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.

Museums and live ethnographic displays of Sámi: Scenes from a troubled relationship?

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, live ethnographic displays of Sámi were not unusual on museum exhibition grounds. Such displays, or inhabited Sámi camps, featured for example at exhibitions at Tromsø Museum in 1870 and 1894, and at Sverresborg open-air museum in Trondheim in the 1930s. Important in that regard is of course also Skansen in Stockholm where a Sámi camp formed part of the exhibitions since its inauguration in 1891. Yet, with the exception of Skansen these camps have never been thoroughly investigated.

In this paper, I will explore the relationship between museums, primarily Norwegian museums, and Sámi camps in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and compare my finds to the situation at Skansen. To which extent has this relationship been perceived as problematical and if so why and at what expense? Moreover, to which extent were the museums used by the Sámi themselves in this period as an arena for the dissemination of culture, and how do Sámi camps at museums tie into the development of Sámi tourism?

Keywords: Museums, Sami, live ethnographic displays, collaboration, late 19th and early 20th centuries, Norway, tourism

Teaching programs for children with special needs

Den Gamle By has brought inclusion of children and young people with mental disabilities into focus. Our aim is to be a museum for all. In the area of teaching, we strive to make the museum accessible for those who cannot follow our regular teaching programs. We have therefore since 2011 developed a range of new museum teaching programs in cooperation with special schools, institutions and experts. Our aim is to combine specialized teaching methods with our existing museum teaching policies of letting visitors experience history through the senses, work, role play and interactivity. The museum’s unique, tangible and stimulating environment is also of great advantage to this project.

The result is a range of new methods of teaching that gives children with special needs understanding and knowledge of life in the past centuries. Den Gamle By can now offer a choice of 12 special courses adaptable to the disabilities and age of the pupils.

Preparation is essential for a successful visit, and teachers will receive a study kit from the museum. When coming to Den Gamle By, the pupils take part in a chronological story line. Through role play, work, cooking, dialogue and interaction with their museum teacher and actors in Living History, the pupils themselves contribute actively to the progress of the story line - and thus become part of life in our marked town of 1864 or 1927.

The teachers’ enthusiastic evaluations reveal that during these special courses both the pupils’ memory and power of concentration are improved. While many pupils can only concentrate for about 15 minutes in a class room, they can easily concentrate for up to 2 hours during the sessions at the museum. During role play and in a period costume, some visitors even forget their weaknesses and limitations and they suddenly do things and (inter-)act in ways that their relatives and teachers had never thought impossible.
Moreover, pupils with even a very low level of abstraction can now learn and experience in ways that maybe only a museum can offer them.

Keywords: teaching, disabilities, children, role play, interactivity, living history

Gränslös räckvidd med 3D-modeller? 

Statens historiska museer strävar efter att ligga i framkant när det kommer till digitalisering och digital förmedling inom kulturarvssektorn. Som ett led i att göra kulturarvet mer tillgängligt så har vi under det senaste halvåret producerat och publicerat 3D-modeller av de tio rum som utgör paradvåningen på Hallwylska museet i Stockholm.  
Modellerna av rummen har publicerats på webbplattformen Sketchfab och har där berikats med textinformation samt länkar till andra resurser som redan finns tillgängliga online. Exempelvis artiklar på Wikipedia, högupplöst bildmaterial på Wikimedia Commons och egenproducerade webbutställningar. 
Vi ser en stor potential i att arbeta gränsöverskridande och kombinera innehåll från olika och redan etablerade plattformar men det väcker samtidigt en del frågor.  
Vi måste fundera på vilket eller vilka språk vi använder – svenska räcker inte. Vilka riktar vi oss till och vilka kan vi nå? Direkt kommer också frågan om var vi väljer att publicera våra produktioner. Potentiellt kan vi nå hela världen. Vill vi det? Sist, men inte minst, måste vi fundera på var gränsen går mellan kunskap och underhållning och på vilket sätt detta bör inverka på våra beslut och handlingar.  
I en 15-minuters presentation vill vi resonera om ovanstående frågor, men för att ge djup till resonemanget önskar vi oss också utrymme för en demonstration av vårt arbete med 3D-modeller och fotogrammetri, t ex i form av en station som konferensdeltagarna kan besöka i pauserna.  
Vi är Erik Lernestål, fotograf och producent av 3D-modeller och Sara Dixon, digital producent och ansvarig för digital förmedling vid Statens historiska museer i Stockholm. Vi har mångårig erfarenhet av att arbeta med digitalisering och digital förmedling. 

