Rastá rájiid. Could Indigenous viewpoints help to detect blind spots and unnecessary borders in museum?
Museum is full of borders. By drawing borders, we define museum compared to other heritage institutions. And thus, we divide museum field to smaller sectors of responsibility. We have created borders between art museums and cultural historical museums, as well as borderlines what is heritage and definitions what is art and what is not. Over time, these borders have become universal, inevitable and even crucial for our work in museums.
According to the 1986 Åre Sámi Conference declaration “sámit lea oktasaš čearda, eaige riikkaid rájit galgga rihkkut min čeardda oktavuoða (We, the Sámi, are one people and the borders of the national states shall not break our unity)”. Ever since, this declaration has been shared by every Sámi conference that has been held. By this declaration the Sámi define themselves as a people without borders, as a people who live their life despite the borders others have drawn, on top of them or even in-between the borderlines.
In this paper, I will apply this Sámi worldview to the borders, set by others, to museum context. I will demonstrate my point by presenting cases on how the Sámi understanding and knowledge can collide with the borders in museum world discarding the Sámi understanding in museum and thus further induce neglect towards the Sámi heritage. The themes I wish to present are the Sámi relationship to nature, idea of Sámi cultural landscape, Sámi holistic understanding of material and immaterial cultural heritage and the relationship between Sámi art and duodji, Sámi handicrafts.
With the help of my cases, I suggest that a gaze from Indigenous Sámi point of view can help us to recognize blind spots and unnecessary borders in museum and museum practices. The Sámi gaze can help us to understand that there are methods, practices and borderlines in museum that can have a negative impact on our work. I urge that instead of seeing limitations, we should see possibilities and instead of seeing borders as permanent obstacles, we should realize that they are imaginary and manmade. In addition, I will present how to intermediate Sámi understanding to museum context and suggest what would be a Sámi museum, museum built on Sámi worldview, values and needs.
Borderless range with 3D models?
The state's historical museums strive to be at the cutting edge when it comes to digitisation and digital services in the field of cultural heritage. In an effort to make cultural heritage more available we have, during the last six months, produced and published 3D models of the ten rooms on the first floor of the Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm.
The models of the rooms have been published on the web platform, Sketchfab, and have been enriched with text information, as well as links to other resources already available online. For example: articles on Wikipedia, high resolution image material on Wikimedia Commons and self-produced web exhibitions.
We see great potential in working across borders and combining content from different and already established platforms, but at the same time this raises a number of questions.
We must reflect on which language or languages we will use – Swedish is insufficient. Who are we targeting and who can we reach? Then the issue arises of where we choose to publish our productions. We have the potential of reaching worldwide. Do we want to? Last but not least, we must reflect on where the line between knowledge and entertainment is drawn and the manner in which this should influence our decisions and actions.
In a 15-minute presentation we would like to discuss the above issues, but to go deep into the discussion we would also like some space to present a demonstration of our work with 3D models and photogrammetry, e.g. in the form of a station that conference participants can visit during the breaks.
We are Erik Lernestål, photographer and producer of 3D models, and Sara Dixon, digital producer and responsible for digital services at the National Historical Museums in Stockholm. We have many years of experience working with digitising and digital mediation.
Keywords: 3D digitising, 3D models, the Hallwyl Museum, Platforms, Availability, Photogrammetry, Digital mediation
The Cultural Border of the East and West in the South Karelia Museum’s Collections
The South Karelia Museum preserves the cultural heritage of South Karelia and the areas of Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union, from Jaakkima to Terijoki (known as Zelenogorsk in Russian). The location of the ceded area of Karelia at the cultural border of the east and west brought the region cultural contact with and influences from the east. Also, the proximity of St. Petersburg and the changes in the border between Finland and Russia throughout history have made elements relating to Russia and the Russian culture an integral part of the everyday lives of the region’s residents. Eastern influences and life within the orbit of the St. Petersburg metropolis are also discernible in the cultural heritage preserved by the South Karelia Museum.
From the border changes of 1721 and 1743 until 1917, the entire geographical area whose history the museum preserves was strongly influenced by the St. Petersburg metropolis. In the museum’s collections, this period presents itself as one of close connections to St. Petersburg. It was an important market for Finnish food and other products. Many residents of the Karelian Isthmus also sought work and a livelihood in the city.
The period from 1917 to 1944, in turn, focused on the building of a Finnish identity in the vicinity of the border. Finns were fearful of the Soviet Union, the new state next door, and the border was reinforced by enticing domestic tourists to the border region in Terijoki. The medieval, Swedish history of Vyborg was emphasised. Elsewhere in the Karelian Isthmus, the focus was still on agriculture, which had been the region’s traditional livelihood for centuries. Instead of St. Petersburg, new markets had to be found in Finland. In the museum’s collections, the period of independence in the Karelian Isthmus appears as urbanisation, changes in livelihoods and a search for a distinct national identity.
