Bridging History with the Present
In the last session of Difficult Issues both speakers gave insight into strong content. First we heard Satu Savia from Helsinki on Post-Mortem Photography and then Merete Ipsen on Women’s Museum in Denmark. Both speakers talked about museums that tell the untold and do not hide difficult issues from their audiences.
Women’s Museum has addressed many an aspect of female life from motherhood and body issues to rape, addiction and human trafficking. Women’s Museum works in many different ways engaging the public, tackling the issues and making the stories seen and heard with active community engagement. The museum gives voice to issues that have been problematic in the past, but also in the current society.
Satu Savia’s case from Helsinki City Museum opens a viewpoint toward ‘a new museum’ that is taking place online. The Helsinki City Museum has been publishing photographs as open data on public databases. Opening collections online allows museums to share content to a much broader audience – but museums have the same responsibility online that they have in their traditional exhibition spaces – opening the doors to the diversity of being a human, even on the difficult issues.
Savia’s talk focused on post-mortem images that were published as open data. The images were taken in an era when death was not a taboo. They were taken with respect for the deceased. The way we might look at them now is from a wholly new perspective. When publishing these types of images, or any other images with difficult issues it must be done with proper context information. With the proper context online databases are a good platform for sharing our past.
Post-mortem photography – is it right for museums to decide who is remembered, forgotten or hidden?
Satu Savia, Curator, Helsinki City Museum, Helsinki, Finland / Hanna Talasmäki, Freelance Curator, Helsinki, Finland
Difficult issues around gender
Merete Ipsen, Director, Women’s Museum in Denmark, Aarhus, Denmark