«Editors Dominique Poulot, Felicity Bodenstein & José María Lanzarote Guiral EuNaMus Report No. 4 Copyright The publishers will keep this ...»
Great Narratives of the Past
Traditions and Revisions in National Museums
Conference proceedings from EuNaMus, European National Museums:
Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen,
Paris 29 June – 1 July & 25-26 November 2011
Dominique Poulot, Felicity Bodenstein & José María Lanzarote Guiral (eds)
EuNaMus Report No 4
Great Narratives of the Past
Traditions and Revisions in
Conference Proceedings from EuNaMus, European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen, Paris 28 June – 1 July & 25–26 November 2011 Editors Dominique Poulot, Felicity Bodenstein & José María Lanzarote Guiral EuNaMus Report No. 4 Copyright The publishers will keep this document online on the Internet – or its possible replacement – from the date of publication barring exceptional circumstances.
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Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings, No. 78 Linköping University Electronic Press Linköping, Sweden, 2012 ISSN: 1650-3686 eISSN: 1650-3740 URL: http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_home/index.en.aspx?issue=078 © The Authors, 2012 This report has been published thanks to the support of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research - Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities theme (contract nr 244305 – Project European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen). The information and views set out in this report are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union.
Cover design: Tove Maria Andersson.
Table of Contents Preface. Uses of the Past: Historical Narratives and the Museum Dominique Poulot
Introduction Felicity Bodenstein & Dominique Poulot
Constructing Narratives in the Museum: Authors and Locations
The authored museum:
Alternative paradigms for the Historical Museum. Lenoir's Monuments Français and Du Sommerard's Cluny Stephen Bann
Nordiska Museet and Skansen: Displays of Floating Nationalities Magdalena Hillström
The National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography “Luigi Pigorini” in Rome: the Nation on Display Maria Gabriella Lerario
Uses and Exploitation of History. Official History, Propaganda and Mythmaking in Bulgarian Museums Gabriella Petkova-Campbell
The importance of place:
Intimating History: (re)-furnishing Versailles for Louis-Philippe’s Musée d’histoire de France (1834-1837) Sylvain Cordier
National Museums as Memorial Places. The Goethehaus Weimar and the Foundation of National Museums in 19th-century Germany Constanze Breuer & Paul Kahl
The New Acropolis and the Dynamics of National Museum Development in Greece Christina Ntaflou
Traditions of National Identity Construction
Great Narratives or Isolated Statements. History in the Dutch National Museums (1800-1940) Ellinoor Bergvelt
A Nationalist Palimpsest: Authoring the History of the Greek Nation through Alternative Museum Narratives Despina Catapoti
From Royal to National: the Changing Face of the National Museum of Scotland Amy Clarke
Freedom Loving Northerners: Norwegian Independency as Narrated in Three National Museums Lill Eilertson
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. The Cultural Memory of a Nation without National Borders Frank Matthias Kammel
The Museum of National Antiquities and its National Agenda: an Overview of the 1900-1970 Period Richard Pettersson
Narrating the “New” History: Museums in the Construction of the Turkish Republic Melania Savino
Colonialism and ethnographic narratives:
The City of the Colonial Museums. The Forgotten Case of the Mostra d’Oltremare of Naples Giovanni Arena
Museology and Ethnography in Italy: an Historical Perspective Maria Anna Bertolino
Rediscovering the Americas: the Making of Latin American Archaeological Collections in Spanish National Museums José María Lanzarote Guiral
Tradition and Ethnographic Display: Defining the National Specificity at the National Art Museum in Romania (1906-1937) Iulia Pohrib
Ethnoscripts and Nationographies: Imagining Nations within Ethnographic Museums in South Central and Eastern Europe Nikolai Vukov
Intersecting Authorities, Territories and Narratives
The regional and the national:
Local Religious Art Exhibitions, between Heritage and Evangelization: the Case of Las Edades del Hombre Nathalie Cerezales
Representation and Regionalism. Moderna Museet and the Construction of a Narrative of Swedish Women Artists Martin Sundberg
The national and the universal:
Universal Culture and National Identity: the Configuration of National Museums in Nineteenth-century Hungary Gabor Ébli
Inverting the Nation at the British Museum Tiffany Jenkins
A National Historical Narrative in Universal Context: the Historical Mural Cycle of the Hungarian National Museum Miklos Szekely
Musealizing Napoleon (1837-2011): from Traditional Representations to a Dualistic European Master Narrative Felicity Bodenstein
Historical Narratives of the Nation and the Internationalization of Museums:
Exhibiting National Art Histories in the Jeu de Paume Museum between the Wars Michela Passini
Maritime Master Narratives in European National Museums Andy Sawyer
Social Uses of Memory, Contemporary and Critical Revisions
Revising traditional narratives or contemporary traditions:
Narrating a (New) Nation? Temporary Exhibitions at the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm, Sweden between 1990 and 2009 Johan Hegardt
Greek Modernism: a National Scenario. Experiences and Ideological Trajectories Annie Malama
Four narrative perspectives on Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum (2009) Pascale Meyer
Museums and History in Contemporary France Dominique Poulot
Museums and the Origins of Nations Sheila Watson
Reconciling the past?:
Master Narratives of Contemporary History in Eastern European National Museums Peter Apor
One Common Past, Two Distinct Narratives: Commemorative Displays in National Museums in Ireland and Northern Ireland in the 1990s Thomas Cauvin
Narratives and the post-colonial era:
Conventional Ethnographic Display or Subversive Aesthetics? Historical Narratives of the Sami National Museum in Norway Sigrid Lien & Hilde Nielssen
An Unattainable Consensus? National Museums and Great Narratives in Frenchspeaking Africa Alexandra Loumpet-Galitzine
Eunamus – the project
Great Narratives of the Past. Traditions and Revisions in National Museums Conference proceedings from EuNaMus, European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen, Paris 29 June – 1 July & 25-26 November 2011. Dominique Poulot, Felicity Bodenstein & José María Lanzarote
Guiral (eds) EuNaMus Report No 4. Published by Linköping University Electronic Press:
http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_home/index.en.aspx?issue=078 © The Author.