The lost areas of Karelia and especially ceding the second largest town in Finland, Vyborg, with the Moscow Armistice in 1944 gave rise to a period of mystification and longing for Karelia, with the accompanying memories and travels of Karelian evacuees to their home district. The evacuated Karelia residents did not have time to take anything but their most important belongings along. The articles and photographs they managed to save became unique memories of their lost home. After the Winter and Continuation Wars, the cultural heritage material from the lost region increased in value. Old residents of Vyborg founded the Vyborg Museum Foundation and began fundraising for a scale model of Vyborg, today on view at the South Karelia Museum, and for a collection of articles and photographs from the city and elsewhere in the Karelian Isthmus.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of the new Russia have brought fresh points of view on the museum’s work to preserve history. The Russians have discovered the Finnish cultural heritage of the lost regions and Finns have become interested in a more open way in their neighbour and their shared cultural heritage. Where South Karelia Museum is making co-operation with many Russian museums in Karelian Isthmus, North Karelia Museum in Joensuu is making co-operation with museums of Russian Karelia.
Keywords: Finland, Russia, Karelia, Vyborg, St. Petersburg, border, evacuees, collections, museum, cultural heritage
BORDERING MUSEUM PRACTICES: Those who do ‘real museum work’, and those who don’t
Keywords: practices, professional identity, communities, recent museum history, interviews
My study deals with borders within museums and the museum profession(s), and how they are created through museum practices. Based on recorded interviews of museum professionals, I analyse two empirical concepts: museum work and museum people. As the material shows, these are not neutral terms, but are loaded with values: real museum people are those who do real museum work, such as hands-on collection work and exhibition planning. Respectively, working in the office of Built Heritage of the National Board of Antiquities, for example, might not be perceived as real museum work by all. For many museum professionals, being able to participate in the shared and valued work practices can be a cornerstone for their professional identity. Likewise, shared practices are a way of defining the other – those who do not participate in the same practices. Thus, museum practices as social practices create divisions between people in the museum field, and can build borders within the museum community.
The study is part of my on-going PhD-research, in which I study the meanings of museum practices in the recent Finnish museum history. The material consists of biographical interviews of museum professionals, produced as part of a Finnish Museum History Project in the early 2000s.
Gender boundaries? Museums as masculine or genderless places.
In Norway, a separate Women's Museum was opened in 1995. The museum, which has national status, aims to document and highlight women's lives and work in Norwegian cultural history up to the present. (In the rest of the world there are a total of 83 women's museums.) Despite more than 20 years with a dedicated women's museum, a couple of decades of active feminist criticism and a large proportion of women among the staff, the lack of representation of different gender identities and sexuality is striking at most Norwegian museums (Brenna 2018). While in 2007, a separate manual for gender integration in Sweden (Wera Gran) was introduced, Norwegian museums have left the gender boundaries remain outside of their doors. In this presentation, I will reflect on the lack of women and feminine values both here at the Tromsø Polar Museum and at museums in general.
The polar regions have historically been linked to men and masculinity. The Polar Museum exhibitions are rooted in stories about Norwegians’, explicitly men’s, exploration and exploitation of particular Arctic areas. The Museum offers opportunities to understand Tromsø and the northern Norway’s Arctic conquest, exploration and resource utilisation. Additionally, one gains insight into the polar escapades of national heroes Nansen and Amundsen. Apart from a small wall installation about a woman who survived the winter by trapping, the museum tells about the Arctic as a male universe.
Museums, says Karin Barad (2007), inspire us to interpret them, inviting us to see the exhibition as a collective phenomenon that touches us and does something to us. One of the things that happens in that case is further iteration and maintenance of the Arctic as masculine geography and sphere of activity. With a focus on how museums, through demarcation of gender boundaries, both conserve gender imbalance and create invisibility, I seek to examine the exhibits. The term “blind spot” (Clifford 2013) is a useful tool when asking what we do not catch sight of, do not get to know and do not take part in regarding women's participation in the Arctic project in these exhibitions. Can exploration of the exhibition's blind spots reveal inter-gender relations? What about the men’s world? Can we catch sight of and can be inspired to increase our insight into men’s history? Can both the small and the large stories be changed?
The Nordic museum in Stockholm: A Nordic perspective in a globalized world. Thoughts about the museum
The founder of the Nordiska museet (Nordic museum) in Stockholm, Artur Hazelius, approached the cultural history of Sweden from a Nordic perspective as seemed natural at his time. Today, almost 150 years later, a Nordic perspective is much less self-evident among people living in the Nordic countries than was the case during Hazelius’ lifetime. Yet, museum visitors from outside the Nordic countries tend to view Nordic countries from a ‘Nordic’ perspective rather than a ‘national’ one. In my key-note lecture, I will put forward arguments why a trans-national museum, such as the Nordic museum, is particularly suited to capture and understand long-term cultural historical developments, and why such trans-national perspectives are now very much needed. In dealing with the role of trans-national museums, I will make comparisons to other trans-national museums and I will give examples of some of the recent initiatives which have been taken at the Nordic museum relating to a variety of topics ranging from climate changes in the Arctic, to migration issues and changes in fashion and dress codes in Sweden.
