Dynamics of Religious Things in Museums: Introduction to a Research Area and a Cooperative Alliance
We are entering an area of public controversy: the field of museums. Our focus is on a topic that is equally the subject of much critical reflection in the academic arena: religious things and how they are handled in museums. Museums are currently receiving a lot of public attention with regard t...
|Published in:||Handling Religious Things. The Material and the Social in Museums (Band 01)|
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|Summary:||We are entering an area of public controversy: the field of museums. Our focus
is on a topic that is equally the subject of much critical reflection in the academic
arena: religious things and how they are handled in museums.
Museums are currently receiving a lot of public attention with regard to the material
objects they host, and the historical and contemporary handling of said objects.
Museums are both places of memory and education, and places of leisure
and tourism. According to TripAdvisor, two of the world’s ten most popular sights
are museums, one of which is closely intertwined with a religious site and institution:
the Vatican Museums, with their papal art collection and the Sistine Chapel
(ranked third in 2019). Overlap and fluid attributions of meaning between religious
places and tourist sites (in this case, museums) are not uncommon, and
become particularly evident in the case of museums run by religious institutions,
such as the Catholic Church in the case of the Vatican Museums.
There are global public debates about the origins, paths, and futures of museum
things/objects. Since at least 2018, with the report on the restitution of African
cultural heritage, which Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy presented to the
French president, the legitimacy of objects from colonial contexts in museums
and collections in the global north has been widely debated around the globe,
both in academia and among the general public. In Germany, this debate has mainly been ignited by the repositioning of the ethnological collections in the
newly established Humboldt Forum in Berlin. But of course, such objects are not
only located in Berlin, and the problem also affects objects of other geographical
|Physical Description:||20 Pages|