Keywords: 3D-digitalisering, 3D-modeller, Hallwylska museet, Plattformar, Tillgänglighet, Fotogrammetri, Digital förmedling

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

My study deals with borders within museums, created through museum work practices. For many museum professionals, being able to participate in certain practices, such as hands-on collection work or exhibition planning, can be a corner stone for their professional identity. Likewise, shared practices are a way of defining the other – those who do not participate in the same practices. Thus, practices create borders between different communities in the museum field. Practices related to museum work are also linked to producing a museum and reflect different ideas of a museum.

In my presentation, I would like to discuss how this division-by-practices functions. Is it unavoidable, and is it even a bad thing?

The study is part of my on-going PhD-research, in which is 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 early 2000’s. The presentation suggested here would be in the form of a PowerPoint.


Grenser for kjønn?    Museer som maskuline eller kjønnsløse steder.

I Norge ble et eget Kvinnemuseet åpnet  i 1995. Museet, som har nasjonal status, har som mål å dokumentere og synliggjøre kvinners liv og virke i norsk kulturhistorie fram til i dag. (I verden for øvrig finnes i alt 83 kvinnemuseer.) Til tross for mer enn 20 år med eget kvinnemuseum, et par tre tiår med aktiv feministisk kritikk og en stor kvinneandel blant de ansatte er mangelen på representasjon av ulike kjønnsidentiteter og seksualitet påfallende ved norske museer flest (Brenna 2018). Mens man allerede i 2007 fikk en egen handbok i genusintegrering i Sverige (Wera Gran), har norske museer latt grensen for kjønn gått utenfor sine dører. I dette innlegget vil jeg ta utgangspunkt i Polarmuseet i Tromsøs utstillinger og reflektere rundt mangelen på kvinner og på feminine verdier både her og i museer generelt.

De polare områder har historisk vært knyttet til menn og maskulinitet. Polarmuseets utstillinger er forankret i historier om nordmenns, eksplisitt menns,  utforskning og utnytting av særlig arktiske områder.   Museet tilbyr muligheter til å forstå Tromsø og den nordlige landsdelens erobring, utforskning og ressursutnytting av arktis. I tillegg får man tilgang til innsikt i de nasjonale helters;  Nansen og Amundsen, polare ekspader.  Bortsett fra en liten veggutstilling om en kvinne som overvintret på fangst, forteller museet om Arktis som et mannlig univers.

Museer, slik Karin Barad (2007) inspirerer oss til å tolke dem, inviterer oss til å se utstillingen som samskapende fenomen som berører oss og gjør noe med oss. En av de tingen som skjer i dette tilfelle er ytterligere repitisjon og vedlikehold av arktis som maskulin geografi og virkeområde. Med fokus på hvordan museer gjennom kjønnet grensedragning både konserverer kjønnet ubalanse og skaper usynlighet søker jeg å utforske utstillingene.   Begrepet blindsone (Clifford 2013)  er et nyttig verktøy når man spør hva vi  ikke får øye på, ikke får vite og ikke får del i  om kvinners deltakelse i det arktiske prosjekt i disse utstillingene. Kan utforsking av utstillingenes blindsoner avdekke relasjoner mellom kjønn? Hva med menns verden? Kan det hende vi får øye på og kan bli inspirert til å øke vår innsikt også om menns  historie?  Kan både de små og store fortellingene bli endret?    

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 og rømmekolle revival: to kunstprosjekter om kulturarv, grenser og minoriteter

Varanger museum, avd. Vadsø museum - Ruija kvenmuseum har hatt to prosjekter der man har prøvd å revitalisere deler av kvenkultur gjennom kunst. Kvener er en nasjonal minoritetsgruppe i Norge som kom til landet fra Finland og Nord-Sverige hovedsakelig på 1700- og 1800-tallet.

