In preparation of this project we asked colleagues from different countries for their associations and first reactions to the combination of museums, politics and power.
Here is what they said:
Brings to mind clash/coexistence of values: secrecy, data collection, scholarship, sharing.”
My first thoughts are about funding and how the sources of funding might influence messaging, public presentations, content of exhibitions, and even audience demographics. How can museums (especially those dependent upon government support) be open and representative in a polarized world? Are government-funded institutions mouthpieces of the politicians who shape budget allocations? And how will museums that are funded by a “private elite” really serve a broader public? Is there a workable model of sound funding for museums and the arts, that allows these organizations to really serve a broad audience and have freedom over content and delivery?”
Working on [an international exhibit] was quite interesting considering what topics they did discuss, which I thought were inappropriate, based on their history.”
The Cold War! Also makes me remember visiting the National Museum/Monument of Indonesia in Jakarta years ago, where the version of official history presented was decidedly different than western histories concerning the coup and Suharto…”
I immediately think of the administration and its sluggishness! Always various operating units are involved and cooperation is difficult. This is particularly evident when funds come from the public sector and thus very often can not be used freely. The various museum agencies have different policies. My question would be: To what extent do political guidelines influences the museums and their tasks?”
Makes me think of how political the standards-based curriculum is and how museums have to change their “product” for field trips everyone there is a new gov’t edict.”
What do you picture? What questions do you have? What concerns does it make you think about, either in terms of the individual institution or the bigger picture? Comment away!