Symposion | Museum and Migration

18.-20. november 2010


Forschungszentrum für historische Minderheiten (FZHM) 
Institut für Wissenschaft und Kunst (IWK)
Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde (ÖMV)

in cooperation with the Museumsbund Österreich

Austrian Museum of European Ethnology  (Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde)

In view of growing globalisation, migratory movements have escalated to a socio-political issue of explosive force. A recent trend, however, has opened up a new vista: to see cultural diversity not only as a problem but also as an opportunity for a potential enrichment of society. In addition to the established interpretations of migration as either an asset or a threat, the discussion is being enhanced by the argument of reading this phenomenon as a central feature of urban development.


Against this background and in the face of the migrants unequivocal claim for recognition of their history and traditions, numerous exhibitions, especially in Anglo-American countries, have focussed on the subject of migration. At the same time, a new type of museum has emerged: the migration museum. The emphasis may be on different aspects – immigration or emigration, flight or displacement may be given thematic priority. The significance attributed to the "migration topic" within the museum and exhibition landscape will also be influenced by the self-definition of a given society either as a country of immigration – as for example the USACanadaand Australia – or as a "homogeneous cultural community".


One of the targets of migration museums and exhibitions is the presentation of "marginal narratives" in such a way as to visualise and appreciate them on a symbolic level. In this process, it is not always easy to evade the codification of common stereotypes. The question is therefore how to break up the static correlation of majority versus minority cultures in favour of trans-cultural and trans-national perspectives. Given an asymmetrical balance of power, competing memories will always form zones of conflict.


The Symposium is concerned with an international comparison of the variegated approach to presenting migratory histories in the museum. A panel discussion will concentrate on the cultural and political implications for the Austrian museum and exhibition scene. In a workshop, held in conjunction with the Symposium, the exhibition design of the Austrian Museum of European Ethnology (Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde) will be questioned as to the forms of cultural transfer manifested therein and as to the attributions made to one s own social and cultural background vis-à-vis those accorded to foreign cultural heritage.



Joachim BAUR (Berlin) 

Anja DAUSCHEK (Stadtmuseum Stuttgart) 

Aytac ERYILMAZ (DOMiD - Dokumentationszentrum und Museum über die Migration in Deutschland, Köln)

Christiane HINTERMANN (Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Europäische Geschichte und Öffentlichkeit, Wien) 

Cornelia KOGOJ (Initiative Minderheiten, Wien)

Rainer OHLIGER (Netzwerk Migration in Europa, Berlin) 

Gamze ONGAN (Initiative Minderheiten, Wien)

Robin OSTOW (Kanada) 

Ute SPERRFECHTER (Cité Nationale de l Histoire de l Immigration, Paris)