Joan Roca Albert (MUHBA (Barcelona City History Museum))
City Museums, Historical Change, Urban Movement
City museums, as a means of social representation for citizens and citizenship, were born in Brussels and Paris in the 19th century to show through objects an urban past which was disappearing, as a way to keep a nostalgic sense of the city, legitimating its elites in times of great bourgeois change.
The mission of city museums has deeply changed and nowadays city museums are debating how to represent city and citizens in a dynamic and explanatory way, within the museum but also around the city in urban tours, open exhibitions and other formats.
City museums are tackling new ways of approaching heritage to incorporate new historical pasts (opening the museum to alternative approaches) and new geographical spaces (from the city centre to the great periphery, and the reverse) in order to incorporate the processes of motion as a central category to relevant narratives of urban history.
There is a need in city museums for historical new research approaches to the urban longue durée, showing its continuities and discontinuities - motion! - in themes like watering, feeding, migrants, refugees, epidemies, social mobility and social unrest, power and war.
And, at the same time, there is a need for more historical geography resarch concerning movement as a key category in contemporary city and urbanism, in a wide range of topics from, say, the impact of elevators and suburban trains in social zoning to the impact of large population movements that cities have to cope with.
The aim of the session is to promote the crossroad between urban history, among other social urban disciplines, and museology, towards new ways of tackling citizenship in city museums, which are experimenting a deep renewal all over Europe.
Berlin - always on the move. Dealing with change in Berlin's history and its presentation
Peter Lummel (Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin (City Museum of Berlin))
Change & Innovation, Berlin, Exhibition: Story of Berlin
Berlin is damned forever to become and never to be«, Karl Scheffler, 1910.
The speed of change and the vehemence of changes seems to have been particularly radical in Berlin since about the middle of the 19th century. In 2018, 110 years after its opening, the permanent exhibition „BerlinZEIT“ was opened in the central building of the Stadtmuseum, the "Märkisches Museum". The exhibition focuses on 18 "historical moments" of Berlin's history - all turning points that resulted in major changes for the city's citizens.
How does the Stadtmuseum Berlin deal with the approach of "telling" a city history on the basis of chosen central turning points? What role do the Berliners and their experiences of change play in the exhibition? Who tells the story, to what point are changes in perspective taken into account and how will those who have no interest in the history of the city be reached? Can a city's history provide impulses for a better understanding of current urban development? How can central points of world history that took place in Berlin be broken down into a focus on urban history in the exhibition? And last but not least, the question should be asked to what extent Berlin's dynamic of change differs from other metropolises.
The current permanent exhibition, together with other museum projects, is a test for the new development of the Märkisches Museum after a fundamental renovation and modernisation of the historic building. The lecture will also discuss initial considerations for the future of the traditional house from 2027 onwards.
A Museum on the Move
Jakob Ingemann Parby (Museum of Copenhagen)
Museology, Mobility, Urban Change
What does it mean to move a museum? And in what ways can city museums work as sites of interpretation of the ephemeral processes of transformation and longevity in urban history. The paper uses the case of the Museum of Copenhagen's transformation between 2015 and 2020 as a case study and starting point for the exploration of such questions and explores the way in which the museum has used categories of topography and time as a guiding principle for the innovative layout of the galleries in the new museum creating a walk through the city inside the museum building and connecting topographies of the contemporary city with biographies, conflicts and ideals from the past.
Mikhael Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope has been translated into a curatorial guideline for the design and layout of the galleries while individual galleries have been developed along thematical lines with userinvolvement and cocreation as significant methodologies.
We reopened the museum on its new location in february 2020 and will include reception and visitor reactions in our presentation.
Agile Museography : how a City Museum can follow the Urban Mouvement ?
Xavier De la Selle (Lyon History Museum (Museé Gadagne))
Museology, Exhibition, Urban History
The Lyon City Museum is 100 years old this year. Originaly, the first mission given to the museum was to extract the most powerful, pleasant and useful characteristics from the past in order to highlight what was produced in Lyon and signified the greatness of the city. It was a type of patriotic narrative, which aimed to develop or support a feeling of belonging to the « petites patries » (little homeland). 80 years later, a large project of complete renovation of the museum was launched. The new permanent exhibition, opened in 2009, was disappointing. The scenography was very classical and wholly « collections-oriented », very nice to look at, but not significant enough to understand the city.
Thus, a new reflexion began in 2015, in order to propose a more modern narrative of the city and a scenography more interactive which can allow public to project themselves in the city history and make a link with their own history. One of the first issues was the difficulty to define a city, of formulating a defintion of what a city is, accordind to who is being asked ask for : historians, archeologists, geographers, sociologists, etc.
