utbildningen i museikunskap vid Stockholms universitet.
Adr. Historiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, S-10691 Stockholm
Email: lennart.palmqvist@historia su.se


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 33-38

Carsten Paludan-Müller

History imagined and history as monuments and space - some reflections

The paper discusses the difference in experiencing past realities indirectly and directly. Either these realiries are represented verbally and visually to be read, viewed - and imagined. Or they are directly available to all senses in the physical surroundings, as remaining monuments and buildings. Partly available they are exhibited in museums as material objects. It is further argued that there is a fundamental difference between the multisensory experience of entering the genuine historical space of a church or walking the streets of an old well-preserved town or village and studying the representations offered in museums where the objects are combined with texts and supporting visuals. The author points to the significant role monuments from the past have played through history in stimulating and shaping aesthetic taste and architectural ideas, from the Renaissance and the Baroque to the historicism of the 19th century. Monuments have served both as a counterpoint to modernity and as a Well of Time through which we perceive bygone realities.

Carsten Paludan-Müller er kulturhistoriker
knyttet til Skov- og Naturstyrelsen med ansvar
for kulturminnene.
Adr: Skov- og Naturstyrelsen, Haraldsgade 53,
DK-København Ø
Fax: +45 39472051
Email: spm@sns.dk


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 39-62

Brita Brenna

A true and vivid picture of the world;
world exhibitions and museum history

Norwegian participation in International Exhibitions, World Fairs and Expositions Universelles in the last century and its potential relationship to museum history is the subject of this paper. It starts with a juxtaposition of EXPO'98 in Lisbon and the international exhibitions that were arranged in the last century. The juxtaposition highlights how the cultural effects of ideas are transmitted by international exhibitions and how the rationale for such events has changed since the 19th century. This comparison serves as a background for a discussion of the exhibitions of the last century in museological terms. It is argued that there are good reasons for a comparison and for viewing the international exhibitions in the light of the development of museums and museum practice.
Works by Eilean Hooper-Greenhill and Tony Bennett are used to raise new questions and bring perspectives to the study of the Norwegian participation in the exhibitions. How can their theories be used to discern new features in this participation? The paper presents some of the main arguments in Hooper-Greenhill's book Museum and the Shaping of Knowledge and Tony Bennett'sThe Birth of the Museum. History, Theory, Politics.
The classification systems applied in the world exhibitions and the importance of these systems for a country like Norway are discussed with the aid of Hooper-Greenhill's concepts for analysing the forming of museums. Studying different collections she emphasises four elements: the rationality expressed mainly in the classification, the differing meanings of the objects, the shifting position of the subjects, and the various orderings of space. The classification systems are seen as vehicles for expressing rationalities, that confer meaning on objects, allot and delimit different subject positions and orderings of space.
In the second chapter in particular, The Exhibitionary Complex, in his book Tony Bennett has focused on World Exhibitions as disciplinary institutions that order both the public and the nations on display. His text already represents a juxtaposition of museum history and exhibition history which is very useful. He ties the exhibitions explicitly to government policies and to the state. His ideas are used to understand how the Norwegian government was both inspired by and took advantage of the exhibitions to place itself on the side of the world's civilized peoples and on the side of the hegemonic powers. Bennett's claim concerning the civilizing effects of exhibitions is thus extended to the function of exhibitions internationally, influencing states other than those arranging the World Exhibitions.
The conclusion is that the study of exhibitions has much to gain from the theoretical framework developed in museology. This is not a new finding, but this particular application has not been made before. It is emphasised that the works of Bennett and Hooper-Greenhill are important in their combination of micro- and macroanalyses. They make interesting and important connections between the history of knowledge, bodies, artefacts and power. And they do it in a manner that is complementary and thus significant.


Brita Brenna er cand.philol. i idéhistorie. Ph.D.-student på Senter for teknologi, innovasjon og kultur ved Universitetet i Oslo med prosjektet «Kulturelle kamper om nasjonal identitet. Norge på utstilling 1851-1914». Interesse for feministisk vitenskapsteori, kulturstudier og studier av materiell kultur.
Adr: Senter for teknologi og menneskelige verdier (TMV), Gaustadalléen 21, N-0371 Oslo
Email: britab@tmv.uio.no


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 63-74

Hilde Gaard

The Exhibition as Document
in Modern and Postmodern Times

The aim of this article is to focus on whether we can speak of modern and postmodern exhibitions as two separate categories. What are the main characteristics that separate the postmodern museum exhibition from its former counterpart? The concept of modernity has been perceived in several different ways from the 5th century AD up to the 20th century. Pitt Rivers published «The Evolution of Culture» in 1875. Both this publication and his ethnographical exhibition in Oxford revealed how the concept of modernity had become Darwinist. Man (i.e. European man) had gradually reached higher levels of development, and linear arrangements of artefacts in vast rows (from primitive towards advanced) were intended to verify this Darwinist discourse. His Oxford exhibition can be considered as object-oriented.
A different approach to the modern museum exhibition characterized Artur Hazelius and his 'tableaux vivants'. His open air museum Skansen represented a new approach to the concept of modernity, since the attention was directed to the objects in a context rather than the objects isolated from any environment.
This essay argues that there are at least three different categories of postmodern museum exhibitions. One major difference between modernism and postmodernism is the lack in all three categories of any acknowledgement of aura-quality attached to a genuine original object. Postmodernism uses parody, mockery, sentimental nostalgia or whatever means are available in order to move the focus from the exhibits to the visitor.
The «Fluffs & Feathers» exhibition hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum in 1992 is a typical example. This exhibition was aimed at the assumed prejudicies of the visitors concerning Indian cultures rather than at any attempt to describe Indian cultures as such.
At the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC the visitor is forced to identify with a holocaust victim. The distinction between representation and reality is reduced to an extent where it equals Jean Baudrillard's term 'simulacrum'.
A third postmodern way of exposing museum exhibits to the public is the digital or multimedial CD-ROM productions such as 'Le Louvre' or 'Kon-Tiki Interactive'. Through the extensive use of links and hypertext the one, singular, linear narrative becomes an impossibility. Each person's 'reading' will be unique.


