Museum Narratives for the Twenty-first Century
Call for papers: Museum Narratives for the Twenty-first Century
Institut national d’histoire de l’art,
Paris, 5 december 2012
What new paradigms are being established and whose voices can be heard in the stories being told by museums at the beginning of the twenty-first century? In the last decade, new museum-types have flourished, establishing ‘migration’, ‘world cultures’, ’transnational’ and ‘memory’ as key words, whilst developing a discourse that abounds in references to diversity and dialogue. The museum is no longer an “attic full of facts”, to adopt Lucien Febvre’s expression, or the presentation of what Pierre Nora famously termed as the ‘roman national’ that is a “history that can be seen with the eyes” (Jules Michelet), but rather it has become a clinic for acts of memory (Marie-Claire Lavabre) and first and foremost those memories that are felt as most traumatic, related to issues under public discussion – post-colonial, post cold-war and post-national etc.
These are by their very nature contested and may be considered from a wide range of perspectives. The museum however provides an authoritative voice that speaks for the state or other official organisation. This greatly reinforces its capacity to establish a narrative that can be felt by the visitor to be representative of the collective, in as much as it is anonymous. Opening up the museum to narratives that are inclusive of multicultural communities and contested or traumatic pasts remains difficult. Contributions should focus on strategies related to the plurality of the museum’s voice or discourse.
This one-day event follows on from a series of conferences devoted to the notion of great narratives in national museums across Europe, from the nineteenth century up until today, and the representation of contested histories. The focus here will be on new museums and displays of the last two decades, in order to examine a new generation of establishments more set on provoking memory than on providing a kind of unified narrative.
Please send abstracts in French or English of no more than 300 words to Felicity Bodenstein, email@example.com by the 25th of October 2012. Presentations may be given in either language.