The Role of the Museum in the Neighbourhoods
Finland’s demographics are set to change dramatically with regards to its growing number of seniors. Seniors make up a notable portion of the visitors to museums. The majority of senior visitors are 65 to 75 years old, well-off, digi-tally-minded and active individuals who look forward to taking part in the activities museum’s offer. Due to the chal-lenges created by the ageing population, efforts are made to actively develop and promote access to cultural ser-vices. For many, it may be impossible to participate in cultural events in the city centre due to mobility, and financial issues.
The museums activities in the suburbs are often sporadic due to a scarcity of resources. For many museums re-sources are nearly insufficient for creating productions within the museum’s walls. No to mention, that these dimin-ishing assets would be transferred to the suburbs along with the museum staff. Although, it would be important to maintain a presence there, where people live. The question is then, how to finance targeted customer segment ser-vices in the suburbs?
According to my own observations and experiences, services geared for the suburbs do not necessarily require large sums of money, but require more diverse cooperation and the readiness for a new kind of approach. Several of the city’s administrative bodies are working in the suburban areas, each of which have their own planning mod-els and well-established division of labour. Therefore a cross-sectoral and administrative suburban working group, which could, for example, contain one or more representatives from local museums could be a solution. With the aid of the suburban working group, it would be possible to work together, share resources and allocate financial responsibility for the work among the different actors and administrative bodies, to define responsibilities and areas of collaboration. By being in direct contact with the residents and residential actors in the suburban working group, information can be obtained, which will help to develop and connect the services to the needs of the residents. Territorial segregation could be addressed and equal distribution of culture among the population, including senior citizens, would be promoted.
Museums could reach the widest possible group of people, with the help of cross-sectoral organisation facilitating cooperation for content management, service delivery and service intermediaries, including home care and visual artists. Working cross-administratively and cross-sectorally, and cooperating with the health, social care and third sector, is one solution to the question of resources. Health services should invest more in leisure activities, bringing museum and culture professionals into the health and social care sector. This could benefit all parties involved, meeting health, social and cultural aims and functioning as a preventive, action-oriented operation.
Keywords: outreach work, co-design, co-creation, participation, entitlement, community work, participatory ap-proach, accessibility, equality, suburbs, cultural welfare, museums
Connections, Cultural Heritage and the Weight of the Past: Museums and Nature on the Eastern Border
The Finnish Eastern Border carries many meanings both politically and mentally and is in many ways difficult to cross. The cultural border on the other hand is much more flexible. Nature follows its own course, and many traditions and beliefs have common features. How do Finnish museums value, evaluate and pass on their eastern heritage, and what prejudices, obstacles – and positive aspects – they encounter?
Keywords: Cultural borders, Provincial museums, Karelia, Cultural identity, Intangible heritage, Nature, Finnish-Russian co-operation, Locality
Disciplinary borders within museology
Museology is a cross-disciplinary discipline, which has played very diverse roles in the development of different academic disciplines such as Archaeology, History, Art History etc. But how do we secure a critical and sustainable interchange between these disciplines and museology?
In her book The Disobedient Museum (2018) Kylie Message argues that Museum Studies has stagnated and forgotten to ask central questions to itself as a discipline. She provocatively suggests that university disciplines and museums have come too close to each other, have become too alike. Is it time to mark the borders between museums and museology, and other university disciplines, more clearly in order to secure a critical awareness and relevance for both?
With this panel, we discuss:
• The status and function of museology within different disciplines.
• How can/should these disciplines feed the development of Museology/Museum studies as a university discipline and programme in the 2020s?
• What should the borders and responsibilities be between museums and universities in this development?
Centre for Museology at Aarhus University invited colleagues from a large range of different disciplines to reflect upon the relationship between their research areas and museology in 2017 and the group is momentarily preparing a publication due to be published in 2019 with these contributions. A short presentation of some of the key insights developed out of this process will be given as introduction to the panel by the moderator.
Keywords: Museology, Museum studies, University disciplines, Cross-disciplinary
‘I don't think there are any borders when it comes to painting. I've always thought that. There are no frontiers. Just art.’ Even if we have no interest in art, we might agree with the cosmopolitan idealism that underpins this recent statement by British artist, David Hockney. However, Hockney’s paintings are indisputably the product of his bordered situation; of delimited geographical, historical, climatic, social, sexual, familial, architectural and educational circumstance. Implicitly and tacitly, but also explicitly, his work speaks of a differentiated world; a world of borders and transgressions, and it does so not simply in its form, style or subject matter. His posthumous legacy will also be shaped by territories, as represented by the canonical ambitions of museums and the nation-state: Hockney is now referred to by that playful and slightly ironic British category, ‘national treasure’.