Hilde Gaard er cand.mag., holder for tiden på med hovedfag i dokumentasjonsvitenskap ved Universitetet i Tromsø, med spesiell interesse for museumsutstillingen som en særlig dokumentasjonsform.
Adr.: Stakkevollveien 27, N-9010 Tromsø
e-mail: hilde.gaard@hum.uit.no


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 75-100

Hans Egede-Nissen

Sverre Fehn and his theory of exhibitions

In the 17th century a largebarn was erected on the ruins of a medieval bishop's residence at Hamar in Norway. Today it has been transformed into a historical museum, Storhamarlåven. The exhibition of historical objects has been designed by the famous architect Sverre Fehn. In this paper, which is a chapter in a more extensive study of Fehn, the author analyses the exhibition against the background of Fehn's own writings and statements made in press interviews. The author finds that Fehn in his adherence to modernism, is akin to Elias Cannetti who has characterized 'history' as an old vampire sucking the blood out of young people's brains and who argues that people who do not make their way out of history are irretrievably lost. How can Fehn combine the modernistic rejection of everything with a taste for history and nationalism with the museological responsibility to further identity and factual historical information? Both aims to be achieved through the medium of material objects.

Hans Egede-Nissen er cand.philol. i kunsthistorie
med en oppgave om Sverre Fehns innsatser som
utstillingsarkitekt.
Adr. Damstredet 5, N-0177 Oslo
E-post: hansege@online.no


From Nordisk Museologi 1999/1, SUMMARY pp. 155-172

Bruno Ingemann

Close to individual reading strategies and reception of an exhibition

If you want to know how the museum visitor experiences the exhibition there is a long tradition of using registration of the visitors' moves in the exhibition to find out where the hot-spots are; or using questionnaires to collect information that can easily be quantified; or using qualitative interviews of the visitor after the museum experience.
The problem with these methods is that the visitor needs to formulate a meaning for his or her experience and in this reconstruction of the visit often adds elements that were not present in the experience itself.
The aim of The Museum Experience Project is to get closer to the real walking-around in the exhibition and to the meaning potential the visitor has a chance of realising.
My interest is: What and how does the visitor experience the exhibition at the museum - and how does the visitor create meaning out of the experience?
These considerations led me to construct an equipment that can be used to register how the visitor walks around in the exhibition and what he or she really looks at, to create an empirical foundation for an analysis of the visitor's values.
I constructed a cap equipped with a very small videocamera. The visitor wears this cap on his head and as the visitor moves his head the videocamera moves too. The visitor also carries a rucksack containing a small videorecorder.
The informant walks around the exhibition with a friend because the museum visit is primarily a social activity. The recorder simultaneously makes a record of the natural speech of the informants as they walk around the exhibition. What is recorded on this 'walk­p;video' is pictures of what the informant looks at, and the conversation the two visitors have with each other while walking around.
The empirical data for the project is collected in two ways:
· the 'walk-video'
· the interview video
The 'walk-video' can be seen recording a rather undisturbed viewing of the exhibition. This part was followed by the researcher asking the informant to select three objects or areas of the exhibition that were of special interest to her/him personally. This interview is conducted in front of the selected objects with the researcher now wearing the videocap. The aim of this interview is to make the informant talk about the experience and the associations connected with the selected objects.
These two video recordings form the empirical foundation for the analysis the researcher can make after the visit.

The selected museum was Københavns Bymuseum - Copenhagen's museum of cultural history, and the selected part of the museum was that concerning this century.
In this paper I analyse the 'walk-video' of Anne and Rikke, two women aged 25. I was struck by the fact that the important objects were observed only half as much as that part of the exhibition that consists of photos and text.
From the analysis of the 'walk-video' I could construct six categories:
· Relation of knowledge
· Internal relations
· External relations
· Relations of recognition
· Sensation relations
· Media relations

These six relations could then be combined into the theory of the four gazes - which are the reading strategies Anne chose. The four gazes comprised in the theory are:
The Locked Gaze where the reader expects recognition and confirmation - I see within my well-known scheme of things;
The Opening Gaze where the reader expects extension of her experience and in the transaction focuses on the aesthetic and the surprising;
The Pragmatic Gaze where the reader looks for models of how to live her life;
The Reflecting Gaze where the reader's own life and experience are reflected in the life and experience of »the other«.
It is important to add that a real reader uses two or more reading strategies and shifts among them.
The factual analysis of the 'walk-video' shows that Anne is not creating the story of the exhibition as planned by the museum curator. Her main values are aesthetic and lie in the quality of the objects she looks at. It is important for her to make personal relations. The objects are not important in themselves and for her the surprising knowledge is in the photos and the related text. She is a very good visitor and she constructs relations within the exhibition and to her own life in a very creative way.

This project is at the beginning of a process. It has shown great potential for creating an empirical material that can be used to reconstruct what and how the visitor experiences the exhibition at the museum - and how the visitor creates meaning. The plan is for the project to continue involving 8­p;16 informants at the same museum. Later the project will be extended to art galleries.


Bruno Ingemann är lektor ph.d. i visuel kommunikation vid Roskilde Universitetscenter, Institut for Kommunikation.
Adr: Roskilde Universitetscenter, Institut for Kommunikation og Datalogi, P.O.Box 260, DK­p;4000 Roskilde, Danmark.
E-mail: bruno@ruc.dk


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