CONF: What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe, 26-28 June, Berlin

On the occasion of its 20th birthday the MEK – Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin hosts the conference “What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe”. The conference focuses on blank spots: Which objects, narratives, methods and actors have not been paid any (or enough) attention to and are missing in our museum reflections on contemporary daily lives and societies in Europe? Numerous European collections and museums with objects of everyday life are going through processes of transformation – from historical folklore, national and sometimes ethnically oriented to contemporary, European and transculturally designed institutions. In this process, the historical collections are both a blessing and a curse: They form the basis of existence for these museum types – but the collections themselves and/or their ‘traditional’ narrative framings do not sufficiently represent current social developments or complex pasts. How can these museums adequately account for new sociopolitical contexts, especially against the background of present theoretical debates, which conceptualize things, actors, spaces and routes as closely entangled? In addition, the political “European project” is being increasingly called into question and conflicting ideas about European identity/identities and cultural heritage are being strongly communicated in many arenas. What social role do museums – and especially the (former) folklore museums – want to play in these debates of Europe in transition? How can a reinterpretation and contemporization of collections and exhibitions through (post-)migratory, queer, decolonial, fugitive, dis/abled or other marginalized lenses be established in mainstream museum work?

“What’s missing?” would like to provide a platform for museum practitioners and theoreticians, fostering exchange about identifying, challenging and including blank spots in the practices of museums who strive for a reflexive and critical “Europeanisation”.

Deadline for registration: June, 10th, 2019 via
Conference fee (to be paid on location): 20 € regular/10 € reduced for students, trainees and job-seekers

The conference is funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Verein der Freunde des Museums
Europäischer Kulturen e.V. (Association of Friends and Sponsors of the MEK) and Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.


Preliminary Programme
Please check our website soon for an updated conference programme:

Wednesday, 26th June 2019

Evening Lecture

Suay Aksoy (President of ICOM – International Council of Museums)

Thursday, 27th June 2019

Conference Opening

Christina Haak (General Directorate – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Elisabeth Tietmeyer (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Panel I ‘Global Europe’
(Chair: Judith Schühle, Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Gerald McMaster (OCAD University, Toronto)

Diana Pardue (Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, New York)

Akiko Mori (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)

Imani Tafari-Ama (University of the West Indies, Kingston)

Panel II ‘Towards the Transformation of Collections of Everyday Culture’
(Chair: Brigitte Heck, Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe)

Matthias Beitl (Volkskundemuseum Wien)

Denis Chevallier (MuCEM – Musée des Civilisations del’Europe et de la
Méditerranée, Marseille)

Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz (Muzeum Etnograficzne, Kraków)

Richard Sandell (University of Leicester)


Ferda Ataman (Freelance Journalist, Berlin) and Susan Kamel (HTW – Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin)

Friday, 28th June 2019

Panel III ‘Methods & Structures’
(Chair: Iris Edenheiser, Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Kárla Kuti (Hungarian National Museum, Budapest)

Shaz Hussein (Science Museum, London, and Detox Museum)

Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (University of Oulu)

Erica Lehrer (Concordia University, Montreal)

Panel IV ‘Exhibiting Europe?’
(Chair: Magda Buchczyk, Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Constanze Itzel (House of European History, Bruxelles)

Markus Moehring (Dreiländermuseum Lörrach)

Anna Schmid (Museum der Kulturen Basel)

Marlen Mouliou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Reflections & Final Discussion
(Impuls & Chair: Sharon Macdonald, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)