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.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Research Week - National Museums in Culturally Diverse Societies: A Place to Promote Diversity

I have to say, at the outset, that Chulani's research is based upon what is possibly the most complex inventory and documentation project I have ever seen. It's incredibly detailed. Well done Chulani!!!

In any case, to get onto the subject of the talk, the cultural representation in the National Museum Colombo in Sri Lanka, in terms of the percentage of objects from the hugely diverse cultures which are presented there. Nations, as she recognises, are not homogeneous, and this means that National Museums should begin to act as points of intersection. Museums, she argues, have a responsibility - but to what extent is the National Museum Colombo representative of the population make up of Sri Lanka?

To answer this question, Chulani has explored the permanent displays, and formulate a practical framework for culturally diverse representation. Initially, after her overview of the state and nature of Sri Lanka, its people, environments and language, she goes on to examine the museum itself, identifiying their objects according to cultural affiliation, and expresses through this the cultural representativeness of the museum. But it is not so simple, for it is not just the number of objects which the museum displays, but the 'quality' or 'significance' of those objects. So Chulani has, in immense detail, formulated a project which can tell us a significant amount, both about how museums represent, and how they accord value. Its an important issue.

Good luck, Chulani - you deserve it!

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