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?

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