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Evoluon 2 (crop 1)

Evoluon, Eindhoven, 1968

Evoluon, Eindhoven, 1968

Science and technology exhibition, Evoluon, Eindhoven, 1968
UoB Design Archives

Evoluon 2 (crop 1)
Britain Can Make It 1 (crop 1)

Mural in the Furnished Room, Britain Can Make It, V&A, London, 1946
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Britain Can Make It 1 (crop 1)
Taiwan 1 (crop 1)

Sketch of exhibition layout,
National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan, 1986-88
UoB Design Archives

Taiwan 1 (crop 1)
Britain Can Make It 2 (crop 1)

Tea Bar, Britain Can Make It, V&A, London, 1946
UoB Design Archives

Britain Can Make It 2 (crop 1)
Taiwan 2 (crop 1)

Interior view,
National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan, 1986-88
UoB Design Archives

Taiwan 2 (crop 1)
Exhibition 1

Construction of exhibition space,
Britain Can Make It, V&A, London, 1946
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Exhibition 1
Taiwan 3 (crop 1)

Interior view,
National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan, 1986-88
UoB Design Archives

Taiwan 3 (crop 1)
B&BwFord

President Ford, Robert Staples, and Barbara Fahs Charles
with model of the "Levitating White House," for the Ford Museum, 1980
Staples & Charles

B&BwFord
Francisco 2 059

Sketch of Australia section,
Commonwealth Institute, London, c. 1961
UoB Design Archives

Francisco 2 059
Festival of Britain 2 (crop 1)

Fashions Hall, Britain Can Make It, V&A, London, 1946
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Festival of Britain 2 (crop 1)
Evoluon 1 (crop 1)

Gallery view of The Senster,
Evoluon, Eindhoven, 1968
UoB Design Archives

Evoluon 1 (crop 1)
PhotographyandtheCityinstallSI19681

Installation view, Photography and the City,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 1968
Staples & Charles

PhotographyandtheCityinstallSI19681
Evoluon 3 (crop 1)

General view
Evoluon, Eindhoven, 1968
UoB Design Archives

Evoluon 3 (crop 1)
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Exhibiting museum history within museum spaces

 

Mark Liebenrood
 Mark Liebenrood
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

Hi Anna,

I very much enjoyed your paper. How museums record and present their own histories is a growing topic of interest to me, so I was wondering if you've come across many other examples of museums that display their history - whether in the quite full ways you've discussed here, or in other, perhaps less prominent modes?

Thanks,

Mark


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Anna Tulliach
 Anna Tulliach
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
 

Hello Mark,

Many thanks for your question. I've come across many other examples. I've focused my attention especially to Italy, since I'm based there. A very interesting example is the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia in Rome, which has dedicated an entire section to its history (differently from the Egyptian Museum in Turin, the section is not introductory, but in the middle of the visitors' path). A different example is the Ara Pacis Museum (Rome), which tells its history (along with the history of the Ara Pacis itself - the two are strongly connected of course) with a very informative video, which visitors can decide to look at both at the beginning or at the end of their visit. I'd like now to dig more into the ways in which more prominent and bigger museums (e.g., the Louvre, the British Museum, the V&A, the MET, the Prado) deal with this topic. I still haven't got the chance to research into this area. Nevertheless, at the MET they've recently organised an exhibit on its history ('Making the MET 1870-2020'), which could be a good starting point for this second part of my research. Have you got any example of your own?

Thanks,

Anna


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Elena Montanari
 Elena Montanari
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 3
 

Dear Anna Tulliach, thank you very much for your interesting insight on a topic I am very interested in; I am looking forward to read/hear about the further steps of your research. As to the Louvre, I haven't visited it but I heard about the "Collecting the world" gallery on the ground floor, dedicated to some of the people and facts that contributed to shape the history of the Institution.

To respond also to Mark Liebenrood, I had the possibility to read about the experimentations that various ethnographic museums around Europe have carried out in the last years, as a result of the massive "renovation wave" they are going through in their path towards the setting up of new post-colonial models. Many among the major institutions have realized significant changes (in their programmes, curatorial practices, displays as well as spaces, to radically modify their approach to the exhibition of "other" cultures), and they are making such remarkable and multi-layered revision visible also through the insertion of new displays or galleries dedicated to the critical presentation of their history. These displays are meant to enable the museum to perform a critique of its own origins, to illustrate the self-reflexive work the institution is developing, and to make visitors aware of this sensitive heritage. The group of institutions that have been experimenting with them includes the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (where, within the 2009 major renovation, the new section “Colonial theatre” was added within the permanent exhibition, directly illustrating the “stories of seven life-size mannequins” from the colonial period to show the link between colonial history and museum collections, by creating “one place in the museum where the history of collecting as such would be told”), the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren (which in 2013 started an overall four-year renovation project, conceived through the close cooperation with contemporary African diasporas and aimed, and including the set up of an exhibition space focused on a meta-historical analysis and the performance of the critical genealogy of the institution), the Weltmuseum in Wien (previously known as Museum für Völkerkunde, it reopened in 2017 after a renovation project addressing the colonial legacy of the museum, also through the addition of a new section in the permanent exposition, “Shadows of Colonialism”, which explicitly questions the museum’s own history and the stereotypes in other cultures’ representations that were created in ethnographic exhibitions).

 


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Mark Liebenrood
 Mark Liebenrood
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

@annatulliach Hi Anna, Those are interesting examples, especially where the history is placed in the middle rather than at the beginning.

It's something I've only just started to look at more carefully, but in my experience museums in the UK do not make their own histories quite as prominent as the ones you have described. A guidebook might describe the museum's history, but it is less often on display to visitors. One exception that I noticed a couple of years ago is in the museum in Kendal, north west England. Display boards on the stairs to the upper floor give a very full and illustrated account of the museum's history from its beginnings in the 19th century.

Of course the British Museum made the news last week when it displayed part of its history more explicitly by placing a bust of Hans Sloane in a display case with explanatory material about Sloane's links to the slave trade - but I don't think the museum has a display dedicated to the museum's history.


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Mark Liebenrood
 Mark Liebenrood
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

@montanarielena Thanks for these examples. It sounds like many of the museums you mention have been much more actively engaged in self-reflection on the legacies of colonialism than museums in the UK have been so far. There are exceptions in the UK, and the conversation about those issues is becoming more prominent, but there is a long way to go. The example of the British Museum I just mentioned to Anna certainly stirred up some controversy. There's plenty of potential for UK museums to do more to publicly reflect on their histories in displays, I think. Not just about colonialism, important as that is, but in general.


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