Cosmopolitan idealism, of course, has ethical appeal to an empowered Western actor but its impact in other parts of the world is as a form of neo-colonialism, denying other cultural identities and forms of cultural production. While popular books of modern painting show how a Paris-centred West invented everything, the world’s art museums reveal something quite different: that art’s history has been performed, developed and written within nation-states. That hasn’t stopped artists, art historians and museums in those countries believing in the truth of the West’s limited internationalism and embracing its hegemonic and homogenising ideology. Cultural imperialism is performed through ideas. It easily crosses borders.
However, a counter position that sees the nation as delimiting our understanding of cultural production has, of course, its own dangers which any European can understand: nationalism’s warm, affirmative sense of home breeds racial, ethnic, territorial and religious intolerance and conflict. To human beings perpetually in search of meaning and purpose, affirmative ideologies are seductive. They permit and encourage identity and border formation. Museums have often legitimised themselves as sites of identity formation but I would argue that their role is to demystify the human condition and the political myths and ideologies that limit our potential, breed irrationalism and undermine our creative potential. Our relationship to borders needs to be informed: a privileging of a situated sense of place is critical to encouraging and respecting diverse cultural production without nationalism. Borders need to be imagined and maintained as porous and transitional, permitting both the flow of ideas, respect for other cultures and on-going cultural diplomacy.
Culture, nature and art – the development and demise of professional borders within the Danish museum field from the 1950s until today.
In 1975, the National Oversight for Local Museums in Denmark defined museum work as consisting of collection, preservation and mediation. They further stated that while collecting and preservation to some degree was dependent on both the academic discipline and the topic of the individual museums, mediation was the common denominator for museum work in both cultural, natural and art museums. Furthermore, in 1976 a Museum Act including all three branches of the museum field was passed – indicating the existence of a joint museum field. Nevertheless, over the years the art museums have repeatedly argued for a separate art museum law and the present debate in Denmark about the future organization of the museum field, have also raised the question of further collaboration between different types of museums, attesting to ongoing challenges in the collaboration across academic and professional borders within the museum field.
In this paper, I analyze and discuss the development of such professional and academic borders within the Danish museum field since the 1950s. Based on a number of interviews with influential museum professionals from both cultural, natural and art museums as well as on legislation, job ads, archives from the museum associations and debates within and about the museum field, I map and discuss differences in the perception and prioritization of key terms such as collection, research, mission and mediation. Focusing specifically on the latter, I ask how cultural, natural and art museums have distinguished themselves and have been distinguished by tradition, legislation and organizational borders, and how differences in perceptions can account for changes in the power balance between the museum branches over time. Finally, I discuss whether the borders between the museum branches have now been abolished with the introduction of new technologies, user participation and the requirement for current, relevant and sustainable museums.
Keywords: Museum types, Organizational borders, Development, Museum history
Kven Connection and Rømmekolle Revival: two art projects on heritage, boundaries and minorities
Varanger Museum, dept. Vadsø Museum - The Ruija Kvenmuseum has had two projects attempting to revitalise aspects of Kven culture through art. Kvener are a national minority group who came to Norway from Finland and Northern Sweden, mainly in the 1700s and 1800s.
“Rømmekolle Revival" was carried out together with artist Eva Bakkeslett in autumn, 2015. The concept was developed in a collaboration between Pikene på broen (the Girls on the Bridge) and Bakkeslett in connection with the Barents Spektakel festival in spring, 2015. The museum's project was a continuation of this arrangement. The project shows that if you want to revive an old tradition, you can find new ways to present the cultural heritage or present it in modern contexts. For minority cultures that have been subjected to assimilation this may be necessary.
The second project is Kven Connection, which began in January 2016 as a collaborative project between Varanger Museum, Vadsø Art Association and TAIKE Rovaniemi (Art Promotion Centre in Lapland). Through an open call, ten artists from Finland and Norway were chosen to participate in the project. The theme of the project was language, borders and migration. Kven's culture has often been presented as old-fashioned and on the verge of dying out. In reality, the Kven people live in a modern society. The project therefore had as its primary goal to initiate the production of new works of art on and/or with the national minority.
The Kven population still suffers today in the aftermath of the assimilation policy, which led to the loss of the mother tongue and cultural awareness. Postcolonial theories find that the oppressed consciousness is most often negative. This is a typical phase in the development of minorities' history. Through the projects, the Kvenmuseum has tried to raise the consciousness of the Kven minority from the negative to something positive by creating social situations and new experiences.
In the presentation we want to discuss the museum's role in relation to minority cultures. Around the turn of the century, the perception of cultural heritage in museums began to change, mainly due to indigenous and minority issues, recent cultural theories and postcolonial criticism. We discuss how to use art as a culture revitalisation tool. We ask questions about how to highlight something that is a marginalised group's cultural heritage without establishing new exclusionary practices or boundaries between peoples. The study is located in the multicultural community in Vadsø, where Kven culture is central.
