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Exhibiting Europe in Museums

Exhibiting Europe in Museums: Transnational Networks, Collections, Narratives, and Representations

Wolfram Kaiser
Stefan Krankenhagen
Kerstin Poehls
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Exhibiting Europe in Museums
    Book Description:

    Museums of history and contemporary culture face many challenges in the modern age. One is how to react to processes of Europeanization and globalization, which require more cross-border cooperation and different ways of telling stories for visitors. This book investigates how museums exhibit Europe. Based on research in nearly 100 museums across the Continent and interviews with cultural policy makers and museum curators, it studies the growing transnational activities of state institutions, societal organizations, and people in the museum field such as attempts to Europeanize collection policy and collections as well as different strategies for making narratives more transnational like telling stories of European integration as shared history and discussing both inward and outward migration as a common experience and challenge. The book thus provides fascinating insights into a fast-changing museum landscape in Europe with wider implications for cultural policy and museums in other world regions.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-291-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction. Exhibiting Europe? Europeanisation as Cultural Practice
    (pp. 1-14)

    Europe is a cacophony. In 1987 John Cage’sEuroperapremiered at the Frankfurt Opera House. For this piece the American composer used both familiar and unfamiliar parts of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century operas: ‘For 200 years the Europeans have sent us their operas. Now I am returning them all to them’ (Beyst 2005). Indeed,Europeraconsists of ‘ready-made-music’. Not one phrase was composed by Cage himself. Instead, the different arias were put together by a randomiser, and so robbed of any formal or substantial coherence. Cage aimed to eliminate any context that would makeEuroperaa coherent work.

    For the listener...

  6. Chapter 1 Musealising Europe: Compensation, Negotiation and the Conquest of the Future
    (pp. 15-32)

    Odo Marquard (2001: 50) has noted that it was ‘shortly after 1750 that the modern concept of progress and the first museums’ were formed. Like Hermann Lübbe (1989), Marquard understands the development of the idea of the museum to be a compensatory history. The turn to the old, that is, to the observation of past times, materials and practices, is a form of compensation for the loss of a lifeworld overwhelmed by industrialisation, economisation and the progressive acceleration of life. According to Lübbe (1989: 25), the museum is, ‘to begin with, a means of salvaging cultural remnants from processes of...

  7. Chapter 2 Governing Europe: State Institutions and European Cultural and Museum Policy
    (pp. 33-51)

    Given another chance to start afresh with integration, he would begin with culture. This remark is often attributed to Jean Monnet, the first president of the ECSC High Authority, whenever the issue of culture in the social, economic and political integration of the EU arises (Wistricht 1989: 79). But there is no convincing evidence that Monnet actually said this, and moreover, the idea that a cultural community should form the core of a future European federation runs entirely contrary to Monnet’s functionalist perspective on integration. Monnet’s perspective originated intellectually in interwar Europe (Kaiser and Schot 2014), was theoretically developed after...

  8. Chapter 3 Networking Europe: Societal Actors in the Europeanisation of the Museum Field
    (pp. 52-76)

    Like the construction of monuments, the foundation of national museums during the nineteenth century often followed from the initiative of private patrons, nationally minded associations or groups of citizens (Pomian 2007). Today, on the other hand, construction and maintenance of historical museums is usually considered a state responsibility. Private patrons are more likely to found art museums in anticipation of gaining a greater degree of public recognition (Kessen 2004). Large Businesses generally focus their attention on museums devoted to the history of technology and the sciences, when they or not sponsoring art exhibitions. Without the support of state institutions, major...

  9. Chapter 4 Collecting Europe Strategies and Challenges in Transnational Collection Practice
    (pp. 77-112)

    Does Europe want to assemble collections, or itself be a collection? A response to this question should start with Boris Groys’sLogik der Sammlung(1997), which describes the differing subjectivities of collector and collected as they figure in the representation of history within and through the museum. The jacket Lieutenant Henry Anderson wore at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 is the same as, yet quite distinct from, the jacket that London’s National Army Museum acquired, conserved and recorded, and today displays. The inclusion of a thing in a museum lends that thing a new level of cultural meaning: it...

  10. Figures
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter 5 Narrating Europe: The Story and Stories of European Integration
    (pp. 113-153)

    The use of art in museums can help smooth out the conflict in a difficult history, as the preceding chapter has shown. By placing particular works of art at the entrance toC’est notre histoire!, the curators of the Brussels exhibition separated the integration of (Western) Europe since 1945 — the subject of the exhibition — from a prehistory riven by conflict (Tempora 2007). The exhibition catalogue presented the end of the war as a ‘Year Zero’, and integration as a completely fresh start: ‘For the first time in the history of Europe, the culture of war has given way to a...

  12. Chapter 6 Crossing Europe: Migration and Mobility in Museal Spaces
    (pp. 154-183)

    The Schengen European Museum, located in the Luxembourg town of that name, has set itself the task of presenting the background to the Schengen Agreement and its significance for Europe. The museum seeks to illuminate both the unwelcome consequences of the abolition of frontier controls within the EU and its practical, everyday effects. The curator decided first of all to get museum visitors to focus on the power of frontiers by drawing attention to the external boundaries of the EU (Interview Jungblut). In this way she created an intense contrast to the narration of the disappearance of internal European frontiers,...

  13. Conclusion. Exhibiting Europe: The Practice of Europeanisation in Museums
    (pp. 184-196)

    Museums are an elementary part of European memory cultures. Their collections, exhibited objects and narratives develop public images of Europe’s history, its present and its future. Claus Leggewie has pointed out that they contribute in this way to a European memory that is both shared and divided (Leggewie 2011: 7). This European memory, he argues, is countered by four distinct ideal types of collective memory in postwar European nations: exclusion, inclusion, contestation and reticence. Leggewie sees in Europe a battlefield of memory cultures in which the simplified roles of victim and perpetrator persist. In this view, only a genuine European...

  14. Appendix 1. Interviews
    (pp. 197-199)
  15. Appendix 2. Museums and Exhibitions
    (pp. 200-202)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 203-206)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-230)
  18. Index
    (pp. 231-238)