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320 — european museums in the 21st century: setting the framework (vol. 2)

ferent response, depending mostly on the territory, the period taken into consideration and the audience it addresses. Very local museums tend to stress the epic of their fellow citizens and tell their personal stories—this is very evident in many local Italian museums, such as the Museo Eoliano dell’Emigrazione in Salina or the Museo dell’Emigrante Casa Giannini near Genoa). Historical museums which developed from research centres tend to show documents and to build thematic narrations around them (e.g. the Museo dell’Emigrazione Paolo Cresci in Lucca). Museums with a national vocation, such as the CNHI in Paris, raise the voice of the individual migrant to a higher level, in an e pluribus unum attitude. It is interesting to note that, while the CNHI takes into consideration the period from the end of the 19th century, the small MhiC near Barcelona, dedicated to immigration in Catalonia, begins its analysis in prehistory, underlining how migration is a peculiar trait of mankind, and thus avoiding the risk of an overly local perspective. Museums dedicated to immigration in Europe are exceedingly rare. Apart from the CNHI, the MhiC near Barcelona and the Immigrantmuseet in Farum, near Copenhagen, are very interesting case studies, and are therefore described in detail below. A special case is represented by 19 Princelet Street, a building located in the Spitalfields neighbourhood of London, which—in the style of the Tenement Museum in New York— represents a place of memory, being a tenement where many immigrant families have lived over the centuries.

The analysis of migration museums could be easily extended to the many other museums which focus on the theme of displacement, mobility and diaspora, such as those dedicated to slavery (the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, opened in 2007), migrant labour (Le Bois du Cazier in Marcinelle, but also, for example, the interesting Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Industriekultur net), Jewish diaspora, Shoah and Porrajmos, and civil rights (such as the Humanity House in The Hague). Of course, the theme of migrations increasingly interacts with the anthropological and city museums, as well as the new French multidisciplinary museums—such as the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, focusing on the interaction of science and society, and due to open in 2014, and the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille, opening in Spring 2013.

As migration is the contemporary or “up-to-date” theme, museums with a different vocation have turned to it. The Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg, for example, organised a permanent exhibition in 2012 (“Titanic. Retour à Cherbourg”) and a seminar within the framework of the “Titanic cities” network, arranging the luggage hall in order to create a space dedicated to the theme of European emigration to America. The borders of migration museums seem to be fluid and under constant re-negotiation. Kerstin Poehls’ remark about the “blurring effect” of migration leads us to a two-fold reflection concerning, on the one hand, the physical limits of migration museums and their possibilities to extend their borders and become a sort of new “eco-museum” or “open-air mu-

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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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