Museums shape society while simultaneously being shaped by society. Museums enrapture and excite us – they are popular places: each year, 114 million people visit one of the roughly 6,700 museums in Germany alone. At the same time, museums, as central institutions of western modernity, have relied from the outset on differentiating between inside and outside, metropolis and periphery, rich and poor, desired and undesired perspectives.
Current discussions about restitution, participatory museum concepts, and digitzation are raising renewed questions on the social role and political responsibilities of museums. Can museums foster social cohesion? Which voices and perspectives are privileged, and who and what are excluded, marginalized, or silenced? How should museums and their collections be opened up in the long term?
We are examining these questions in our joint interdisciplinary project “Museums and Society – Mapping the Social,” funded by the Berlin University Alliance. We critically reflect on social cohesion and social exclusion as some of the challenges of the present, with museums as places and actors at the center of controversial social debates. Our team consists of Berlin-based scholars from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, and the Institut für Museumsforschung. In four case studies, we are examining digital image worlds, emotions, environments, and experimentalization – topics that shape the relationships between museums and society.
Our project focuses on transdisciplinary, international collaboration and networking, which is why we would be delighted for you to get in contact with us!