How could the museum depart from the chronological exhibition, which was too much linear, without giving up the narrative approach ? Was it possible to have several narrative in one exhibition ? More than a thematic approach of the city, the museum aims to propose four different narratives, as four ways to tell the story, or four prisms through which on can read or look at the city. So the public can choose to visit just one of the four exhibitions or all the four exhibitions. In the future, the museum will have to deal with the question about updating the narrative in socalled « permanent » exhibition. If city museum are museum of the city includind present time, how far can the narrative go in the time ?
Bordeaux an Attractive City
Laurent Védrine (Musée d'Aquitaine)
Urban Heritage, Memory, Social Movement
Bordeaux is a city that has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2007. Its architectural splendor is particularly linked to the involvement of the Port de la Lune in the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century. In addition, Bordeaux has benefited for twenty years from a great attractiveness in terms of national mobility and tourism. This attractiveness also has negative effects. Bordeaux was one of the epicenters of the “Gilets jaunes” or “Yellow vests” movement in France in 2020, one of the main causes being these urban changes and the rise in the price of rents which push people to live further and further away. How can a history museum present a contrasting and up-to-date city story allowing it to be attractive to its inhabitants and the tourist public?
Community Stories, Changing Places, Cultural Connections: Pembroke Place, Liverpool
Liz Stewart (National Museum Liverpool)
Community, Co-research, Jewish Heritage
One Liverpool street, Pembroke Place, was at the heart of a 2016-2019 Museum of Liverpool project, ‘Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place’. One street tells so many stories and is a route in to so many areas of Liverpool’s community history. Themes of change, migration, and community were revealed through co-research with community volunteers.
The ‘Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place’ project especially focused on Liverpool’s Jewish community, many of whom lived in that area of Liverpool from the late eighteenth century to early twentieth century.
The project revealed the very diverse people who called Pembroke Place home, especially in the late nineteenth century. This paper evaluates the ways in which a range of approaches were brought together – historical research (especially by a large cohort of volunteers), archaeological excavation, and collecting memories from community elders – to reveal more about the history of the area. The stories revealed are now featured in an exhibition, online, and in interactive content in the Museum of Liverpool.
Building on this project, National Museums Liverpool is utilizing similar approaches to co-research, exploring multiple themes, and creating content through co-creation in our latest amazing project: the waterfront transformation.
Again, one geographical area of Liverpool reveals a huge plethora of stories which reflect the city’s history, the people who lived and work there and Liverpool’s global links, including through the trade in enslaved African people.
This paper will explore the ways in which museums working with communities can capture the history, significance and culture of places which are part of a vibrant and changing cityscape.
Departures: from Nostalgia to Modernity. The Silent Paths of Urban Motions in a City Museum Picture. The Case Study of Museum of Lisbon’s Arthur May Painting
Mario Nascimento (Museum of Lisbon)
City Museums, Explainig the City, Urban studies
Most City Museums have a collection incorporated within the somehow long-time span of their own existence. Their varied nature reflects important mental changes occurred within the different incorporation periods: different motivations, purposes and meanings for a frequently very diverse museum collection.
This presentation focusses on the importance of a new insight and approach to both the collection and the city heritage, having for case study a painting from the long-term exhibition.
The picture depicts an hotel connecting to the central railway station of Lisbon: the place can be considered an historical frontier between the old city and the new city in the 1900’s; It connected Lisbon to Madrid and Paris. The picture conceals several dimensions: produced as an attempt of innovation, emulating Parisian impressionist subjects and criteria, depicting a rather banal – and thus, modern – city life moment, when such “modern” moments could be captured by unartistic photography.
A second dimension is the context for its permanent display and the dialogues established within the room it was placed in. The innovativeness of the painting and it’s artistical values being underrated, the painting was linked an an illustrative memento of a changing point of the city expansion.
The present reading proposal integrates the two dimensions of the painting, testimony of a mental change on how the same painting was perceived: as an historical document evoking the expectations, desires and conflicts of a gone-by city era, bridging it with a recent past perspective about the artwork and bringing it to the contemporaneity , simultaneously relating the interpretation of the painting and the geographical site pictured in it.
