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2013/2 Abstracts

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 3-16

Britta Tøndborg *

Title: Participatory practies and controversy in museums today

Abstract: Whereas museums shunned controversy in the past, this article argues that as museums embrace the new trend of audience participation some have also opted to introduce "hot topics” into museum exhibitions. Museum professionals who have adopted this particular form of museum practice predict that it has the potential to reform museums as we know them, and to turn museums into active agents for democratic change in society. In a bid to understand and scrutinize the implications of this development in museums, the article consults critiques raised by art critics writing about a related development in contemporary art, i.e. relational and participatory art forms.

Keywords: Museums, controversy, hot topics, participation, relational art.

* Britta Tøndborg, ph. d., post. doc.

Adresse:Dep. of Aesthetics and Communication, Centre for Museology, Aarhus University, Langelandsgade 139, DK-8000 Århus C, Danmark

E-mail: cfmbt@hum.au.dk

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 17-32

Marzia Varutti*

Title:Controversial indigeneity

Abstract:This article explores how museums in Taiwan represent a group, called Pingpu, whose indigenous status is highly contested. Pingpu specific cultural features have almost disappeared as a result of centuries of exchanges with Han Chinese settlers. As a consequence, Pingpu groups have not received official indigenous recognition by the Taiwanese government. Yet Pingpu groups are actively seeking recognition through public demonstrations and promoting public awareness of Pingpu concerns. The official recognition of Pingpu's indigeneity is an ongoing, decades-long, controversial issue in Taiwan. Museums are one of the foci through which Pingpu issues are gaining visibility in Taiwan. But how are they dealing with this controversial issue? More broadly, what position can or should museums take in relation to contested indigenous claims to recognition? This article discusses recent exhibitions representing Pingpu at the light of the politics of representation of indigenous groups and the transformation of museums' social roles in contemporary Taiwan.

Key words: Museums, indigenous peoples, Taiwan, activism, recognition, controversy.

*Marzia Varutti, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow

Address:Centre for Museum Studies, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo, Postboks 1010 Blindern, NO-0315 Oslo, Norway

E-mail: marzia.varutti@ikos.uio.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 33-50

Cecilia Rodéhn*

Title: "Thus our display will be honest but may be controversial"

Abstract:This paper seeks to re-describe democratization of heritage by focusing on controversies connected to the work with the exhibition entitled Stories of Peoples History in Southern Africa staged at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum (South Africa). The investigation is based on archival material as well as participant observation and qualitative interviews. The material is analysed using performance theory and theories about democratization processes. The article comes to the conclusion that a focus on curatorial performances reveals controversies and developments that fall outside the traditional conceptualization of a democratization process. The text argues that this focus assists in moving beyond the binary position that democracy and “non-democracy” have received in scholarly publications. The text proposes that a democratization of heritage involves an entanglement of ideas and values. It does not necessarily involve a “better” heritage but instead an appropriation from a different political perspective.

Key words:Exhibitions, South Africa, democratization, apartheid, performance theory, archaeology.

*Cecilia Rodéhn, Ph.D. in Museum Studies, postdoctoral researcher

Adresse: Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Engelska parken, Humanistiskt centrum, Box 527, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

E-mail: cecilia.rodehn@gender.uu.se

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 51-66

Olav Hamran* & Ellen Lange*

Title: Overgrep på museum

Abstract: In a 2008 project about children suffering from tuberculosis in the 1950s, the Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology, Industry and Medicine was struggling with the question of how to display personal stories of coercion and abuse. This article investigates how such memories from childhood were made into "artefacts” that could be exhibited in the museum and published in a catalogue. How were these objects constructed at the museum, in the media and by the museum visitors, and how were they understood? Were the main points of interest what happened then - the historical facts or phenomena — or what happened now; in the form of the storytellers telling their story today? The article focuses on discussions and negotiations between the curators and other employees at the museum, “the sanatorium children” and the media during the production process and after. How did the museum act and change while working with such controversial issues?

Key words:Exhibition, museum, musealisation, sanatorium, tuberculosis, personal memories, abuse, sexual assault, understanding of history.

