Thinking outside the box – Museum of Contemporary Phenomena and Open Works

Does it fit a museum to give voice to the words and thoughts of other players besides the Curator and the Creator? Or when it makes others’ perspectives visible and accessible in its own space and surfaces in an autonomous way? Does such an approach require a different kind of methodology, and can the social museums learn from the art scene, or from their own former research practices to realize such aims? Whenever the museum’s audience appear in the museum not only as visitors, but also as players, partners and authors, that can reshape the space and thoughts in a uniquely exciting way, creating new and different readings, the understanding of which requires different perspectives as well. Such a way of working, inviting the audience to cooperate, has been long existing in the research and exhibition practice of the Museum of Ethnography. Yet, in these research and exhibition works based on participation and cooperation, different practices, points of perspective, as well as a different awareness manifested, the critical analysis of which may bring forth a pattern that would enable the foundation of genuine methodological research. The present volume of the journal Replika has issued a circular question on the significance of cooperation between professionals and “laics”: one possible answer of the museum would be the merits of working together, where not fields of expertise, but differing ranges of knowledge are brought together, where the presupposed professional-laic separation basically melts away. I answered the question by portraying practices and examples which clearly show that the critical approach to one’s own practice is the most important step to develop a methodological framework. The present essay is based on a book still in process, and an exhibition work already on display, yet I also reach back to such institutional predecessors that shaped the conception of the present research.

Released: Replika 100, 77–83.