The City as the Largest Open-Air Museum? Re-enactment, Juxtaposition and Narration of Heritage Buses in Urban Space
Kevin Ka-Hin Tsang (Universtiy of Cambridge)
Bus, Heritage, Open-air museum
This paper discusses the possibility of idea ‘the city as the largest open-air museum’. Material forms and experience of everyday transport, form part of urban history and knowledge, and transport history has been key as ‘public history’ (Scott and Divall, 2001). For instance, the London Transport Museum is centrally located in Covent Garden. Yet this paper seeks to go beyond the static museum site by studying the occasions of which heritage buses under preservation venture out for running in the city they used to serve. The discussion explains how such occasions potentially destabilise the locational boundaries of the static museum sites, incorporating what Featherstone (2007) observes as the postmodern features and playful approach to ‘montage exhibits that offer experiences’. It develops on the connections to the rest of the contemporary city being juxtaposed with the heritage buses from the yesteryear, which potentially activates other artifices in the city as ‘archival devices’ (Featherstone, 2009).
With the ‘urban embeddedness’ of museums (Prior, 2011), the return of the authentic sight, sound and smell that come with the bus to the cityscape, pushes the limit of the museum and blurs its boundary with wider urban space. It also has implications on how the ‘open-air museum’ can be expanded resembling Marlaux’s (1967) ‘museum without wall’ thesis in the literal sense. The other focus is the sociality generated through the heritage buses in motion, and implications on how this particular form of living history entails an environment of nostalgia-arousal. Whereas Walsh (1992) argues that there is no guide in the open-air museum with visitors being left to admire the thingyness of the object, this paper sheds light on the organically developed conversations of people reacting to the (unanticipated) presence of the heritage bus in the city, triggering autobiographical, bottom-up, fragmented, and non-linear narratives. It discusses how the didactic mission of the museum is fulfilled alternatively, as to democratise knowledge transferral, with self-initiated personal stories being dominant, vis-à-vis the often critiqued authoritative master narratives. The paper concludes by how this case could contribute to the new museology of the city particularly on the mobilities dimension.
14:00 Presentation, “Motion in city museums”, Joan Roca i Albert (7’ +1’ to change presentacion)
1. URBAN HISTORY IN CITY MUSEUM NARRATIVES
14:08 Berlin - always on the move. Dealing with change in Berlin's history and its presentation, Peter Lummel (12’+1’ to change presentation)
How does the Stadtmuseum Berlin deal with the approach of "telling" a city history on the basis of chosen central turning points? What role do the Berliners and their experiences of change play in the exhibition? Who tells the story?
14:21 København, “A Museum on the move”, Jakob Ingemann Parby (12’+1’ to change presentation)
The the way in which the museum has used categories of topography and time as a guiding principle for the innovative layout of the galleries... connecting topographies of the contemporary city with biographies, conflicts and ideals from the past.
14:34 Lyon, “Agile Museography : how a City Museum can follow the Urban Mouvement ?”, Xavier de la Selle (12’+1’ to change presentation)
How could the museum depart from the chronological exhibition, which was too much linear, without giving up the narrative approach? If city museum are museum of the city includind present time, how far can the narrative go in the time?
14:47 Bordeaux, “Bordeaux, an attractive city”, Laurent Védrine (12’+1’ to change presentation)
Bordeaux splendor is linked to the involvement of the Port in the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century. How can a history museum present a contrasting and up-to-date city story allowing it to be attractive to its inhabitants and the tourist public?
15:00 Debate (30’)
15:30-16:00 COFFEE BREAK
2. MUSEUMS SHAPING THE CITY AND THE CITY IMAGE
16:00 Liverpool, “Community Stories, Changing Places, Cultural Connections: Pembroke Place, Liverpool”, Liz Stewart (12’+1’ to change presentation)
Very diverse people called Pembroke Place ‘home’ in the late 19th century: one geographical area reveals a plethora of stories which reflect the city’s history. A range of approaches were brought together to reveal more about the history of the area.
16:13 Lisboa, “Departures: from Nostalgia to Modernity. The Silent Paths of Urban Motions in a City Museum Picture. The Case Study of Museum of Lisbon’s Arthur May Painting, Mario Nascimento (12’+1’ to change presentation)
An approach to both the collection and the city heritage, having for case study a painting from the long-term exhibition. With the two dimensions of the painting: as an historical document and as a contemporary artkwork.
16:26 London, “The City as the Largest Open-Air Museum? Re-enactment, Juxtaposition and Narration of Heritage Buses in Urban Space”, Kevin Ka-Hin Tsang (12’+1’ to change presentation)
Under the idea of the city as potentially the largest open air museum, this paper explores the occasion of the London Tube Strike heritage bus replacement services run by vehicles from the transport museum or private collectors.
16:39 Debate (38’)
17:17 Some conclusions and proposals, Joan Roca i Albert (13’)
17:30 Good bye! (or a beer or wine together sometimes during the conference!)