On the occasion of its 20th birthday the MEK - Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin hosts the conference “What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe”. The conference focuses on blank spots: Which objects, narratives, methods and actors have not been paid any (or enough) attention to and are missing in our museum reflections on contemporary daily lives and societies in Europe?

Numerous European collections and museums with objects of everyday life are going through processes of transformation – from historical folklore, national and sometimes ethnically oriented to contemporary, European and transculturally designed institutions. In this process, the historical collections are both a blessing and a curse: They form the basis of existence for these museum types - but the collections themselves and/or their ´traditional` narrative framings do not sufficiently represent current social developments or complex pasts. How can these museums adequately account for new socio-political contexts, especially against the background of present theoretical debates, which conceptualize things, actors, spaces and routes as closely entangled? In addition, the political “European project” is being increasingly called into question and conflicting ideas about European identity/identities and cultural heritage are being strongly communicated in many arenas. What social role do museums - and especially the (former) folklore museums - want to play in these debates of Europe in transition? How can a re-interpretation and contemporization of collections and exhibitions through (post-)migratory, queer, decolonial, fugitive, dis/abled or other marginalized lenses be established in mainstream museum work?

“What’s Missing?” would like to provide a platform for museum practitioners and theoreticians, fostering exchange about identifying, challenging and including blank spots in the practices of museums who strive for a reflexive and critical “Europeanisation”.

Deadline for registration: June, 20th, 2019 via mek[at]smb.spk-berlin.de
Conference fee (to be paid upon location): 20 € regular / 10 € reduced for students, trainees and job-seekers
Location: The conference takes place at the Dahlem Museums (including Museum Europäischer Kulturen – MEK): the day programme will be held at the lecture hall (entrance: Lansstraße 8); the evening events (keynote; tours; archive of forgotten memories; conference barbecue) will be held at the MEK (entrance: Arnimallee 25). Please see conference programme (long version) for details.

The conference is funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Verein der Freunde des Museums Europäischer Kulturen e.V. (Association of Friends and Sponsors of the MEK) and Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.


Wednesday, 26th June 2019

6:00 p.m. Evening Lecture

  • ‘What’s Missing? Sticking to the Margins’
    Suay Aksoy (President of ICOM – International Council of Museums, Paris)

7:00 p.m. Reception


Thursday, 27th June 2019

9:00 a.m. Registration & Coffee

10:00 a.m. Conference Opening

  • Welcome
    Christina Haak (Deputy Director General - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin SMB)
  • 20 years of MEK - Goals Reached?
    Elisabeth Tietmeyer (Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
  • Towards New Filters and Relations. Introducing the Programme
    Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

10:30 a.m. Panel I ‘Global Europe’
Chair: Judith Schühle (Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

  • Re/presenting the European
    Gerald McMaster, OC (OCAD University, Toronto)
  • Ontology of Objects: The Political Economy of Our Common Colonial Heritage
    Imani Tafari-Ama (University of the West Indies, Kingston)
  • Exhibiting Europe in an Ethnological Museum in Japan; Rethinking the Opposition between the Self and Others
    Akiko Mori (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)
  • Treasures from Home: European Identity in US Collections
    Diana Pardue (Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, New York)

12:00 Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. Panel II ‘Towards the Transformation of Collections of Everyday Culture’
Chair: Magda Buchczyk (Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

  • Collecting = Communicating
    Matthias Beitl (Volkskundemuseum Wien)
  • Between the Collection of ‘Traditional Folk Culture’ and the Challenges of Collecting and Presenting Contemporary Everyday Life. Current Dilemmas of Ethnographic Museums
    Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz (Ethnografic Museum, Kraków)
  • Collecting Contemporary Items to Study and Exhibit Social Issues: Experiences of the MuCEM, Marseille, France
    Denis Chevallier (MuCEM – Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, Marseille)
  • Ládjogahpir rematriated – The Sámi Ontology of a Museum Object
    Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (University of Oulu)

2:30 p.m. Coffee Break

3:00 p.m. Talk ‘Our Heymat! Your Museum? Why Diversity and Social justice is Our Common Future’
Ferda Ataman (Freelance Journalist, Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Susan Kamel (HTW – Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin)

4:00 p.m. Tours at Museum Europäischer Kulturen

  • A queer tour of the MEK
  • The permanent exhibition ‘Cultural Contacts: Living in Europe’
  • The temporary exhibition ‘100 Percent Wool’
  • The temporary exhibition ‘Wedding Dreams’

4:00 p.m. One-Stop-Shop Archive of Forgotten Memories
Inge Zwart (University of Uppsala), Franziska Mucha (University of Glasgow), Cassy Kist (University of Glasgow) on behalf of POEM (EU H2020)

6:00 p.m. Conference Barbecue


Friday, 28th June 2019

10:00 a.m. Panel III ‘Methods & Structures’
Chair: Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

  • Museums for Equality
    Richard Sandell, OC (University of Leicester)
  • Awkward Objects of Genocide: Multidisciplinary Collaborative Research and Curating with Difficult Heritage
    Erica Lehrer (Concordia University, Montreal)
  • »I am not a black artist, I am an artist«. Identity Politics and Curatorial Practice
    Mahret Ifeoma Kupka (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main)
  • Absences and Silences in Greek Museums; Tracing the Gaps in Stories not Told
    Marlen Mouliou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

11:30 a.m. Coffee Break

12:00 Panel IV ‘Exhibiting Europe?’
Chair: Brigitte Heck (Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe)

  • The Impossibility of “Blank Spot Europe”
    Anna Schmid (Museum der Kulturen Basel)
  • Mind the Gap(s)! - The Challenges of Delineating a Narrative at the House of European History
    Kieran Burns (House of European History, Bruxelles)
  • The Longue Durée Structures of the Hungarian Politics of Memory
    Kárla Kuti (Hungarian National Museum, Budapest)
  • Cross-Border Exhibitions to Reflect and Overcome National Forming
    Markus Moehring (Three-Countries-Museum Lörrach)

1:30 p.m. Lunch Break

2:30 p.m. Reflections & Final Discussion
Impuls & Chair: Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe – Conference 26 - 28th June 2019


Offers for: Adults
Date: Wed 26.06.2019 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: Museum Europäischer Kulturen
Meeting point: Museen Dahlem, Lansstraße 8, 14195 Berlin
Price: Conference fee: 20 € regular / 10 € reduced
Registration: booking/prior registration essential
Exhibitions: Museum of European CulturesCultural Contacts. Living in Europe
Collection: Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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