Accepted Paper:

Staging a dialogue in an Estonian museum: how to show bad people?  

Author:

Kristel Rattus (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores a museum's attempt to create a dialogical exhibition. In the paper, the question whether the breaking of customized relationships between the themes of cultural history worked as an adequate tool to introduce fresh insights into Estonian cultural discourse will be asked.

Paper long abstract:

The 1980s saw the rise of a new museological attitude, "more given to asking than answering questions" (Hein 2000, 6) which saw the role of museum exhibitions increasingly as providers of multivocality. This means the need to apprehend culture via describing, interpreting and giving sense to different personalities by means of multipart dialogue to enhance a deeper understanding about culture. Multipart cultural dialogue in the exhibition may derive from the selection of exhibited themes, but it may also evolve during the museum visit between the exhibition and different groups of visitors who interpret the display according to their previous experiences, knowledge, attitudes, values, etc. The ambition to find new ways to talk about culture and make unconventional histories, ideas and viewpoints visible is observable in Estonian museums, too. Present paper addresses the topic by the example of one exhibit named 'Have world-famous people come from Estonia?' from the exhibition by the Estonian History Museum, 'The Spirit of Survival'. The exhibition intended purposefully to break the habitual relationships between objects and the customary structure of cultural historical narrative by displaying objects and cultural topics in new and unexpected connections with each other in order to "freshen up" the trivialized understanding of culture. In the present paper, I aim to explore whether the breaking of customized relationships between the themes of cultural history afforded also to perceive the exhibition in an unconventional way and to introduce fresh insights into Estonian cultural discourse.

Panel P26
Mediation and circulation of cultural memory in identity settings