* Olav Hamran, historiker, leder Nasjonalt medisinsk museum
*Ellen Lange, litteraturviter, kurator Nasjonalt medisinsk museum

Adresse: Norsk teknisk museum, Kjelsåsveien 143, NO-0491 Oslo, Norge

E-mail: olav.hamran@tekniskmuseum.no, ellen.lange@tekniskmuseum.no

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 67-78

Katrine Tinning*

Title: Museum pedagogy and the evocation of moments of responsibility

Abstract: In 2010-11, an exhibition entitled Its not Your Fault! was on display at The Womens Museum in Denmark. The museum aimed to contribute to the prevention of rape by giving young people, who were the target group, a sense of shared responsibility for the prevention of rape. In this article, the museums hopes regarding the prevention of rape are read as a hope of deepening of responsibility. The exhibition is approached as a conglomerate of didactic materials and contents that may encourage visitors to engage in educational relations with the museum regarding traumatic events of sexual violence. The potential of the design and dramaturgy of the exhibition to evoke moments of ethical responsibility is explored. Inspired by Emmanuel Lévinas, the article discusses the joint emergence of learning and responsibility, and approaches ethical responsibility in the double sense of response and care. This particular point in grounding ethics in education is discussed in relation to central features of the exhibition. It is suggested that such features, like the poetic re-interpretations in the exhibition, have the potential of meeting and unsettling the visitor and lay the grounds for ethical responsibility and for critical re-thinking. However, it is also discussed how the exhibition represents controversial issues in regard to displaying the subject.

Key words:Museum education, difficult exhibitions, sexual violence, responsibility, learning, sensibility.

*Katrine Tinning, Ph.D. student

Adresse: Department of Sociology, Division of Education, Lund University, Box 114, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

E-mail: katrine.tinning@soc.lu.se

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 79-97

Mikkel Kirkedahl Nielsen* & Christian Ringskou*

Title: En middelalderdronning og en tysk bunkersoldat

Abstract: This article breaks with a traditional truth-lie dichotomy in an attempt to remove the phenomena of the myth from the lie. The authors relate parts of the postmodern discussion of the role of history and Ankersmit’s narrative substances to empirical material in the form of two recent exhibitions challenging myths — about a Danish medieval queen and a German Nazi soldier in a fortified bunker in Denmark, respectively. This unfolds perspectives about how museums add to myth as well as putting myths into perspective, which in turn points to the role of the museum as a place where narratives are constructed through selective processes every day. From an identity perspective, this shifts interest from a positivist-influenced approach to whether stories told by museums can be said to be true or false to a question of producing exhibitions to which visitors can relate and usefully discuss.

Key words: Myths, identity, the role of the museum, narratives, narrative substance.

*Mikkel Kirkedahl Nielsen, museumsinspektør ved Sydvestjyske Museer og ph. d.-stipendiat ved Centre for Design, Learning and Innovation, Aalborg Universitet, Esbjerg

Adress: Sydvestjyske Museer, Tangevej 6, DK-6760 Ribe, Danmark

E-mail: mikni@sydvestjyskemuseer.dk

*Christian Ringskou, museumsinspektør med ansvar for udstillinger og samlinger ved Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum

E-mail: cr@levendehistorie.dk

Adress: Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum, Bundsbækvej 2, DK-6900 Skjern, Danmark

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 98-115

Hanne Strager* & Peter C. Kjærgaard*

Title: Is Darwin dangerous?

Abstract: What defines a topic as controversial? How does one measure its significance? Is it what commentators find controversial, what a majority of people think, or what generates the most heated debates? There is general consensus that evolution has been a controversial topic since the mid-nineteenth century. The scientific debate was settled in the 1930s with the modern synthesis bringing genetics and the theory of evolution by natural selection together within a single theoretical framework. The public debates, however, continued, mainly due to religiously motivated anti-evolution activists. The conflict narrative of science and religion with evolution versus creation has been — and still is — a particular favourite with the press. Consequently, the media is complicit in maintaining evolution as a controversial topic. This is the reality natural history museums have to deal with when communicating evolution. The question is whether it makes any difference which strategies museums take and, if so, whether it is possible to measure the difference. The authors discuss the role natural history museums have in the public discourse of evolution by looking at the different approaches in 2009 to the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwins birth, comparing it to the media coverage of the events in the Scandinavian countries.

