Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Museum History - History of the Museums

An ambitious project to write the concise history of museums and museum field in Finland was launched in 2005. The project consists of two phases: Phase 1 aims to collect data and material from museums, interview elder and retired museum professionals and collect material about exhibitions. The writing of the History is the aim of phase 2. Phase 1 will be carried out by museums: they will submit material into a web-database and carry out the interviews.

Interviews and other material (minutes, yearbooks etc.) are great and indispensable for studying museums. However, if used alone the perspective of the study will remain quite narrow. To broaden the scope research should, IMHO, also include analytical and interpretative study of collections and the way they were aquired. Studying collections as a whole will reveal ideas, ways of thinking and seeing the world in a way that no other document can. There is no know-how or many models to do this kind of collection research. In my own study of th Sami collections in the National Museum of Finland, I presented one simple model to do this. The results of my study were very convincing. As to my understanding, studying a museum but not its collections will easily result in positivist history, not in a thorough research.


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