NaMu: Re-imaging the National Museum (Workshop 5)

Call for participation for Workshop 5

Re-imagining the National Museum: Traditional Institutions in an era of technological change

University of Leicester, UK, 16-18 June 2008

The fifth in a series of 6 workshops interrogating national museums, organised by the Universities of Linköping, Oslo and Leicester, this workshop will consider how pervasive technologies are altering, or might alter, the place of the national museum in society. In previous workshops we have considered the ways in which territories and histories have produced national museums of differing complexions, and how each differs as a representation of nation to an indigenous population and in its relation to the wider world. At the last meeting in Leicester, in June 2007, we explored in detail the narratives performed within the London nationals through museum visits and thematic workshops. Leicester 2008 will again provide opportunities to discuss, debate and be inspired. Fuelled by keynote presentations from leading thinkers from around the world, this meeting will provide an opportunity to consider how technological change seems to alter and reconfigure the national museum and the values that have lead to its universal adoption. Some of these keynote speakers may talk about the technologies themselves, while others might consider the problem of understanding this change more philosophically. However, it will not be the aim of delegates at this meeting to attempt to catalogue global activity in terms of the adoption of new technologies or online resources. It is rather that we are already beginning to live our lives online, and in doing so we are reconfiguring communities and turning away from materialism. Indeed, the solidity of those aspects of society which were critical to the formation of these museums – nations, borders, material icons, language – are dissolving in these discrete digitised environments. The future, then, is not simply about the adoption of technologies or their effective application, but rather about seeing and believing differently. We have already seen television fundamentally altered by publics who wish to be actors, producers and directors. Television has adopted the mindset of the Web. Museums, in contrast, and despite all their democratising actions of the last thirty years, remain more controlling. They are undoubtedly very active in this world of new media but they have also remained true to established values of institutional authority and control. From what we know of this future, and what we have learned from the past, can we re-imagine the national museum?

For more information, click here.

NaMu delegates are also invited to attend the UK Museums and the Web conference.


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