«Rømmekolle revival» ble gjennomført sammen med kunstneren Eva Bakkeslett høsten 2015. Konseptet ble utviklet i samarbeid mellom Pikene på broen og Bakkeslett i forbindelse med Barents Spektakel-festivalen våren 2015. Museets prosjekt var en videreføring av dette opplegget. Prosjektet viser at der man ønsker å gjenopplive en gammel tradisjon, kan man finne nye måter å presentere kulturarven på eller presentere den i moderne sammenhenger. For minoritetskulturer som er blitt utsatt for assimilering kan dette være nødvendig.

Det andre prosjektet er Kven Connection som begynte i januar 2016 som samarbeidsprosjekt mellom Varanger museum, Vadsø kunstforening og TAIKE (Art Promotion Centre in Lapland), Rovaniemi. Gjennom en åpen utlysning ble ti kunstnere fra Finland og Norge valgt ut til å delta i prosjektet. Prosjektets temaer var språk, grenser og migrasjon. Kvenkultur er ofte blitt framstilt på som gammeldags og randen til å dø ut. I virkeligheten lever kvenene i et moderne samfunn. Prosjektet hadde derfor som fremste mål å initiere produksjon av nye kunstverk om og/eller med den nasjonale minoriteten.

Den kvenske befolkningen lider enda i dag under ettervirkningen av assimileringspolitikken som førte til tap av morsmål og kulturbevissthet. Postkoloniale teorier fastslår at den undertrykte bevisstheten oftest er negativ. Dette er en typisk fase i utviklingen av minoritetenes historie. Gjennom prosjektene har kvenmuseet prøvd å øke den kvenske minoritetens bevissthet fra det negative til noe positive ved å skape sosiale situasjoner og nye opplevelser.

I presentasjonen ønsker vi å diskutere museets rolle i forhold til minoritetskulturer. Rundt årtusenskiftet 2000 begynte oppfatningen av kulturarv i museene å forandre seg hovedsakelig på grunn av urfolks- og minoritetsspørsmål, nyere kulturteorier og postkolonial kritikk. Vi diskuterer hvordan man kan bruke kunst som kulturrevitaliseringsverktøy. Vi stiller spørsmål om hvordan man kan løfte fram noe som er en marginalisert gruppes kulturarv uten å etablere nye ekskluderende praksiser eller grenser mellom folkegrupper. Studiet er plassert i det flerkulturelle samfunnet i Vadsø der den kvenske kulturen står sentralt.

Keywords: kunst, kulturarv, grenser, minoriteter

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

Konservatorn – en gränslös gränsvakt?

Med min presentation vill jag beskriva hur olika gränser, medvetet upprättade eller omedvetet etablerade, skapar hinder i och/eller definierar museiarbetet idag. Jag kommer även att reflektera kring upplösningen eller överträdelsen av dessa gränser, situationer då så sker och vilka konsekvenser det i så fall får. Som utgångspunkt tar jag en av museets professioner, konservatorn.
Konservering är idag en naturvetenskaplig akademisk disciplin inom ämnet kulturvård som gärna framhåller sin tvärvetenskapliga karaktär.
Konservatorn befinner sig inte sällan i skärningspunkten mellan olika fenomen: mellan naturvetenskap och humanvetenskap, mellan begreppen natur(ligt) och kultur(ellt), mellan kropp/sinne och tanke/språk, mellan front stage och back stage på museet o s v. Studeras konservatorn blir det därför möjligt att belysa dessa skärningspunkter, hur de olika fenomenen förhåller sig till varandra och vad som händer när de möts. Denna positionering gör konservatorn till en intressant utgångspunkt för djupare studier också av museet som fenomen, dess innebörd och praktiker.
I ICOM:s brett vedertagna museidefinition från 2005 (känd som the Declaration of Calgary) beskrivs museet som en institution i samhällets tjänst som utforskar kulturarven genom att beforska, bevara och på olika sätt kommunicera dessa. Det är en definition som museibranschen (t ex intresseorganisationen Sveriges Museer) också gärna tar fasta på.
Mer sällan beskrivs museet utifrån de professioner (och de individer) med sina skiftande incitament som är verksamma där. Vilka vetenskapliga perspektiv, förhållningssätt, vilka kunskaper och kunskapssyn tar sig uttryck på museet och använder, implicit eller explicit, museet som plattform?
Någon undersökning av vilka utbildningar, vilka vetenskapliga utgångspunkter och syn på kunskap de anställda på museet (i Sverige idag) grundar sitt arbete i, medvetet och omedvetet, har veterligen inte gjorts. Och därför inte heller hur dessa samverkar och/eller kolliderar i arbetet på och för museet.
För mitt avhandlingsarbete i museologi har jag intervjuat och observerat konservatorer, verksamma inom skilda fält och i olika organisationer. Till mitt empiriska material räknar jag även min egen erfarenhet som yrkesverksam konservator (master i kulturvård) och utställningsproducent.

Keywords: museologi, konservering, konservator, profession, tvärvetenskap, praktisk kunskap

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

Åbo slot, historia före gränsen

Åbo slott, och framförallt dess västra gavel, är bekant för alla i Finland och landets kanske viktigaste kulturhistoriska minnesmärke. Samtidigt är det också ett viktigt ställe i Sveriges historia, under långa tider ett av de viktigaste ställena i hela riket. Som publikarbetare stöter man ofta på förvånade svenska besökare som märker att slottets historia är helt bekant för dem, som en gammal historielektion från skoltiden. För finska besökare kan också historien kännas främmande, eftersom det är den gemensamma historien som presenteras. Under slottets dryga 700-åriga historia har den längsta tiden varit svensk.
Trots att de flesta besökare, både från Finland och utlandet egentligen känner till Sveriges och Finlands gemensamma historia sitter ändå dagens nationsgränser och olika föreställningar hårt kvar i huvudet. Slottet representerar kronan och makten och ger kanske därför en ganska snäv bild av historien. Begrepp som "Ruotsin vallan aika" och "Sverige-Finland" understryker ofta många föreställningar och stereotypier och bilden av svenskarna som översittare och förtryckare. Det är ibland svårt att få besökarna att för en stund glömma de nuvarande nationsgränserna och inte tänka på Finland i förhållande till Sverige.
I min presentation vill jag lyfta fram hur dagens nationsgränser påverkar hur besökarna på Åbo slott ser på och uppfattar historien. Vilka delar av slottets historia lyfter vi fram och på vilket sätt? Hur berättar vi slottets historia före gränsen?

Keywords: Historia, Åbo slott, medeltid, nationsgräns

Futures museum

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


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

Museumsreforma og museumsprofesjonane

Mitt forslag til femten minuttars innlegg tek utgangspunkt i mitt avhandlingsarbeid. Mitt phd-prosjekt går i kort trekk ut på å drøfte kva den norske museumsreforma frå byrjinga av 2000-talet har hatt å seie for måten musea handterer fortida på. I avhandlinga er tematikken på den eine sida spissa inn mot den (tiltenkte) faglege styrkinga av sektoren og kva betydning det har hatt for det eg i brei forstand har kalla fortidshandtering, og, på den andre sida korleis den har påverka tilhøvet mellom dei ulike museumsprofesjonane.

Det er det siste, altså tilhøvet mellom ulike museumsprofesjonar, eg vil ta opp i mitt innlegg på konferansen. Har museumsreforma ført til ei endring i oppfatninga av kva fag som er «museumsfag»? Her er det særskilt historiefaget sin status eg er oppteken av, og då sett i høve til kor vidt synet på historikarar har endra seg. Eller er det kanskje først og fremst historiesynet som har vore i endring?

