Cultural-scientific narration and material culture

Since their origin at around the year 1800, museums have been places of education and knowledge. In an increasingly globally connected society, the public debate on cultural heritage and society’s self-understanding and canon of values is extremely important. Museums, in particular, remind us that objects of all sorts can store knowledge. They not only present artifacts but offer “narrations” that establish meaning and are related to history, norms, and values. Objects tell of those who produced and used them, of the trade routes they have taken, and of cultural differences. But artifacts are appealing not only due to their presence and aesthetic. Their informative value is revealed only by conveying historical contexts, functions, and usages. This makes museums significant sites of reflection and the self-understanding of society. The value of objects in a museum is not pre-given, but subject to socially relevant negotiation processes. Museums are called upon to constantly develop new forms of cultural narration in the light of the objects. These issues are intensively discussed in current museological research (te Heesen/Lutz 2005; Korff 2007). Conferences such as “Was heißt und zu welchem Ende betreibt man Forschung in Museen?”  (Berlin, 12/17-19/2000; see Krull/Graf 2009) and “Die Zukunft der Forschung in Museen” (Hannover, 06/11+12/2014; see Hoins/Mallinckrodt 2014) have set the topic on the agenda from this perspective.

Current university research on objects of material culture and their social relevance reveals a large overlap with these questions of museum practice, without both fields having as yet come in sufficient contact (see most recently Lichtensteiger 2014). Cultural-scientific debates presently focus foremost on object worlds, cultural techniques, and networks of human and nonhuman actors characterizing modern societies (Latour 2001; Miller 2010; Siegert 2015; Belliger/Krieger 2006). Objects in general are not regarded in an isolated way, but grasped as meaningful artifacts in ever new frameworks of sense and spatial structures (Tilley 2013; Samida 2014; Breward 1999). In the face of these research approaches, museums and the forms of contemplation and concentration they have established gain new relevance for the humanities.

The cultural sciences, in turn, possess a comprehensive pool of historical and theoretical knowledge that is to be activated for and communicated to museums and the narrations and object relations that they establish.

PriMus combines cultural-scientific reflection and museum practice in a cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional manner based on the state of current debates. Doctoral candidates work with collection stocks that also illustrate the history of the respective museum. They are especially suitable to test approaches of cultural-scientific narration and are simultaneously upgraded vis-à-vis temporary shows and the coercions of museum event culture. Stimuli for permanent exhibitions are also provided in this way. Especially these exhibitions “require active research input […] to reach the highest level of knowledge as far as content is concerned” (WKN, Forschung in Museen 2010, p. 25).

Zitierte Literatur: 

  • (Belliger/Krieger 2006): Belliger, Andréa, David J. Krieger: ANThology: Ein einführendes Handbuch zur Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie, Bielefeld 2006.
  • (Breward/Aynsley/Kwint 1999): Breward, Christopher, Jeremy Aynsley, Marius Kwint (Hrsg.): Material Memories. Design and Evocation, Oxford/New York 1999.
  •  (Hoins/Mallinckrodt 2014): Hoins, Katharina, Felicitas von Mallinckrodt: [Tagungsbericht zu:] Die Zukunft der Forschung in Museen (Hannover, 11. - 12.06.2014). In: H-ArtHist, 25.06.2014, (Stand 10.3.2015).
  •  (Korff 2007): Korff, Gottfried: Museumsdinge. Deponieren - Exponieren, hrsg. von Martina Eberspächer, Gudrun Marlene König, Bernhard Tschofen, Köln/Weimar/Wien 2007.
  •  (Krull/Graf 20099: Krull, Wilhlem, Bernhard Graf (Hrsg.): Was heißt und zu welchem Ende betreibt man Forschung in Museen?. Berlin 2009.
  • (Latour 2001): Latour, Bruno: Das Parlament der Dinge, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  •  (Lichtensteiger/Minder/Vögeli 2014): Lichtensteiger, Sibylle, Aline Minder, Detlev Vögeli (Hrsg.): Dramaturgie in der Ausstellung. Begriffe und Konzepte für die Praxis, Bielefeld 2014.
  •  (Miller 2010): Miller, Daniel: Der Trost der Dinge, Berlin 2010.
  • (Samida 2014): Samida, Stefanie (Hrsg.): Handbuch Materielle Kultur. Bedeutungen - Konzepte - Disziplinen, Stuttgart 2014
  • (Siegert 2015): Siegert, Bernhard: Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors And Other Articulations of the Real, New York 2015 (im Erscheinen).
  • (te Heesen/Lutz 2005): te Heesen, Anke, Petra Lutz (Hrsg.): Dingwelten. Das Museum als Erkenntnisort, Köln/Weimar/Wien 2005.
  • (Tilley u.a. 2013): Tilley, Chris, Webb Kaeane, Susanne Küchler, Mike Rowlands, Patricia Spyer (Hrsg.): Handbook of Material Culture, London 2013.
  • (WKN, Forschung in Museen 2010): Forschung in Museen. Eine Handreichung, hrsg. von der Wissenschaftlichen Kommission Niedersachsen, Hannover 2010. (Stand 13.3.2015)