Museum Practice chap 18: ‘Museum Exhibition Practice: Recent developments in Europe, Canada and Australia,’ by Linda Young with Annie Whitelaw and Rosmarie Beier-de Haan

The next chapter in my new edited collection Museum Practice, due out in July, provides a comparative international survey of museum exhibition practice. Despite the specifics of each locality, there are common developments in the display of permanent galleries as recounted in Linda Young’s Introduction to the chapter. She argues that “tectonic shifts in museum exhibitions” around 2000 reveal changes in knowledge paradigms, socio-political movements, religion and national identity and the tension with the indigenous “nation within”. At the same time as exploring and critiquing aspects of museums from within, these exhibitions show that “the aura of museum authority powerfully endorses its exhibitionary subjects…” Young goes on to recount the revision of permanent displays of Aboriginal culture and history in Australia’s major museums in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as well as the national museum in Canberra.

Spencer in Bunjilaka

Next Anne Whitelaw discusses the transformation of Canadian art history which has been “rewritten’ through new permant hangs in three art museums in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. Lastly, Rosemarie Bier de Haan discusses “transnationality and difficult heritage” as seen in new exhibition practice in German and European museums, highlighting the key exhibitions God(s): A User’s Guide, The Image of the ‘Other’ in Germany and France from 1871 to the present, and Hitler and the Germans.

Fig 19.5

Linda Young trained as a historian and worked as a museum curator in Sydney and Perth before becoming a university lecturer in Canberra and Melbourne, Australia. Since 2005 Linda has been senior lecturer in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is a consultant, critic, a historian of heritage genres and practice, and a student of nineteenth-century Anglo domestic and personal material culture. She has published widely on house museums, suburban archaeology, heritage management, and museum collecting and display.

Rosmarie Beier-de Haan is Director of Collections and Exhibition Curator at the German Historical Museum, Berlin, where she has curated many social and cultural history exhibitions. Rosmarie is also an Honorary Professor of Modern History at the Freie Universität Berlin and at the Technische Universität Berlin. She has been a board member of ICOM, the International Association of History Museums and the Network of European Museums.

Anne Whitelaw is Associate Professor and Graduate Programe Director in the Department of Art History at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her research examines the history of art and cultural institutions in Canada, with a particular focus on practices of exhibition and collecting as a means of understanding the formation of nationhood. She has published extensively on the display of Canadian art at the National Gallery of Canada, on the writings of art historian John Russell Harper, and on the integration of Aboriginal art into the permanent displays of national museums.


About mccartco

Conal McCarthy is a former museum professional and academic who has published widely on museum history, theory and practice. He is the Director of the Museum and heritage studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.
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