Keywords: art, heritage, borders, minorities
Telling new (hi)stories in museums
The museum law and ethical statements of ICOM highlight the mission of museums in conveying reliable, unbiased, research-based information. Yet museums are ideological actors that have social impact, and they use this power most visibly through their exhibitions. In recent decades, new types of museum exhibition narratives have emerged and sometimes blur boundaries between historical facts and fiction in favour of visitor engagement. In some cases, textual narrative goes beyond basic visitor information and takes emphasized roles, thus becoming a vital part of contents and meanings of exhibitions. But what are the risks and possibilities of bringing a higher level of storytelling and fiction into museum exhibitions? Are museums risking their institutional role in their current search for new audiences? Where to draw the line between telling fascinating stories and communicating research-based information?
The questions of mediation and museum ethics are topical as museums are constantly pursuing a more democratic, participatory dialogue that would be inspiring for visitors. Microhistory, personal stories, but also artistic or literary interventions can be considered in relation with the growing interest of bringing multiple voices into museums. These can serve as a reminder that both history writing and museum work are full of decisions, choices and omissions. Whose histories do we want to tell and hear?
The presentation draws links to my on-going doctoral research in the University of Helsinki about fictional museum narratives as interpretive strategies in mediating the collections and missions of museums, and my master’s thesis about the use of fictional storytelling in Finnish museums. I argue that museum exhibitions have unique narrative potential because they provide a fully embodied multimedia experience with authentic objects.
Keywords: museum exhibitions, museums narratives, storytelling, mediation, fiction, audience engagement, museum texts
The Conservator – a borderless border guard?
With my presentation I would like to describe how different borders, consciously drawn or unconsciously established, create obstructions and/or define the current museum work. I will also reflect on the resolution or the infringement of these borders, situations where this happens and what the consequences would be in such cases. As a starting point, I present one of the museum professions, the conservator.
Conservation is today a scientific academic discipline within the field of culture care which freely emphasises its multidisciplinary character.
The conservator is often at the intersection between different phenomena: between the natural sciences and the human sciences, between the concepts of natural(ly) and cultural(ly), between body/mind and thought/language, between front stage and back stage at the museum, etc. If the conservator is studied, it becomes possible to highlight these points of intersection, how the different phenomena relate to each other and what happens when they meet. This positioning makes the conservator an interesting starting point also for deeper studies of the museum as phenomenon, its meaning and practitioners.
In ICOM's widely accepted museum definition from 2005 (known as the Declaration of Calgary) the museum is described as a permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. It is a definition that the museum industry (e.g. The Association of Swedish Museums) also readily takes note of.
More rarely, the museum is described on the basis of the professions (and the individuals) active there with their changing incentives. Which scientific perspective, approach, which skills and approach to knowledge are expressed at the museum and used, implicitly or explicitly?
No study of what training, which scientific starting points and views on knowledge that the staff at the museum (in Sweden today) base their work on, consciously and unconsciously, as far as is known, has been done. And therefore no study of how these cooperate and/or collide in the work on and for the museum has been done either.
For my thesis work in museology, I have interviewed and observed conservators who are active within different fields and in different organisations. I also account for my own experience as a professional conservator (master in culture care) and exhibition produce in my empirical material.
Keywords: museology, conservation, conservator, profession, multidisciplinary, practical knowledge
Public, audiences or visitors? Interdisciplinary look on people in and around museums.
How do we distinguish between different groups of people in and around museums? What kind of disciplinary differences allow us to shed light of different people? And is this differentiation fruitful? This presentation will look into the different paradigms of discussions when it comes to looking at the people in the museum. The traditional understanding of visitors’ places them often with a certain distance – like good guests in our house, they are welcome, but are expected to leave after certain time without leaving too many traces behind. At the same time, the paradigm shift in audience studies (Livingstone, 2013) towards more participatory audiences together with the need to reevaluate museums’ role in society brings us to looking for new words in relation to people in museums. This presentation will discuss the ideas and usefulness of audience studies tools and vocabulary in relation to museums.
In this presentation, I will discuss people in museum from five different types of relationships where each approach looks at more engaged role in the museum. The articulation of these relations strives to avoid normativity and rather sees these different levels as repertoires potentially always present in different forms.
Based on various disciplines, different approaches to the people will allow us to look at the following concepts: 1. The concept of public, which emphasizes the civic role and place of the museum. 2. The concept of audiences in plural sense from media studies to discuss the level of changed engagement to the issues related to the museums. 3. The concept of visitors directly familiar from the museum studies with its limitations and possibilities. 4. The concept of users, borrowed and expanded from the digital communication, but also highlighting the active role of the people in taking heritage to an active engagement level. 5. The concept of co-creators, inspired by participatory design research.
The presentation aims to highlight the differences in the paradigmatic approaches whether people are looked at potential public, audiences, visitors, users or co-creators as these words and labels play a role in institutional treatment and create borders between what is allowed and what not. At the same time, the discussion proposes some ideas as to how to move between the different concepts so that the repertoires of the museums could be enhanced from the discursive diversity.
