Collecting and Displaying the Hidden Contemporary
Collecting and telling outside the comfort zone
Diana Chafik, Curator and Project Manager, Sörmlands Museum, Nyköping, Sweden / Peter Ostritsch, Head of Collections, Sörmlands Museum, Nyköping, Sweden
Smörland’s museum’s vision is “to widen views and to inspire commitment.” The people are the focus of the Sörmland’s museum. The museum does not only collect objects, but different stories from mundane life to political conflicts. To collect narratives requires the trust of the informants.
Diana talked about her project: displacement, migration and exile. In the project over 90 interviews were made with migrants. Diana addressed interesting questions on collecting refugee items. How do you collect object and stories from people who have lost everything? How do we create Swedishness, Finnishness or Norwegianness? To collect is to define. Do we let people to be defined by the objects or are we creating the narration of objects with them?
Collecting the Troubles and Beyond: the role of the Ulster Museum in interpreting contested history
Karen Logan, Project Curator, National Museums Northern Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The role of Karen’s museum is to encourage dialogue on the conflict in Northern Ireland. There has been a wish to re-establish the museum as a dynamic space of dialogue with the audience and the protagonists of the conflict. Ulster Museum is now collecting personal stories.
The museum’s task is to build understanding, not solve the problems. For this the dialogue between the museum and the audience is central. Context and meaning is built with the audience. Although people have a shared history, they do not have shared memories. The different interpretations and the different ways to remember the past is truly a difficult issue.
At home with people with severe mental illness
Ellen Lange, Curator, National Medical Museum/Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, Oslo, Norway
In creating an exhibition about mental illness, it is important to avoid stereotypes. Collecting and displaying are the two most important tasks of museums, but ‘how,’ ‘what,’ and ‘why’ are the important questions.
The collecting process of mental illness exhibition took half a year. 10 informants opened their homes and shared their stories. In process two curators and a photographer visited all protagonists. As curators talked with the protagonist, the photographer took photos. Not of the people themselves, but of their homes.
How do pictures of empty homes represent mental illness? Is it too easy to interpret the pictures as defining how mentally ill people live, or do people understand that in any type of home there can be mental illness?
Moderator: Katherine Hauptman, Chair ICOM Sweden