Museum Worlds: Advances in Research Volume 7 (2019) is an open issue, covering a rich variety of topics reflecting the range and diversity of today’s museums around the globe. This year’s volume has seven research articles, four of them dealing with very different but equally fascinating issues: contested African objects in UK museums, industrial heritage in Finland, manuscript collecting in Britain and North America, and Asian art exhibitions in New Zealand. But this issue also has a special section devoted to Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, which contains three articles and an interview.
Sheila K. Hoffman, Conal McCarthy, and Billie Lythberg
25th ICOM General Conference. International Conference Center, Kyoto, Japan, 1–7 September 2019 by Sheila K. Hoffman
Interaction, Integration, and Flow. Researching the Museum in the Global Contemporary, Shaanxi Normal University, Xian, 15–20 September 2019 by Conal McCarthy
‘Amui ‘i Mu’a: Ancient Futures Conference. Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Tonga, 7–12 October 2019 by Billie Lythberg
Conal McCarthy and Sandra H. Dudley
After special issues of Museum Worlds: Advances in Research in 2016 and 2017, Volume 6 (2018) is an open issue. In the last two years, the journal has canvassed issues to do with museum archeology, repatriation, and engaging anthropological legacies, as well as with its annual scan of books, exhibitions, conferences, and other events around the museum world, not just in the Anglophone North Atlantic but also in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific.
Venenum, un Monde Empoisonné, Musée des Confluences
The Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France, recently organized a remarkable exhibition: Venenum, un Monde Empoisonné. It ran from April 2017 to April 2018 and was located in one of the museum’s five large temporary exhibition spaces. Venenum did justice to the multidisciplinary and multi-thematic nature of this newly founded museum, bringing together objects otherwise classified separately as natural history, art, ethnography, or history.
Stefan Berger, Anna Cento Bull, Cristian Cercel, Nina Parish, Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein, Eleanor Rowley, Zofia Wóycicka, Jocelyn Dodd, and Sarah Plumb
War Museums and Agonistic Memory
Within the EU-Horizon-2020-funded project Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe (UNREST),1 one work package (WP4) analyzed the memorial regimes of museums related to the history of World War I and World War II in Europe. An article by Anna Cento Bull and Hans Lauge Hansen (2016) entitled “Agonistic Memory” provided the theoretical framework for the analysis. Drawing on Chantal Mouffe’s work (2005, 2013), the authors distinguish three memorial regimes: antagonistic, cosmopolitan, and agonistic.
Unexpected Encounters: Museums Nurturing Living and Ageing Well
As the world’s population ages, how can museums nurture living and aging well? The conference Unexpected Encounters: Museums Nurturing Living and Ageing Well, organized by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) from the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, set out to interrogate this question, and invited conference delegates to consider how museums unconsciously make assumptions about older people and perpetuate the dominant societal view of aging as a “problem.”
Cuban Posters for African Liberation 1967–1989
Sandra H. Dudley and Conal McCarthy
Engaging Anthropological Legacies toward Cosmo-optimistic Futures?
Sharon Macdonald, Henrietta Lidchi, and Margareta von Oswald
How to deal with the legacies of colonial and other problematic pasts is a challenge shared by most museums of ethnography and ethnology. In this introduction to the following special section on the same topic, the section editors provide an overview and analysis of the burdens and potentials of the past in such museums. They set out different strategies that have been devised by ethnographic museums, identifying and assessing the most promising approaches. In doing so, they are especially concerned to consider the cosmopolitan potential of ethnographic museums and how this might be best realized. This entails explaining how the articles that they have brought together can collectively go beyond state-of-the-art approaches to provide new insight not only into the difficulties but also into the possibilities for redeploying ethnographic collections and formats toward more convivial and cosmo-optimistic futures.
Repatriation and Ritual, Repatriation as Ritual
Laura Peers, Lotten Gustafsson Reinius, and Jennifer Shannon
This special section of Museum Worlds explores the entire process of repatriation as a set of rituals enacted by claimants and museum staff: a set of highlighted performances enacting multiple sets of cosmological beliefs, symbolic systems, and political structures. Some of the rituals of repatriation occur within the space of Indigenous ceremonies; others happen within the museum spaces of collections storage and the boardroom; others, such as handover ceremonies, are coproduced and culturally hybrid. From the often obsessive bureaucracy associated with repatriation claims to the affective moment of handover, repatriation articulates a moral landscape where memory, responsibility, guilt, identity, sanctity, place, and ownership are given a ritual form. Theory about ritual is used here to situate the articles in this section, which together form a cross-cultural examination of ritual meaning and form across repatriation processes.