Keywords: audiences, visitors, disciplinary borders, theoretical discussion, Discursive distinction
Research vs exhibitions? Challenges of producing permanent exhibitions as academic collaboration: the case of the Estonian National Museum
At 2016 the new building of the Estonian National Museum was opened to the public. The new facilities gained attention in the architectural and design world as well as among the general audience. From the organisational point of view, opening the new building was a milestone, rather than a destination point of the transformation processes.
While the renewal of museums accross Eastern Europe has helped to recognise them as increasingly important part of leisure industry and economic sector at large, many museums continue to be research-driven institutions, tools to approach contemporary complex societies, meeting points of different knowledge production regimes and forms of expertise represented by museum, academic institutions and industries. It is up to the museums to solve the question of balancing different activities, functions and participants.
This paper presents a case study of producing the permanent exhibitions for the new museum building of the Estonian National Museum, which was carried out in a close collaboration of museum and researchers from different Estonian universities. We explore, in which ways museum exhibitions and academic research was connected, whether curatorship was perceieved as a part of research work or just a way of communicating research results to the general audience, what kind of collaborations appeared and what kind of barriers had to be crossed to achieve the expected results.
The academia is increasingly expected to communicate their work to the general public, but often the main approaches are limited to traditional public lecturing or writing popular articles. In contrast to that, museums offer a unique potential as laboratories for extending the ways to carrying out and communicating one’s research. But is crossing the familiar disciplinary borders of one’s academic disciplines safe, or can the message be lost in translation?
Keywords: permanent exhibition, research collaboration, disciplinary boundaries
Turku Castle, history before the border
The Turku Castle, and especially the western end, is familiar to everyone in Finland and is perhaps the country's most important cultural and historical landmark. At the same time it is also an important place in Swedish history and for a very long time one of the most important places in the entire kingdom. As a public worker, you often encounter surprised Swedish visitors who notice that the castle's history is quite familiar to them as an old history lesson from school. For Finnish visitors, the history can also feel foreign, because it is the shared history that is presented. During the castle's history over 700-years, it has for the longest period of time been Swedish.
Despite the fact that most of the visitors, both from Finland and abroad, in fact know the Swedish and Finnish shared history; the current national borders and different conceptions are firmly remembered. The castle represents the crown and the power and may, therefore, give a rather narrow picture of history. Concepts such as "Ruotsin vallan aika" and "Sweden-Finland" often emphasise many conceptions and stereotypes, and the picture of the Swedes as bullies and oppressors. It is sometimes difficult to get visitors to forget the current national borders for a moment and not think of Finland in relation to Sweden.
In my presentation I would like to highlight how the current national borders affect how visitors to Turku Castle see and perceive the history. Which parts of the castle's history do we highlight and in which way? How do we tell the castle's history before the border?
Keywords: History, Turku Castle, medieval, national border
Border between historical collections and co-creation of futures in museums
Cultural change is unavoidable. Museums collect pieces of changed tangible and intangible traditions in their collections. These pieces of cultural heritage build our understanding of ourselves, our identities and our culture as well as changes in all of these. The aim of our presentation is to investigate if it is possible also to build understanding of different alternative futures as a part of activities in museums. Alternative futures has always a connection to past and current identities and culture. However, futures are not usually a part of museum collections or activities.
Our questions are: what could be the possibilities of museums to co-create alternative futures on the base of traditions and cultural heritage in cooperation with neighbouring communities of museums and museum visitors? Is it possible to choose some value based futures in this kind of co-creative process, as example sustainable futures?
The research material consists of material co-created in futures workshops organized together with partners in different Finnish museums. As a result we will have new conceptual insights to heritage futures, materialized in the combination of tangible and intangible museum collections, heritage and ideas about alternative futures. With this concept we will describe the possibilities of a conceptual and practical change in heritage processes. Our results will provide also new knowledge for transformative sustainability processes in everyday life in different communities and the potential role of museums in these processes.
Key words: heritage futures, transformation, everyday culture, sustainability, futures workshop, museum
"The global in the local, between region and nation" – Mannaminne, a world of art- and culture created by Anders Åberg, Nordingrå, Västernorrland
Museums, whether they want or not, are phenomena that are highly dependent on the places where they exist; the social, political and ideological context. In addition, there is usually a scientific or other knowledge context. A museum constitutes a demarcated territory within a larger territory. Microcosm in a macrocosm. But a museum always goes beyond its own limits. It's like a spider in a web: it weaves different kinds of systems around itself, near and far. So what's actually a museum, what are the boundaries of the phenomenon? It always needs to be defined, and redefined, drawn up, which creates an ever-debated museological problem.
My presentation will focus on a place in a Nordic region that is per definition without borders; a place of places, which is a museum but yet it is not. It is a cultural center, a gesamtkunstwerk, the center of the world and the heart of the region. It is more a vision of the world than a museum. The site is called Mannaminne, located on a rocky hillside slope in Nordingrå, northern Sweden, created by the recently passed away artist Anders Åberg and his wife Barbro.
