Time: 16.10.–17.10.2015 
Place: Volkskundemuseum, Laudongasse 15–19, 1080 Wien

Where questions of museum ethics are concerned, debates generally revolve around the treatment of human remains or the wrongful appropriation of cultural artefacts in the context of oppressive regimes. This is why natural history, anthropological and ethnographic museums tend to be the most frequent foci of criticism. However, the issue is not just about museums possessing sensitive collections but also embraces how items are exhibited. Surrounded by the ethos of the privileged museological eye, curators are faced with a problem: how can museums escape the dilemma of having to exhibit topics without falling foul of representations that constitute a repetition, so to speak, of the original act of violence?

This conference will provide a forum for discussing, alongside obvious forms of violence, the epistemological violence exercised by museums, evident in hegemonic forms of museological knowledge production. Ethical considerations do not just come into play with the subjugation of bodies and the appropriation of objects, but are pertinent already at the level of the scientific and ideological concepts on which the institute of the museum is founded and which inform day-to-day museum practice. 

A discussion of ethical questions – following the Anglo-American school of thought – is more about promoting a discursive, process-orientated approach to cultural heritage than it is about developing guidelines. Hence, conference participants will also be given the opportunity to discuss concrete issues in the context of a “museum laboratory” in the photography collection of the Volkskundemuseum.  

Programme  |  Abstracts

Regina Wonisch

Cooperation: Institut für Wissenschaftskommunikation und Hochschulforschung der Universität Klagenfurt, Institution für Wissenschaft und Kunst (IWK), Forschungszentrum für historische Minderheiten (FZHM), Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde