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Houses for the Curious

Curating between Medicine, Life and Art

Ken Arnold

This article considers a curiosity-driven approach to curating focused on material culture that visitors encounter in physical spaces. Drawing on research into historical curiosity cabinets, it explores how a contemporary notion of curiosity has been put into practice in the new breed of culturally enlightened museums exploring interdisciplinary approaches to medicine, health, life, and art. Based on an inaugural professorial address at Copenhagen University, it reflects on exhibition projects there and at the Wellcome Collection in London. Museums are institutional machines that generate social understanding from material things. Their physical spaces influence how we learn, think, and feel in public; their material collections feed our comprehension, imagination, and emotions; and induce attentive behavior in curators and visitors.

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A “Safe Space” to Debate Colonial Legacy

The University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Campaign to Return a Looted Benin Altarpiece to Nigeria

Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp and Chris Wingfield

,” has become a space “in which problematic categories of action and objects” associated with difficult colonial pasts “can safely be sequestrated” (2016: 59). Arguably, in this instance, the MAA offered a safe space in which the college's commitment to

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With an Open Mind and Open Heart

Collections Care at the Laboratory of Archaeology

Kate Roth

Department of Anthropology. LOA’s facilities are located both in the Department of Anthropology at UBC as well as the neighboring Museum of Anthropology (MOA) and include laboratories, collections storage spaces (including ancestral housing), offices, and an

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Holistic Houses and a Sense of Place

Contextualizing the Bishop Museum Hale Pili Exhibit through Archaeological Analyses

Jennifer G. Kahn

residents of site 7206 had social relations embedded in both time and space. Situating the hale pili in place is meaningful as it re-creates the material setting for past social relations, while its locale speaks to other tangible aspects of place

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Margareta von Oswald and Verena Rodatus

the cosmo-optimistic, then, as a progressive set of ideas and aspirations that can inform ways of working in the museum context. As Wayne Modest and colleagues (2017) have suggested, the museum can be regarded as “a space of working through” in which

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Dubai's Museum Types

A Structural Analytic

John Biln and Mohamed El Amrousi

Dubai is often characterized as a city of artificiality and repackaged public spaces—a city without a past. The old historic Dubai has essentially disappeared, lost in the shadows of iconic resort projects and popular shopping malls. This article asks the following question: how do Dubai's museums function in relation to an urban field for the most part bereft of historical fabric, and in which the history that is made visible within the public realm is largely fictional or highly sanitized? We argue that to make sense of the ways history is represented and circulated in Dubai's public spaces, the traditional category of “museum” should be extended to include both large-scale history-themed malls and small heritage houses. Taken altogether, Dubai's museums and museum-like institutions constitute a conceptually complete and closed system that manages to “resolve” the apparent paradox of an urban context characterized by absence and historical loss, in which, paradoxically, expressions of historical fullness are everywhere.

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Exhibition Review

Venenum, un Monde Empoisonné, Musée des Confluences

Mariana Françozo

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.

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Anna Edmundson, Margo Neale, Michèle Rivet, Brett Mason, Katie Kyung, Rebecca Gibson, Alison K. Brown, Tatiana Argounova-Low, Maria Lucia de Niemeyer Matheus Loureiro, Charlotte Hyltén-Cavallius, and Fredrik Svanberg

MEETING REPORTS

Return of the Native: Contestation, Collaboration, and Co-authorship in Museum Spaces, Australian National University, 18–19 June 2015

Access Is a Human Right: The Federation of International Human Rights Museums Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 23–25 September 2015

PROJECT REPORTS

Narrative Objects: The Sakha Summer Festival and Cultural Revitalization

Object, Document, and Materiality: Outline of an Ongoing Research Project

Museums Beyond Homogeneity: Museums and Diversity in Sweden

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Philipp Schorch

Drawing on a narrative study of Australian visitors to the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, this article explores the hermeneutic complexities of migration encounters through the meaning-making processes of museum visitors. Throughout this process of interpretive negotiations, museum exhibitions and visitor biographies become intertwined through narratives of migration. The empirical evidence emphasizes that the humanization of migration through stories and faces renders possible an understanding, explanation, and critique of sociopolitical contexts through the experience of human beings. Migration emerges as a practice that transforms cosmopolitanism from an abstract, normative ideal into a lived, interpreted reality. This article, then, is devoted to the cosmohermeneutics of migration encounters, that is, to an experienced and thus “actually existing cosmopolitanism” (Malcomson 1998) that entangles self and other through visitors' interpretive dialectics of reflexivity and empathy. The article suggests a cosmopolitan museum practice that opens interpretive spaces for shifting subjectivities and multiple identifications across differences and commonalities.

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Museum Mediators in Europe

Connecting Learning in a Field of Experience

Alice Semedo

Learning networks do not arise from nothing. They are born out of personal connections, exchanged conversations, constructed spaces, and shared visions. Other broader contexts (e.g., the theoretical contexts or funding policies available within a globalized economy) are also part of this landscape. The Museum Mediators in Europe course is one of such learning networks that came to be in 2013 with the aim of representing institutional and professional needs of mediation professionals in the European countries involved in this project: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Estonia. The project argues that a clearly defined set of best practices in museum education is called for and that leadership/mentoring programs for museum mediators should be utilized to foster professional learning communities within museums.