(Mette originally posted this yesterday morning, but as there's such a good discussion going on, I don't want it to get lost among the photos, so I've moved it back to the top of the pile! Amy)
From the 26-28 February about 50 museum enthusiasts were gathered in Linkoping in Sweden for the first out of six conferences on National Museums. The series of conferences is supported by Marie Curie and organised by Leicester University, Oslo University and Linköping University. (http://www.namu.se/)
Entitled ‘Setting the Frame’ this conference consisted of 3 key note speakers, around 40 small presentations following comments and discussions and lots of dialogue between museum academics or professionals from around the world. And how did it go? To be honest Im still trying to figure it out. There were definitely good things and great experiences. The context was perfect, with catering, organizers and facilities being perfect as well as the luxury of meeting peers that had come from all over the world. Personally my paper presentation went well and I received some really relevant and useful comments, I met some inspiring people also working with active audiences and I hope there is basis for forming a sort of research group across countries, which will support and follow and challenge each others work. All in all I did walk away with lots of good ideas and experiences.
But there was also something that kept nagging me the whole conference - and maybe it was because this was the first conference and we never really did anything but scratching the surface of the different presenters’ ideas. I think one thing we really need to be aware of in this field is to renew our selves. Use new concepts, new words, new theory, new perspectives and challenge fixed assumptions. In a way it is a paradox. Museum Studies has been cross disciplinary from the start and draws per definition on different academic theories. But it is not so new anymore and I think that it is clear that a foundation of a very settled academic tradition is taken shape. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can become sleepy and characterized by routines if we do not challenge this foundation all the time. Properly if we had more time to discuss each paper or if the theme has been more focussed this little feeling of repetition would disappear…it is great that we have 5 other conferences to do this! Anyway this is just my oppinion - lets hear from others!!
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.