The guiding star of Anders Åberg was to link man's life, work and activities in the past with the present. "The purpose of Mannaminne is to show how everything is connected. The culture depends on the history, the technology and the influences from near and far," Anders said.
The outside world exists in all of us, also in the local community. Here, the connections between local work, craft, technology and building culture are made visible with the same in other countries. The perspective has always been international, to show that the local and the national / international belong together. Everything belongs together.
Borders between exhibition paradigms: traditional ideas or current trends?
There are many ways to answer the challenges posed by recent political, social, technological and cultural changes in a museum exhibition. In my presentation, I am going analyse recent museum exhibitions using concepts that on the other hand have been used to describe contemporary society in Europe and North America and on the other hand which I believe to be relevant to Finnish museums in particular.
I will analyse, whether the exhibitions are popular or populist: intended for wide audiences and making complicated scholarly subjects understandable or pandering to the masses and oversimplifying their substance. I will seek to determine, whether they are factual or postfactual (emotional): using emotions to reach the visitor and connect her/him to the facts or using emotions either instead of the factual substance or even in order to conceal it.
As the coordinator of the Finnish Network for Artefact Studies, I am worried how objects are losing their self-evident position in a museum exhibition. That trend is connected to the decline of concrete artefact studies during the representational paradigm of the 1990s, as those university disciplines which educated museum professionals shifted their focus from objects to immaterial phenomena.
I am also trying to define how ‘political’ and ‘cultural’ are present and presented in exhibitions. I have earlier (Historiallinen Aikakauskirja 3/2016) argued that as we call Finnish historical museums ‘cultural-history museums’ it might distort their self-image in relation to political history.
My presentation will shed new light to the interconnectedness of recent changes in society and culture and the ways a museum exhibition responds to them. Should we lower the bar, if the population is becoming less educated and even less knowledgeable – as reported recently in Finland? Can a museum exhibition still demand something from the visitor or is it simply a form of entertainment?
keywords: exhibitions popular/populist factual/postfactual artefactual/phenomenal political/cultural
Museum reform and museum professions
My proposal for a fifteen-minute presentation is based on my dissertation. My PhD project briefly discusses what the Norwegian museum reform from the start of the 21st century has had to say about the way museums handle the past. The dissertation’s thesis on the one hand points toward the (intended) professional strengthening of the sector and the significance it has had for what I have reasonably called “past management”, and on the other hand how it influences relations among the various museum professionals.
It is the last context, i.e., relations among various museum professionals, that I want to address in my presentation at the conference. Has the museum reform led to a change in the perception of which professions are "museum professions"? Here it is the particular status of the history profession that I am concerned with, and seen in light of the extent to which the view of historians has changed. Or maybe it is first and foremost the view of history that has been changing?
I will try to illuminate this fairly broad theme by following central museum policy documents before and during the museum reform, in order to see how museum profession was understood, but also what approach to the past one emphasised. Furthermore, more recent research work will be used as the basis for my reflections on both the historical view and view of historians in wake of the museum reform.
The conference's main theme, borders, is here understood as professional and disciplinary boundaries. It may be seen as paradoxical that while there has been strong growth in the number of museum employees with a master's degree or higher, there is also a growing tendency to note the distance between the museum profession and professional development in degree-conferring institutions.
A Lappish ring in the Design Museum. On the Liminality of Museum Objects
In the collection of the Design Museum Helsinki (former Museum of Applied Arts, founded in 1873) there is a silver ring from Lapland, dating from the 19th century. By type, it is a "Lappish ring" ("Lapinsormus") which is the popular name for a silver ring with small hanging loops – in Finland (re)produced still today by Kalevala Jewelry company, after original museum pieces. Similar rings were used during a long period of time by various Sàmi culture groups in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The ring in question was donated to the collection in conjunction with the First Industrial Arts Exhibition in Helsinki in 1881, by count Carl Robert Mannerheim (1835–1914). The Society of Crafts and Design – owner of the museum collection – consisted of members of the Swedish-speaking cultural elite and the early collection represents their material culture. In this case, the ring illustrates a fashionable "touristic approach" to collecting Sàmi objects in the 19th century and exoticism in preserving material culture of the "other", the indigenous people of the North.
In the 21st century, the "Lappish ring" is an anomaly in the Design Museum collection, disconnected and strange especially in relation to the contemporary idea of – the iconic – Finnish design. This is an "original" Sàmi object. We do not know (yet) who made the ring and where, nor do we know of the designer.
However, in a museum even design objects are not only specimens of serial production but also authentic objects with individual histories. We argue that the "Lappish ring" is a valuable "relic" of previous collection policies and because of these processes, also a relevant object of Finnish design history.
The history of this ring exemplifies the liminality of museum objects: objects move from one category to other, their status is not singular but changes constantly in the "rites" of collecting. We can observe how the status of the "Lappish ring" has been defined by many generations of museum professionals. On the threshold of change even today we ask, how does the topical ethnopolitical debate around ownership of Sámi heritage participate in this process.
