The New Enterprise

Last week I visited Lessebo hand paper mill for a meeting within an art project that I'm a bit involved in during this year. It’s called Residence-in-Nature, and the overall theme is regeneration (by artists) in an area marked by post industrialism. Besides the ten artists several other professionals are engaged in the project – administrators, producers, educators.

Lessebo paper mill

Lisa Rosendahl works with a publication and a conference/seminar. One of the questions she asked us at Lessebo hand paper mill was about the role of the museum in the postindustrial society. During the shift from the agricultural/rural economy to the industrial/urban economy, quite a lot of museums got their structure and their missions (in Sweden e.g. Nordiska museet, Skansen, Biologiska museet). But what will happen to the museums in the shift from the industrial to the postindustrial society?

I'm sure we’re heading an overturn. Some time ago I read a text by Amelie Tham where she discusses audiences and institutions in the field of the arts. She refers to the works of Mark O´Neill, former director for Glasgow Arts and Museums, who in connection with a major restructuring of the museums in Glasgow has made a problematisation on how museums operates. O´Neill speaks about the elite model, the welfare model and the social justice model.

The elite model is about museums strongly anchored in the tradition: collecting of items, cataloging and production of exhibitions. They are run in a hierarchical way. The audience is never discussed and the role of the visitor is to be a receiver.

In the welfare model the elite tendencies are still alive, but at the same time you will find a higher degree of responsiveness to the audience. To some extent, a museum of this kind can run some local, interactive projects, but the core is inside the institution.

The third model focuses on social justice. It demands that the museum notices its role and its responsibility in the society. It investigates the links between the museum and the power structures of the society. The goal is to develop methods that crosses the border and tears down the barrier between the visitor and the museum.

The last model is, according to me, the next step for an updated culture institution of the postindustrial society. The masculine, non-dialogic and self-righteous methods, still used by so many artistic directors, are soon left behind. God bless.


This page was last updated 2016-03-06 by Fredrik Sandblad.