Presumption to Responsibility. Museums and contested history. Saying the unspeakable in museums
Since once selected, items included in museum collections themselves suggest they are account of our ability to objectively document our history. Exhibitions or numerous publications show if and how we are able to interpret events the particular society does not necessarily take pride in, or would preferably erase it from its history, including physical artefacts.
Among the most popular exhibitions held in museums are those that chart accounts about the times a visitor could either experience alone or through the members of their family (parents or grandparents) therefore arousing personal feelings. What is the ability of museums to show live / experienced history like?
The issue seems to be even more than burning since it is just the 20th century that is our experienced past, those old days that have been one of the most complicated and tragic periods in the human history so far, when events would take interpretative turns under the baton of totalitarian regimes for decades. In addition to artefacts from World War 1 and World War 2 also the ones relating to migration (exile) or political regimes in Eastern Europe in the second half of the century are becoming objects of musealisation.
The forthcoming conference is expected to focus on interpretative attitudes of today’s museum professionals to those periods of history that are broadly perceived negatively or “rather negatively” or controversially by the public for whatever reason.
Museum objects themselves are extremely merciless. They are what they are; not a thousand words help us change their heart of matter. Unless we destroy them, they will present a solid base we can build our society on and raise its quality. A financial crisis can change our lives over the night, a political situation can change faster than we are able to admit, the cultural heritage, however, remains unchanged; we may rely on its stability in any crisis we might be faced with.
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