Behind language borders
A quote from the home page of Nordic Co-operation: "Much of the Nordic Region is bound together by languages so closely related that, with little effort, most people understand each other. This linguistic community is often called the Nordic neighbouring language understanding."
The significant words are "much of". All the Nordic languages are not related at all (Finnish) or the relationship is very remote (Icelandic, Faroese).
For the most part, people can only express themselves perfectly in their mother tongue. Other languages are learned and when we speak them we are more or less intellectually disabled. The official Finnish languages are Finnish and Swedish, but the Swedish speaking Finns are a minority or 290,000 (5.27%), when the whole population is 5.5 million. Compulsory education was founded in 1921, but teaching in public schools in the domestic language was only possible first in 1964 (a maximum of 4 hours a week). Finnish speakers were naturally taught Swedish in school. The Nordic Museums Association was founded in 1915 but operations only began with museums from Norway, Sweden and Denmark because of the world war. Finland was invited in 1923 and Finland's department was founded in 1925.
The Finnish speakers' fragile ability to speak Swedish led to the Swedish speaking Finland Swedes having to bear the responsibility in the Scandinavian relations, and the Finnish speakers were excluded. For example, in the Museological Magazine, The Journal of Nordic Museology (NM), which was founded in 1993, you can publish in English and the Nordic languages, with the exception of Icelandic (and Faroese) and Finnish. The editors that have an editor from each Nordic country also spoke their own mother tongue except the Icelandic and Finnish. After the changing of the editor in 2009 the language was changed to English so that nobody spoke their mother tongue. Otherwise fair, but now no one expresses themselves completely.
The articles published in NM make things clear: the Finns’ and the Icelanders’ articles are clearly fewer. As the Finns’ ability to read Danish and Norwegian was relatively small, the magazine's Finnish subscriptions were reduced, which is also reflected in the willingness to publish their articles in NM. It is quite evident that even the Sami people cannot use their mother tongue, not to mention the new minorities.
The languages in this Congress are Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and English, but not Finnish, Icelandic or Faroese. Fortunately not only English! As English is now science's international language, and until translation programs become distinctly better in the future, it is possible to double publish both in your mother tongue and in English, especially when publishing humanist articles on the internet.
Keywords: mother tongue, language border, North Germanic language, Finnish-Hungarian language, English
On the borderless border – one museum, two countries
The Museum of Torne Valley is the only cross-border museum in the world. It is a part of Tornio's administration, but since 2014 has also had a museum board which consists of Finnish Tornio and Swedish Haparanda policy-makers. In addition, Haparanda participates in the funding for museum activities by paying the museum educator's salary costs. In Finland, the Museum of Torne Valley – Tornionlaakson maakuntamuseo is one of the province's museums and has the border's phenomenon as special area of expertise.
The Torne Valley is historically a coherent cultural and dialectic area, which nowadays is partly in Sweden and partly in Finland. It would be unfair to speak of heritage and history only on the one side or on the other side, and it is therefore natural to have a cross-border museum. The area has a common history and collaboration over the border and still characterises the area and the people's lives.
The Torne Valley was part of the landscape of Sweden and Västerbotten until 1809 and was divided between Sweden and Russia alongside Tornio and Muonio rivers as a result of the Finnish war. Before that the river united people. For example, building style, food culture, the traditional way of life and the spiritual or religious heritage (among other things, laestadianismen) are the same on both sides of the border. The entire Torne Valley was a Finnish-speaking area; the language border ran to the west of the Torne Valley.
The border is quite young, but the nationalisation project in both countries in the 19th century divided the area. The lift in Nordic cooperation in general, in the 1960s and forward, meant increased cooperation in the Torne Valley and in TornioHaparanda. Some examples of this are a shared language school (1989), which is a bilingual elementary school, a travel centre (2014), as well as the plans to build urban centres together at the border.
In the Torne Valley it is natural to use two currencies, two time zones and three languages - Finnish, Swedish and Meänkieli. Meänkieli was originally a Finnish dialect spoken by the Finnish speakers on the Swedish side of the Torne Valley after the demarcation of the border, nowadays it is an officially minority language in Sweden.
Even if the Tornedalers are accustomed to using the border and the neighbouring proximity, their knowledge of the shared history is somewhat inadequate, especially among the younger or migrant people. One of the museum's purposes is to increase the people's knowledge of their own history and roots, give the intellectual tools to build their own identity and at the same time to understand the other side better.
The cross-border museum operations pose certain challenges. You need to be aware of both of the countries' heartbeats and be up to date in both countries and take into account the differences in the school system and the culture. Material culture is used for the museum collections which tell of the border phenomenon, but otherwise they do not actively collect objects from the Swedish side. In order to achieve good results in these issues, dialogue and cooperation with different networks across the border is important.
Keywords: cross-border museum, Torne Valley, border life, Meänkieli, border trade, Nordic cooperation