THE CONTEMPORARY HISTORY MUSEUM AS AN INSTITUTION ACQUIRING, STORING AND RENDERING AVAILABLE HISTORICAL SOURCES FROM THE NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURY
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The article focuses on more than ten questions concerning the titular theme. At the very onset the author noticed that museums, in particular so-called history museums, are for all practical purposes the only institution gathering and on an almost “mass-scale” rendering available a large part of existing sources, thus enabling the researcher to become acquainted with facts and processes from the past and to supplement his knowledge. For this reason, the museums in question are in a better situation than archives and libraries interested chiefly in “written sources”. The primacy of museums in this respect pertains to four types of sources that simultaneously comprise museum exhibits: 1) sources never or only sporadically amassed in libraries and archives, 2) sources important and useful for historians studying select problems (e.g. “small homelands”, the history of local communities, family history, etc.), i.e. information absent in other sources used most often by historians for the purpose of surveys, 3) material culture sources that cannot be found in libraries and archives, and 4) sources serving research dealing with widely comprehended daily life. There are several reasons for these indubitably extensive resources of museums showrooms and storerooms, i.a. first and foremost numerous interpersonal contacts with, e.g. collectors, history lovers, veterans or simply the public - museum visitors. In order to make suitable use of these assets and preserve them for future generations the article presents proposals for the professionalisation and intensification of acquiring, storing, and rendering available valuable albeit, as a rule, insufficiently appreciated historical sources in museums. This process is composed of scientific research conducted in museum institutions as well as contemporary digitization of collections and their suitable display corresponding to the expectations of the public and historians. Just as indispensable for the success of such projects is the professional competence and involvement of the museum staff, an expansion of the base of the social impact of the institutions in question, and the preparation of suitable methods of collaboration with scientific institutions, archives, libraries and individuals (e.g. collectors).
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