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Peter Niedermüller er professor ved Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Berlin.
Bjarne Stoklund (1928-2013) var professor i europæisk etnologi ved Københavns Universitet (1971-96) og inspektør på Frilandsmuseet 1958-71. Forfatter til en lang række etnologiske artikler og bøger, bl.a. Tingenes Kulturhistorie: etnologiske studier i den materielle kultur (2003).
Museum and Modernity
The institution called museum must be counted among the most peculiar and fascinating features of modernity. To analyze and interpret this institution and its changing roles is therefore a relevant task for those interested in the cultural history of the Western world. Consequently, there has recently in the humanities been a growing interest in museum history, especially among European ethnologists who include several museum pioneers among the early practioners of their own subject. The majority of the articles in this issue of Ethnologia Europaea are dedicated to museums, their history and their role in a changing Europe. We start with the first museums, the cabinets of curiosity of the Renaissance. In his paper, Valdimar Hafstein focuses on one of the early collectors, the Dane Ole Worm (1588–1654), professor of medicine at the University of Copenhagen, who not only established a famous museum that came to form the basis of Denmark’s National Museum, but also did pioneering ethnological surveys, wrote a monumental work on runes and collected and published medieval folklore and literature. Through his study of this learned man and his European relations, Hafstein wants to clarify "the new technicians of knowledge, the virtuosi, whose emergence in the Renaissance marks the rise of the (secular) scholar to prominence as a third power in European societies, alongside the royalty and the clergy". In the second half of the 18th century, the old cabinets of curiosity gave way to specialized collections, primarily among the natural sciences. In the 19th century, however, the museums of cultural history became the most prominent, closely related, as they were, to the new nation states then under formation in most of Europe. The first of these museums were concentrating on prehistoric and medieval objects, while museological interest in the Renaissance and the succeeding periods only appeared in the second half of the century. These decades also saw the birth of some new kinds of museums, which were in form and content inspired by another important institution of the time: the great exhibitions. In his paper, Bjarne Stoklund focuses on one of these new types, the so-called folk museums. By taking a closer look at four of the pioneers in this field: the Swede Artur Hazelius, the Dane Bernhard Olsen and the two Germans Rudolf Virchowand Ulrich Jahn, he tries to characterize these museums as situated at the crossroads between scenography and science. The folk museum was a Scandinavian invention that took root also in Central and Eastern Europe, but played a very peripheral role in old colonial powers like Great Britain and France. France did get a museum of that kind, but nearly half a century after the founding of such museums in Scandinavia and Central Europe. Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires was established in 1937, on the initiative of George Henri Rivière, another of the great pioneers in the history of museums. This museum, its long crisis and the final decision to close and remove it, is the point of departure for two articles by Bjarne Rogan on the current situation of ethnological and anthropological museums in Europe. In the first paper he looks at a series of radical changes in the French museum landscape, involving not only the mentioned museum of popular culture, but also two other well-known anthropological museums in Paris. Bjarne Rogan gives a detailed description of these transformations and the associated debates, and he discusses the factors behind. The museum of popular culture is not only geographically removed from Paris to Marseilles, but its whole character has been changed from a national to a transnational institution, with the future name of Le Musée des Civilisation del’Europe et de la Mediterranée. This may be the beginning of a new trend in European museology, and this question is the topic of Bjarne Rogan’s second paper. By taking a comparative look at similar transactions or new creations in Berlin, Brussels and Torino, he discusses the similarities and differences in background, ideology and museological programmes in these new initiatives. The last two articles in this issue of Ethnologia Europaea are concerned with problems of topical interest to European ethnology. With a point of departure in a representative of the category of Russian immigrants classified as "ethnic Germans", Regina Römhild explores the increasing gap between the cultural dynamics of transnationalisation in Germany and the national self-perception of the German society. And Marysia Galbraith has studied a classical topic in a new setting and situation. In her paper she examines reciprocal exchange in today’s Poland, and considers the continuities and changes in uses of gifts, favours and recommendations as state socialism is replaced by market capitalism.