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Problematics of Democratizing Curatorial Power in the Royal Museum for Central Africa's Online Collection

Hannah Kiefer ; samostalna istraživačica, Richmond, SAD

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 2.879 Kb


str. 124-137

preuzimanja: 402



What do a nineteenth-century ethnographic exhibit and a twenty-first-century museum website tool have in common? More than one might expect. Belgium’s 1897 International Exposition included a colonial exposition that displayed panoplies and dioramas of items taken under colonial violence in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These objects came to form the initial collection for Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa, an institution that has in recent years underwent a period of renovation and expansion (reopening in 2018) with the aim of revisiting its history and displays. To create engagement with the museum, its website has offered a feature that allows visitors to curate virtual image boards of objects from the collection, with resulting effects semantically linked to the 1897 Brussels exposition. This online tool, while stemming from an admirable impulse to share curatorial control, falls short by juxtaposing items that tell of traumatic histories with no criticality or contextualizing information. Analyses of visual configurations of this tool, along with comparative examinations of the 1897 displays, offer evidence for this argument, as well as an example of how collections that represent painful histories call for especially thoughtful design of digital, publicfacing tools.

Ključne riječi

digital curation; Belgian Congo; world’s fair; museum community engagement; panoply display; colonial ethnography

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: hrvatski

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