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for new arrivals. What these initiatives, and their political framework, have in common is the desire to promote inclusion of refugees and migrants into mainstream German society. Museums (especially, but not solely those that are publicly funded) have a duty to participate in this effort31. As the current definition of a museum by the International Council of Museums states, a museum is an institution ‘in the service of society and its development’32. This implies the whole of society, not merely a part. It means that in order to remain relevant to any given society, a museum must respond to the developments that affect any such society, for example demographic changes through migration. As US American museum bloggers in a joint statement after the 2014 shooting of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri wrote, such engagement with current events must not and cannot be limited by a museum’s (existing) collection33 . It is not enough to claim that a museum doesn’t have the collections to tell a certain story. This is to ignore the very political act of collecting itself. Many African American stories, for example, have never been comprehensively collected by mainstream American museums, most likely because they were not considered sufficiently important to the American story as a whole. This is why the opening in 2016 of the National Museum of African American History and Culture was such an important step in acknowledging and recognising the contribution of the African American community to the United States34. To move beyond thinking solely in terms of collections, the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2016 launched a project with the vision of the Museum as Site for Social Action – the MASS project35. At the heart of this project and the related toolkit are practices that serve to promote equity and inclusion in museums outside of the limited scope of working with collections. The museum thus is seen as needing to become a social actor and a place where current topics relevant to a community and society can be openly and safely debated. A museum as social actor in the way that the MASS project envisions can also not content itself, as some museums do, with using its collections to look primarily into the past. While history can of course provide examples and serve as a case study for certain topics, it cannot make up for engagement with the present day. Questions of relevance and imposed interpretations arise. Can the Roman invasion of Anglo-Saxon Britain really serve as an example of “successful immigration” and thus make a meaningful contribution to the (toxic) debate about immigration in modern-day Britain, as was suggested in

While the focus here is on the inclusion of refugees and migrants, it should be noted that the argument must be extended to other groups which are excluded from or marginalised in museums, whatever the reasons may be. 31

ICOM, 2007. Museum Definition. Available online: https://icom.museum/en/activities/standards-guidelines/ museum-definition/ (Accessed: 22.06.2019). Please note that this definition is currently under review, with a new definition intended to be agreed in autumn of 2019. 32

Jennings, G. et al, 2014. Joint Statement from Museum Bloggers and Colleagues on Ferguson and Related Events. Available online: http://www.museumcommons.com/2014/12/joint-statement-museum-bloggers-colleagues-ferguson-related-events.html (Accessed: 29.08.2015) 33

NMAAHC, no date. About the museum. Available online: https://nmaahc.si.edu/about/museum (Accessed: 22.06.2019) 34

Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2017. Toolkit. Available online: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58fa685dff7c50f78be5f2b2/t/59dcdd27e5dd5b5a1b51d9d8/1507646780650/TOOLKIT_10_2017.pdf (Accessed: 31.3.2018) 35

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Profile for Border_Crossings

THE PROMISED LAND: Intercultural Learning with Refugees and Migrants  

Project e-book for THE PROMISED LAND - a cross-sectoral project funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union. The book explores...

THE PROMISED LAND: Intercultural Learning with Refugees and Migrants  

Project e-book for THE PROMISED LAND - a cross-sectoral project funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union. The book explores...

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