Key words: Evolution, human origins, natural history museums, exhibitions, news media, public understanding of science, creationism, Charles Darwin.

* Hanne Strager, Cand. Scient.

Adress: Museum Minds, Statens Naturhistoriske Museum, Øster Voldgade 5-7, DK-1350 København K, Denmark

E-mail: hstrager@snm.ku.dk

*Peter C. Kjærgaard, Professor, Ph.D.

E-mail: kjaergaard@cas.au.dk

Adress: Centre for Biocultural History, Aarhus University, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 7, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 116-130

Sabine Nielsen*

Title: Kontroversiel kuratering

Abstract: Based on artist Thomas Hirschhorns installation entitled Bataille Monument, the article discusses how controversial works of art situated outside the art museum can address local communities as fragmented and conflicted communities. It is argued that public spaces should be perceived as zones where potentially different and contradictory social, ethnic, economic and cultural participatory positions can interact, calling for an active negotiation process. Based on theoretical reflections on so-called radical democracy, it is argued that democratic societies and their museum institutions could benefit from focusing on contemporary conflictual and debatable issues.

Key words: Off-site museum projects, public space, Bataille Monument, radical democracy, conflictual consensus.

* Sabine Nielsen, Ph.D. student

Adress: Københavns Universitet, Karen Blixensvej 1, DK-2300 København S
KØS - Museum of Art in Public Spaces, Nørregade 29, DK - 4600 Køge

E-mail: sabinenielsen@hotmail.com

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 131-146

Merete Sanderhoff*

Title: Open Images

Abstract: Museums around the world hold enormous troves of public domain artworks. In digitized form, they can be powerful tools for research and learning, as well as building blocks in the hands of students, teachers, scholars, developers and creative people. By opening up their digitized assets for reuse, museums have a unique opportunity to broaden the scope of their public mission to serve and educate the public on 21st-century media terms. What could be controversial about that? Art museums have a long legacy of restricting access to high-quality images of artworks in order to protect them from improper use, and to be able to secure revenue from image sales. However, in the age of easy and ubiquitous online image sharing, restrictive licensing is severely challenged both as a means to control usage of images and as a sustainable business model.

Key words: Digitized collections, image licensing, open access policy, public domain, copyright, Creative Commons, reuse, the social Web, business models, OpenGLAM.

*Merete Sanderhoff, Research Scholar

Address: Statens Museum for Kunst, SAFO, Sølvgade 48-50, DK-1307 Copenhagen K, Denmark

E-mail: merete.sanderhoff@smk.dk
Web: www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/research/the-researchers/merete-sanderhoff

From Nordisk Museologi 2013/2, Abstract pp. 147-157

Katherine Hauptman* & Fredrik Svanberg*

Title: Het historia, svala museer 1

Abstract: There is an ongoing tension between the modern museum concept, rooted in deep traditions within modernity, and the developments within the humanities over the last 30 years. The later movement, and not the least within museology, normally strives towards a more socially engaging museum, working with contemporary social and cultural issues. The article describes and discusses a number of research and development projects dealing with involvement, public archaeology, gender, diversity and the uses of history that have been undertaken by the authors at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm during the last six years. Some points covered in the article are that dividing lines, or opposing positions, are often not between institutions but between different kinds of activities within institutions, and that institutions eager to work with a broader scope and to engage socially will also have to deal with more debates and criticism as well as the potential for threats against staff. Museums have the power to re-imagine and to have an effect on public culture, but that is a process not without complexity.

Key words: Hot topics, public archaeology, museums and gender, museums and diversity.

* Katherine Hauptman, projektledare och FoU-ansvarigför kommunikation och publik
* Fredrik Svanberg, forskningschef

Address: Historiska museet, Box 5428, SE-114 84 Stockholm, Sverige

E-mail: katherine.hauptman@historiska.se, fredrik.svanberg@historiska.se

Copyright 2010 Nordisk Museologi