Edited By Kjerstin Aukrust
Part 5:Cultural Value in the Museum
Part 5: Cultural Value in the Museum 253 Collecting Europe: On the Museal Construction of European Objects Stefan Krankenhagen Contemporary museum practices of collecting and handling objects are not consi- dered genuinely European. “We are not collecting with a European perspective”, says Renée E. Kistemaker, former curator of the Amsterdam Historical Museum, in summing up colleagues’ opinions in Europe’s museums.1 No single specifically European collecting strategy can be discerned; it simply does not exist. Indeed, it seems that “the museum pieces in warehouses representing the result of collect- ing within one’s national territory […] do not suffice to visualise Europe and grasp what it is”.2 Nevertheless, European integration does influence museum practice right down to collection policy – but not as a guiding principle dictated by the centres of power in Brussels, Strasbourg, or Maastricht, as claimed in previous essays on European cultural policy – whether from a political science perspective3 or in sociological- anthropological research.4 Instead, insight comes from examining interconnections between present collecting strategies and Europeanisation processes as mutually influential interactions and, as such, a cultural practice of making Europe. Which present collecting strategies are suited, and why, to being part of this Euro- peanisation process? Hence, this paper will also discuss several challenges that must be met in the current dialogue about contemporary collection strategies. The aim is to demonstrate that the discourse about a potential Europeanisation of objects and collections is part of a general movement that seeks to redefine the potentials and qualities of objects and...
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