Denne, nokså vide tematikken, vil bli søkt belyst gjennom å følgje sentrale museumspolitiske dokument før og under museumsreforma, for der å sjå på korleis museumsfag vert forstått, men òg kva tilnærming til fortida ein vektlegg. Vidare vil nokre nyare forskingsarbeid brukt som utgangspunkt for mine refleksjonar om både historiesyn og syn på historikarar i kjølvatnet av museumsreforma.
Konferansen sitt hovudtema, grenser, vert her forstått som profesjons- og faggrenser. Det kan sjåast på som eit paradoks at samstundes som ein har hatt ein kraftig vekst i talet på museumstilsette med mastergrad eller meir, er det òg ein veksande tendens til å markere avstand mellom museumsprofesjonen og den faglege utviklinga i dei gradsgjevande institusjonane.

Sámi material culture – Challenging the borders of collecting

The exhibition 'The North – Finnish Design and Lapland' (2 June 2017– 28 Jan 2018) basing on the collection of the Design Museum Helsinki, asked what kind of relationship does Finnish design have with "the North" – with Lapland and Sámi culture. The rugged natural conditions of Lapland and the local heritage of crafts have inspired Finnish designers. Lappish motifs, imagery of the nature and the people have been used in design products and in marketing design. In the Design Museum collection there are very few examples of "authentic" Sámi design, however. Questions of cultural appropriation and colonialism surfaced in our project and we discussed the borderline between "touristic" and "authentic" design objects and the role of design museums in collecting craft heritage.

The (politically) correct way of representing Sámi culture is subject to a heated political debate in the Nordic countries. For example, the use of Sámi costumes in art works or in popular culture, has been condemned publicly by the Sámi activists in Finland. The ownership of historical Sàmi collections is topic to current debates and in Finland, the National Museum donated a big collection to the National Museum of the Finnish Sámi – Siida. Challenges are met also regarding museum categories and definitions of national collection policies. Duodji, Sámi craftsmanship, is essentially in the borderlines of art, crafts and design.

We want to open the topic to a wider audience and address our Nordic colleagues. For the Nordic museum association conference 2018, we want to invite a panel of museum professionals to discuss the challenges of collecting objects and artworks that deal with the Sámi culture. We have made tentative enquires from representatives of two Finnish museums. The panel will include 4-5 invited speakers.

Keywords: Sámi, Lapland, collecting, duoddji, cultural appropriation, colonialism, tourism, collection policy

Bakom språkgränser

Ett citat från hemsidan Nordiskt samarbete: ”I en stor del av Norden talas språk som är så nära besläktade att ett flertal av nordborna med liten ansträngning kan förstå varandra. Den här språkliga gemenskapen är det som ofta kallas nordisk grannspråksförståelse.”

De betydande orden är ”I en stor del”. Alla Nordens språk är inte als besläktade (finska) eller släktskapet är mycket avlägset (isländska, färöiska).

Människor kan uttrycka sig huvudsakligen perfekt endast på sitt modersmål. Andra språk är lärda och när man talar dem är man mer eller mindre mentalt funktionshindrad. Finlands officiella språk är finska och svenska, men de svensktalande finländarna är en minoritet eller 290 000 (5,27 %), när hela befolkningen är 5,5 miljoner. Obligatorisk utbildning grundades 1921, men i folkskolan blev undervisningen på det andra inhemska språket möjligt först 1964 (högst 4 timmar i veckan). I läroverken lärde finsktalande naturligt sig svenska. Skandinaviskt museiförbund grundades 1915 men verksamheten började på grund av världskriget endast med museer från Norge, Sverige och Danmark. Finland blev inbjuden 1923 och Finlands avdelning grundades 1925.

De finsk talandes bräckliga förmåga tala svenska ledde till det att de svensktalande finlandssvenskarna fick bära ansvaret i skandinaviska förbindelser och de finskspråkiga blev utestängda. Till exempel i den museologiska tidskriften Nordisk Museologi (NM), som grundades 1993, kan man publicera på engelska och de nordiska språken utom isländska (och färöiska) och finska. Också redaktionen som har en redaktör från varje nordiskt land, talade sina egna modersmål utom isländska och finska. Efter redaktörbyten 2009 flyttade man över till engelska så att ingen talade sitt modersmål. Å andra sidan rättvist, men nu uttrycker ingen eller få sig fullkomligt.

