Museums as Agents of Memory and Change
Museums have been shifting toward expanding their work from collecting and preserving to supporting and educating communities. They are using their collections to promote social change in the context of rising global demands on history and culture institutions. More than ever, dealing with the past is full of impediments and challenges for museums. How should they address a ‘global visitor’ who has little or no knowledge of the past – local, national or regional – to which the museum is dedicated? What stories should they tell and how, what memory cultures should they take into account? On the other hand, what have museums done and what do they intend to do in order to change the established way of remembering the past? What are the characteristics, risks and benefits in dealing with the difficult past in museums? What problems can museums tackle as they attempt to bring in changes to remembering and commemorating the past?
This conference aims to problematise museums as places of memory negotiations, and agents of societal change. While increasingly seeking to engage themselves in public life, museums are embedded in the fields of politics of memory and heritage, diverse, often disparate group interests, and power relations. How can a contemporary museum critically deal with the past and shape open debate and yet take into account diverse stakeholders and the versatility of narratives in play?