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

img. 4.08 — The “Cultures” section in the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, Paris, France. © EPPD-Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration.

challenges? Should the museum promote inclusion, dialogue and mutual understanding, or should it just demonstrate that migration is an eternal phenomenon, part of human nature and history, so that everybody can make connections at their own level, with their own tools? And more precisely: should immigrants work in the museums? How many languages should be spoken in guided tours and workshops? Should there be a place for the immigrants’ communities to show off their culture, to celebrate, to discuss?

Evidently, as well as an obvious response concerning the finances, staff and other resources available for all these activities, each museum has to choose and define its profile within the framework of its territory. The MhiC, for example, being a small museum with very few staff and located in a fairly unfortunate district in the suburbs of Barcelona, chose to work on the idea of citizenship—a more extensive, thought-provoking concept compared to the objective concept of “immigration”—and to promote extensive outreach activities with local communities, groups and associations, described in detail in the chapter dedicated to this case-study. The museum is then really “the ear that listens to society” which John Kinard referred to when talking about Anacostia; exhibitions are the outcome of this listening activity, not its point of departure (Kinard 1972). ææ trends in exhibition design

The lack of a collection and the need to create one can be the stimulus for contacting immigrant associations, activists, individuals and families, and asking them to contribute. This is not a neutral request, as museum operators know well. The fact of being represented in a museum through one’s objects creates commitment but also constraints, a positive tie but also a wish to control which sometimes collides with the nature of the museum, its vital rhythm and priorities. Through the necessary, and con-

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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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