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img. 4.09 — Museo Regionale dell’Emigrazione Pietro Conti, Gualdo Tadino, Italy. Photo by Anna Chiara Cimoli.

tinual negotiation, the Immigrantmuseet in Farum shows objects donated by the immigrants, without ever putting too much emphasis on their individual stories, on the owner, etc. The object is “fused” into the main narrative and is given back its personal nature only during guided tours. A very different choice is that of the CNHI in Paris, where the “Galerie des dons” (Gallery of gifts) becomes, symbolically, a very important exhibit. The gallery is physically separated from the permanent exhibition and constitutes a poetic, emotional look at objects brought from home, touched a thousand times, chosen carefully by the individuals who recognise themselves in the institution. After a visit to the thematic exhibition, the walk through this part of the museum suggests a kind of secular ritual of dismissal, a (reversible) wish to contribute—or to give back.

Another interesting case-study which features the idea of “making objects speak” is that of the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven, also described in detail further on. Here, for example, a pair of jeans owned in the 1970s by a Vietnamese worker represents modernity itself—seen both from Vietnam and from East Germany. The visitor is told the story of the owner, gets to know her name, becomes familiar with her. The owner of the object is given a significant role, and his/her story is recounted via the “technological” passport given to every visitor at the entrance. As European museums are slowly taking into consideration ways of involving, including and questioning the immigrants, of telling their stories as connected to that of our emigrants, or of opening up spaces for dialogue and confrontation, the exhibition scale still leans in favour of emigration. Indeed, in this time of globalisation, travelling is no longer such a big deal—at least from some countries to others. Many immigrants simply arrive by plane, or even by train. In the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, emigration from Europe to America or to Australia was a real epic, with the ocean crossing—so many of the people

Profile for POLITECNICO DI MILANO-DPA

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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