The aim of this panel is to address ethnographic museums in historical and contemporary perspective and investigate in which ways they are formed by as well as promote the circulation of objects, peoples, ideas, knowledge, and power. Central to this process are the recent technological innovations, via the so-called digital turn, that stress the mediated processes through which meaning is dynamically created in museums. The panel will be chaired by Pille Runnel (Estonian National Museum), with Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt (University of Tartu) as the discussant.
Conventionally understood as traditional and static national institutions, ethnographic museums have undergone drastic changes in the last quarter of a century and have tried to redefine themselves as knowledge-producing, public-oriented cultural arenas. However, this re-invention has not changed the very essence of what a museum is and does - a place where different peoples, times and places are connected in a single experience. In fact, movements and exchange are and always have been the basic operational method of the museum. In this panel, we would like to look at museums as places of circulation in the broadest sense of the term. Our aim is to address ethnographic museums in historical and contemporary perspective and investigate in which ways they are formed by as well as promote the circulation of objects, peoples, ideas, knowledge, and power. This is particularly the case in contemporary museum, where the use of digital technologies explicitly demonstrate the interconnectedness and multi-sited nature of meaning-construction and of the museum experience in general. Therefore, we would also like to encourage the discussion of new modes of promoting exchanges between museums and their audiences, focusing on the creative bilateral interactions that occur within such participation. Additional information concerning collections, and digital access to heritage are examples of new digital media adopted by museums. By doing so, we hope to advance the debate on the political constitution of diacritic values. Topics include, but are not limited to: - Circulation of objects and the formation of museum collections; - Circulation of meaning and knowledge-production in museums, with particular regard to participatory audiences; - Museum publics: local communities, tourism, and the circulation of people; - Cultural heritage and the role of digital technologies in repatriation; - New (social) media and new display technologies