For the historian, the museum represents both a resource and a place where his work may be presented. As a visitor, the historian is also an expert of the institution’s performance, capable of judging it in relation to his own field of knowledge, related to the nature of the collections and the museographical project that guides their display. The museum can also be a place that inspires, reactivates, or even induces historical work, suggesting new topics or points of view.
The writings of historians bear witness to the stimulating effect of the museum, such as Jules Michelet’s by now classic account of his visit to the Musée des monuments français created by Alexandre Lenoir (but also to the galleries of the natural history museum), or Arnold Toynbee’s reaction to the display of civilisations in the British Museum. The visit to the museum is an essential experience in the birth and development of historical imagination.
The historian may be a specialist of all or part of a museum’s collection, whether on display or stored in its reserves. He establishes a direct relationship with the objects, contributing to their understanding. In this case, the historian is part of the museum’s team, and must adapt his work to the needs of its management, in particular in terms of communication and public policy, whilst adhering and imposing the ethical standards of his own profession, its erudite specificity and methods of scientific interpretation. The historian becomes part of the sphere of “public history” and dedicates a more or less important part of his activity to guaranteeing a balance in the mediation of his research for the interests of scholarly communication with the development of civic values and the public success of the establishment that he works for or with.
However, in relation to the museum the historian more often than not plays the part of the independent scholar who, if needs be, may express his opinion of the institution in critical terms, appreciating and questioning the interpretations that nourish the exhibitions that it dedicates to events, personalities, objects, sometimes dealing with memorial, political, cultural or social issues.
In this case, the historian sees the museum as he might see any other media, such as cinema, television productions, historical novels, school manuals, etc., that popularise what he considers to be his field of expertise. Lastly for the historian of historiography or memory studies, the museum has itself become an object of inquiry as it provides particular insight into the constitution of collective memory, the state of historical knowledge in the past, providing a more or less clear panorama of the practices and issues at stake in the way the past was used to serve the present at different points in the museum’s history.
The diversity of relationships that exist between the historian and the museum needs to be considered in the context of the different kinds of historical genres and the variety of specialised domains that they engender. An historian of art, or more generally of forms and objects, who 1 may see himself as a veritable archaeologist of more or less banal things, relating to past societies, will most likely find himself entering into direct contact with some form of museum collection.
On the other hand, the historian of economy or politics, international relations or doctrines, may feel very detached from the accumulation of old manufactured products or the relics of great men that more classical museums might dedicate to such themes. The relationships between narrations and museums are conditioned, on the one hand, by the modalities that organise the writing of history and forge the didactic ideal of its diffusion, and on the other, by the logics inherent to writing about collections, including different rhetorics of enumeration and listing, and the sense of vertigo that goes with them, as described by Umberto Eco.
The museum and the historical account The philosopher Jacques Rancière attempted to define a certain typology of historical meaning in four modes, which can also be considered as categories for thinking about history museums.
Firstly, “history as the account of memorable events, an anthology of examples preserved by tradition and offered for emulation”. He also identifies “history that is an assemblage of elements unified in order to offer an organised representation”, such as the fable of tragedy or the historia of the painting. Another kind is “history as a regime of coexistence”, “the science of men in time”, dominated by the idea expressed by Marc Bloch that men are “rather sons of their time than of their fathers”. Lastly “a history that is an oriented kind of time; that is to say that it is not just a time that goes from the past to the future but it accomplishes a greater principle” (Rancière, 1996). In relation to this typology one might distinguish the museum of examples, the museum as presenting a tableau kind of overview, the museum of scientific history and lastly the oriented museum, that is presentist or that desires to be a guarantee for the future. In any case, the elaboration of an historical museum is a phenomenon that needs to be considered concurrently to the evolution of accounts by historians and the models of public discourse considered as best adapted to expressing the objectives of the institution.