Accepted Paper:

Exhibiting echoes, shreds and shadows  

Author:

Yann Laville (Musée d'ethnographie de Neuchâtel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents how the Ethnographic museum of Neuchatel deals with conceptual topics, research and innovative scenography without overlooking its more "classic" collections

Paper long abstract:

Since the 1980s, the Ethnographic museum of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) has grown famous for developing exhibitions on contemporary, transcultural and often conceptual issues.

In all these cases, connections with scholars and researchers from outside of the museum have been particularly important and fruitful. In all these cases, topics have led to question standard museum collections and to develop new acquisition policies aiming at documenting the present time. In all these cases, specific, theatrical displays have been invented in order to serve the content, to make the visit more thrilling and to escape the mere logic of contemplation (windows, hangings).

It must however be stressed that the classic, ethnographic part of the collections was never forgotten along the way. It has been constantly reexamined, reinterpreted and mobilized in accordance with the new projects. To a large extent, knowledge about ancient objects has helped to shape, validate, broaden or put in perspective thinking about present issues.

In this paper, I will present some examples of this dialectical process in relationship to recent exhibition projects. I will notably focus on our threefold project on Intangible cultural heritage which tackled the issue though the metaphors of echoes, shreds and shadows.

This trilogy is particularly relevant in this panel as it belonged to national research project.

If time allows me, I will also say a few words on our latest project L'impermanence des choses (the impermanence of all things) which questions the very notion of a "permanent" exhibition and shows how ancient objects may be involved in a constant process of reinterpretation and questioning.

Panel P046
Exhibiting Anthropology beyond Museum Collections