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tourism,” mostly in Northern Europe. The Swedish American Center in Karlstadt, for example, created in 1960, has been, since its inception, a point of reference for the descendants of the Swedish in the “new world.” Part of its activity consists in organising and welcoming guided tours for the descendants of emigrants. Its digital archive, “EmiWeb–Living migration history,” is “a profit organisation within non-profit organisations” whose purpose, as written on the website, is “getting archives online and contributing to non-profit organisations’ research and development” (emiweb.eu). The Norwegian Emigration Center in Stavanger, which hosts the permanent exhibition “The Promise of America,” as well as doing genealogical research, also provides information and facilities for “heritage tourists.”2 The German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven is also very committed to linking the two sides of the Atlantic and in promoting its activities in the USA.

Another element that should be added to Baur’s reflection, when considering Europe, is the impulse given by the riots that have touched some cities, such as London and Paris, in recent years, and have led many influential figures (Angela Merkel and David Cameron in primis)3 to allude to the death of multiculturalism. Before putting the gravestone on this concept—or utopia, some might think—museums are questioning themselves and their audiences about the nature of multiculturalism, its limits, horizons and meanings. Migration museums, as well as being a celebration of an ancestor’s epic voyage, are meaningful when they are sensitive to the tensions, conflicts and negotiation areas which, today, are representative of their true nature. Otherwise, they risk becoming mausoleums or, worse, weekend theme parks. ææ some reflections on the specificity of migration museums

Generally speaking, European migration museums tend to tell collective stories, to stress the universal and atemporal dynamic of migrations, factors that are both rooted in the history of the single place, harbour or building, but that also transcend it. The birth of community museums (for example, dedicated to the role of Albanians in Italy, Mozambicans in Portugal, or the Turkish in Germany) is premature, and perhaps not a priority. Beyond considerations of colonial history, the fragmentation of Europe and the separatism professed in some regions, the recent issues connected to the economic crisis and the role of “strong” countries in respect to the poorer ones certainly do not contribute to serene reflection, based on the sharing of a common identity. Consequently, when it comes to the question of the kind and width of discourse promoted—whether at a local, regional, national or international level—, each museum has a dif2  See the interview with Diana Pardue, director of museum programs at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, on HamburgChicagoNews.net, September 2007: http://www.hamburgchicagonews.com/2007/09/genealogy-gateways-and-great-cities/ (accessed 13th December 2012). 3  The reference is to the speech to members of her Christian Democratic Union party in Potsdam by Merkel 16 October 2010 and to the one by Cameron at the Munich Security Conference on 5 February 2011, both of which led to heated debate.

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European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

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