Artiklarna som publiceras i NM angiver saken klart: finländarnas och islänningarnas artiklar är tydligt färre. Då finländarnas kunskap att läsa danska och norska var tämligen liten, blev tidskriftens finska prenumerationer färre, vilket också speglades i villigheten att publicera sina artiklar i NM. Det är uppenbart att även samer inte heller kan använda sina modersmål, inte att tala om de nya minoriteterna.

Språken i denna kongress är också danska, norska, svenska och engelska, men inte finska, isländska eller färöiska. Lyckligtvis inte enbart engelska! Då engelska ändå är nu vetenskapens internationella språk och före översättningsprogram blir tydligen bättre i framtiden är en möjlighet, speciellt när man publicerar humanistiska artiklar i internet, att man dubbelpublicerar båda på sitt modersmål och på engelska.

Keywords: modersmål, språkgräns, nordgermaniska språk, finskugriska språk, engelska

På den gränslösa gränsen – två länders gemensamma museum / On the borderless border - one museum, two countries  

Tornedalens museum är det enda gränsöverskridande museet i världen. Det ingår i Torneå stads förvaltning men har även fr.o.m. 2014 haft en museibestyrelse som består av finska Torneås och svenska Haparandas politiska beslutsfattare. Därtill deltar Haparanda stad finansiering av museiverksamheten genom att betala museipedagogens lönekostnader. I Finland är Tornedalens museum – Tornionlaakson maakuntamuseo ett av landskapsmuseerna och har gränsens fenomen som specialkunskapsområde.

Tornedalen är historiskt ett sammanhängande kultur- och dialektområde, som nuförtiden ligger delvis i Sverige och delvis i Finland. Det skulle vara tillgjort att tala om kulturarv och historia bara på den ena eller på den andra sidan, och därför är det naturligt att ha ett gränsöverskridande museum. Området har en gemensam historia och samröret over gränsen präglar fortfarande området och människornas liv.

Tornedalen hörde fram till 1809 till Sverige och Västebottens landskap och delades mellan Sverige och Ryssland längs med Torneå och Muonio älvar som en följd av Finska kriget. Före det förenade älven människor. Till exempel byggnadsstilen, matkulturen, det traditionella levnadssättet och det andliga eller religiösa arvet (b.a. laestadianismen) är likadana på båda sidor om gränsen. Hela Tornedalen var finskspråkigt område, språkgränsen löpte väster om Tornedalen.

Gränsen är ganska ung, men nationaliseringsprojektet i båda länderna på 1800-talet och framåt har splittrat området. Lyftet i nordiskt samarbete i allmänhet på 1960-talet och framåt betydde ökat samarbete även i Tornedalen och i TorneåHaparanda. Några exempel på detta är en gemensam språkskola (1989), som är en tvåspråkig grundskola, resecentrum (2014), samt planerna att bygga städernas centrer ihop vid gränsen.

I Tornedalen är det naturligt att använda två valuta, två tidszoner och tre språken – finska, svenska och meänkieli. Meänkieli var ursprungligen en finsk dialekt som talades av de finskspråkiga som blev på den svenska sidan av Tornedalen efter gränsdragningen, nufortiden är det ett officielt minoritetspråk i Sverige.

Även om tornedalingarna är vana vid att utnyttja gränsen och grannlandets närhet så är deras kännedom av den gemensamma historian delvis bristfällig, speciellt bland de yngre eller inflyttade människorna. Ett av museets ändamål är att öka människornas kännedom av deras egen historia och rötter, ge mentala redskap för att bygga den egna identiteten och att samtidigt förstå de andra bättre.

Den gränsöverskridande museiverksamheten ställer vissa utmaningar. Man måste känna båda ländernas hjärtslag och vara aktuell i båda länderna, och ta hänsyn till skillnaderna i skolsystemet och kulturen. Till museisamlingarna tas materiell kultur som berättar om gränsen fenomena, men annars samlar man inte aktivt föremål från den svenska sidan. För att nå bra resultat i dessa frågor är dialog och samarbete med olika närverk över gränsen viktigt.

Keywords: gränsöverskridande museum, Tornedalen, gränsliv, meänkieli, gränshandel, nordiskt samarbete