Collecting and telling outside the comfort zone
How can museums – regulated and influenced by public discourse, politics and their own history – find ways of defining and handling difficult issues?
In our presentation we argue that both defining difficult issues and the ways of handling those can be approached by a museum´s clearly formulated, open-minded vision. Initially, we will present the vision and mission statement of Sörmlands museum and how these are debated and developed internally. Secondly, taking the vision as starting point, we will introduce some of the “difficult” social topics, sub-topics and objects the museum decided to discuss, collect, present and preserve.
We want to showcase different “difficult” topics that we are working on, such as a documentation about refugees and migration. Some other examples are life stories and conditions of people with impairments and a documentation of life-stories and collected objects from homeless EU-migrants.
All these documentations and stories are new at the museum in different ways and in some aspects they have never been told or collected before. This has led to new ways and work ethics in handling difficult topics. Besides presenting suggestions how to tackle difficult issues, we will also name “unsolved” issues. We will raise questions like “what happens if the museum never works outside its comfort zone?” that can be discussed together.
Finally, returning to the museum´s vision, we will argue for a mindset that focuses more on individual´s narratives than on objects themselves.
Peter Ostritsch, born in Budapest, studied Social and Cultural Anthropology in Tübingen. He has been working as a curator at several German museums, among others the city-museum of Stuttgart and the Landesmuseum Württemberg. Since 2016 he is Head of Collections at Sörmlands museum in Nyköping, Sweden.
peter.ostritsch [at] dll.se
Diana Chafik has a master’s degree in Ethnology. She leads a project about migration at Sörmlands museum and diversity has always been of interest. The last years she has been developing education programs for museum workers, like accessibility and integration of disability in the collections.
diana.chafik [at] dll.se