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Museums and Society: Mapping the Social

Case Study: Museums as experiential and affective spaces.

Museums and Society: Mapping the Social is a joint project run by a number of universities and museums in Berlin. It explores museums as ever-changing social spaces. The Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Institut für Museumsforschung of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin and the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin are all working together on the project.

The project is part of the Grand Challenge “Social Cohesion” launched by the Berlin University Alliance. Thinking social cohesion and museums together raises three key questions: To what extent does the museum as a space and institution shape the social? Which forms of inclusion and exclusion do museums effect? And how can collections and knowledge be made more accessible in a sustainable fashion?

The project is interdisciplinary in nature and combines historical perspectives with empirical case studies and practical interventions. Four closely related case studies examine 1. museums as experiment and laboratory, 2. museums as experiential and affective spaces, 3. the interconnections between museums and their environment, and 4. the dissolution of boundaries in museum spaces through digitalisation. The case studies are being carried out at the four collaborating institutions, with the Institut für Museumsforschung in charge of case study 2.

The social role of museums is currently the subject of much debate. With our research, we want to contribute to these debates and lay the foundations in Berlin for a new joint research centre, where both universities and museums can work on this topic.

We are committed to open and self-critical research ethics. This includes anti-racist training, the cultivation of diverse knowledge resources, evaluation processes by a citizens’ advisory board, and participatory and inclusive formats of research-led teaching. The outcomes of the project will be made accessible through an interactive communication platform.ur project builds on local and international collaborations.  We are open to new collaborations and would be happy to hear from interested parties.


Research team: TBA, Kathrin Grotz, Dr Patricia Rahemipour (PI)
Cooperation partners: Institut für Kunstwissenschaft at the Technische Universität Berlin (Prof Dr Benedicte Savoy, Prof Dr Meike Hopp, Dr Andrea Meyer, Dr Lukas Fuchsgruber, Dr Mareike Vennen), Institut für Europäische Ethnologie at Humboldt-Universität (Prof Dr Tahani Nadim), Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Dr Ina Heumann).
Funded by: Berlin University Alliance (BUA) – Grand Challenge Exploration Project
Duration: October 2020 to December 2023
Project website: TBA