We Are Museums (France)
Are museums hotels or community centres, working spaces, wellness destinations, start-up incubators, learning centres, refugee welcome centres, or laboratories of the evolution of humanity? This paper will discuss a research project which analysed the past and present of museums to define five museum models for 2030: the activist museum, the entrepreneurial museum, the neighbourhood museum, the medina museum, and the transformative museum.
Saint-Petersburg State University (Russia)
The Russian Museum of Ethnography (Russia)
Reflecting on Skansens in the Post-Soviet States
The quantitative growth and distribution of open-air museums between 1960-1980 in the USSR coincided with the improvement of theoretical and methodological bases of skansens in Europe and the elaboration of approaches to open-air museums within ICOM. The foreign museum initially conducted related domestic research and a partial replication of Skansen, "Kolomna", in Brivdabas. The Soviet methodical guidance on the direction of skansens since the '80s has set the further development of museums in motion. In the elaboration of architectural and ethnographic forms of open-air museums, the Museum of the Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR has played a significant role.
Since the skansen is an effective means of translating national historical and cultural identity to new generations after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, politics of memory implemented by the governments of newly independent States had an impact on both the expositions and demonstrations of customs, traditions, crafts and national holidays in the skansens. National strategies for the museums were also developed. Large budget cuts in the 1990s led to the elaboration of marketing strategies for museums. It is apparent that these new conditions require foreign experience, where such issues are studied and implemented. Some museums are members of international organizations such as ICOM, and the Association of European Open-air Museums. Some of them actively promote UNESCO ideas and principles (Rocca al Mare).
This paper considers the modern trends and orientations in the development of skansens in the post-Soviet area. The report focuses on the following key topics: the legacy of the Soviet period, national strategies for open-air museums in newly independent States, issues of replication of foreign experience, and involvement of museums in the activities of international organizations. Through a comparative report, based on the results of museum questionnaire responses, other numerous documentary sources, and personal impressions, we attempt to indicate the area of convergence or divergence of such processes at the regional level.
Rousse Regional Museum of History (Bulgaria)
Images of the Local Community in the Focus of the Museum
New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria)
Cultural landscapes and the museum - in search of a dialogue with the local communities
Rousse Regional Museum of History (Bulgaria)
Heritage and Local Communities along the river Yantra in Central Northern Bulgaria
These posters aim to present forms of change that occur within the relationship between “local communities – local heritages” within a defined territory. The effects of a shift in attitude and a rationalization of heritage by locals is traceable in the reflections of its representation, especially within a museum context. The territories where research takes place are primarily rural areas, not densely populated, but are marked by important historical events – elements of the “Large Narrative” of the country’s national history, as well as affirmed in urban centres, which focus on the presentation of local heritage.
The posters are based on research by the collective project “Cultural Resources, Valorisation of Heritages and Local Development”, financed by the National Fund for Scientific Research of the Republic of Bulgaria. The project analyses the relationship between cultural heritage and its valorization by local communities and museums, with the aim of local development in different towns in Bulgaria, and with an emphasis on the way they change over time and affect identities in different periods of time.
By presenting results of the current research project, the posters aim to display the topic of the developed view and attitude towards heritage on behalf of the local communities. The posters refer to some of the main topics of the conference and contain three texts, united around the shifting notion of the value of local heritage and its use as visual means of communication, forming the specifics of the cultural landscape in a certain territorial and community range.
Iskren Velikov focuses on heritage and local communities, officially presented within museums. He examines the sites that belong to antiquity and to the “Times of Heroism” (the struggle for national liberation in the XIX century). These are elements of the cultural landscape, which are part of the museum representations since they are segments of the “strong” position of the official narrative.
Nikolay Nenov presents the changes in self-presentation by the local community of the village of Novgrad in the recent past, as well as the contemporary interpretations of heritage and the search for identity through archaeological studies and the use of ecosystems, which include tourism, fishery, etc. The study traces propaganda images, reflected in the albums from the period of socialism, as well as the present-day activities, which include the monument of Lenin (the only one in Bulgaria), archaeological studies on a Roman fort, part of the Roman Danube Limes, represented in the Regional Museum of History, as well as the ecosystem of fishermen and nature along the Danube, displayed in the Ecomuseum.
Irena Bokova focuses on urban landscapes and local communities in search of dialogue with the museum. She analyses three examples of binding a cultural landscape with a museum: a museum of city life (Rousse), an industrial museum, and a new regional museum exposition (Sliven). The museums are in buildings, cultural monuments of national or local importance that recognize various transformations over time. The interpretation of the cultural landscape in the museum allows for a rethinking of the ways of life of local communities. It also allows for the building of new perspectives for presenting the local communities and the cultural heritage which are absent from the official narrative.
Museum of Estonians Abroad, VEMU (Canada)
VEMU – Becoming a Museum. Experiences and Ideas
I have worked as the Chief Archivist at the Museum of Estonians Abroad (VEMU) in Toronto for the last eight and a half years. With the following, I would like to share the unique experience I have acquired during the development of the museum collections of Estonians abroad and the creation of a museum program introducing Estonia and Estonians to an exciting and challenging cultural community, which covers local Estonians as well as residents of a multicultural city of millions – Toronto.
The history of VEMU's collections reaches back to the beginning of the 1970s when the Tartu Institute of (?) Archives and Library was established at Tartu College, the student residence and Estonian cultural centre built and managed by Estonians. For a long time, all those who worked in the archives were volunteers – members of the Toronto Estonian community. In the mid-2000s, the architect and long-time president of Tartu College, Elmar Tampõld, had the idea to create a new institution based on the existing collections, a museum dedicated to telling the story of Estonians abroad, and to build an addition onto Tartu College for this. In addition to the volunteers, a Chief Archivist was hired from Estonia and other salaried employees have also since been hired. Today, the VEMU collections have grown to be the largest Estonian-themed archive and library collection located outside of Estonia. It is used more and more for academic research, as well as by exhibit curators and filmmakers. Our cultural program attempts to be as diverse as possible to attract different audiences among Estonians and non-Estonians. Being a member of the group of cultural institutions along one of Toronto's main streets, collectively called the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, has helped greatly in reaching beyond the Estonian community. In my presentation, I will discuss some of VEMU's unique attributes, accomplishments, challenges.
Durban’s Local History Museums (South Africa)
How Museums as Institutions of Knowledge and Power can Creatively and Effectively Share the Platform with the Contemporary Society
Museums have changed significantly as societies of the 21st century have become marked by an enthusiasm to encounter what is new or unfamiliar, and are more open to diversity, pragmatism, and collective involvement in dealing with contemporary issues. Museums are not merely institutions to enrich our sense of culture, but are viewed as educators to provide understanding, and increasingly invite society to share their historical revelations and cultural diversity, and foster social cohesion and the human creativity behind extraordinary personal viewpoints and experiences.
Museums give voice to the community in current matters pertaining to how they are governed by creating avenues for free discussions and dialogue. They create a confluence where the events of today are exhibited and discussed for the collective good of all. Through programmes and activities, museums have targeted groups like teachers, adults, youths, and women's organisations through popular forum discussions on the goals of the nation for the promotion and better understanding of its heritage, national growth and general emancipation.
Nevertheless, while many communities may be more cosmopolitan than others, they are still shaped by their past histories of interaction and movement. Therefore ‘multiculturalism’, ‘ethnic identity’ and ‘national heritage,’ which are an unavoidable conditions of society that may prompt conflict, must be fully acknowledged and understood, rather than denied. For this reason local history museums still use their ethnographic collections in promoting a better understanding of the collective heritage of the people of Durban, which has the effect of fostering the commonality of those things that unite society and its people.
South African museums are positive partners in encouraging the development of society’s progress, in fostering peace, and promoting ideals of democracy and transparency in governance as they partner in sharing knowledge and power—which, although highlighting painful and contentious histories of dispossession, have the capacity to broker, peace unity and understanding.
Azerbaijan Carpet Museum (Azerbaijan)
'Museums of Traditional Handicrafts and Contemporary Art: a Case of the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum'
In the modern world, incorporating museums into the tourism industry is becoming a gradual priority, influencing the shape of the museum’s image and placing it in cooperation with the sphere of modern communication. Nevertheless, the nature of museum work is mainly focused on cultural and educational activities and providing a satisfactory service for visitors. In the rapidly changing modern world, traditional museums have to be very attractive to large numbers of visitors and must differ in their uniqueness and eccentricity.
To get the attention of the modern public, it is necessary for museums to have unique contents, and the embodiment of such ideas will also make the museum an example of high professionalism and creativity. The ability of traditional museums to reflect modern realities in their exhibitions is one of the crucial factors of their success. In this regard, the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum regularly organizes special and personal exhibitions of modern artists and designers in the field of 'Decorative applied arts'. Such activity is intended to enable the audience to learn about artworks by both well-known and young designers in Azerbaijan and abroad.
Museum of Vojvodina (Serbia)
Curating Rituals: Challenges and Experiences in Time Perspective
The ethnological practice of creating a collection of ritual artifacts in the Museum of Vojvodina can be viewed as an example of the narrativization of material culture and as a form of symbolic relation to the past and tradition. Great social and political changes that occurred during socialism also brought changes in the festive calendar: the introduction of new, secular holidays, and a specific attitude towards the religious holidays that were no longer recognized by the authorities, but which survived in the private sphere. In such circumstances, the choices of certain ritual practices were associated with personal, family, generational, ethnic and local identifications. In the socialist period there was a significant difference between the content of the museum presentation through exhibitions and other forms of museological work (research, collecting, different forms of analysis), at least when it came to the treatment of ritual practice. This difference can be presented in the context of restructuring the perception of this segment of the traditional past due to its political importance.
The end of the socialist period was marked by re-traditionalization in all segments of the society. This process also had an expression in changing the museum's approach to ritual phenomena. Initiatives for the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage have also contributed to creating a new perspective on this type of heritage within institutions and local communities. This presentation will focus on the place of rituals as part of cultural heritage by presenting curatorial practices in different political contexts in the past, and possible creative uses of those experiences.