THE INSTITUTION OF MUSEUM, MUSEUM PRACTICE AND EXHIBITS WITHIN THE THEORY OF POSTCOLONIALISM – PRELIMINARY RESEARCH
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The article contributes to considerations on the exhibits of colonial origin that exist in Western culture, and on the institution of museum with regard to the terms of postcolonial theory. Moreover, it addresses practical issues concerning museum’s policy towards artefacts of non- European origin. I referred to the basic concepts used in the theory of postcolonialism, such as: otherness, hybridity, mimicry, the Third Space, and to the interpretation of collectibles – “semiophores” (carriers of meaning) – as named by Krzysztof Pomian. I presented issues related to museum exhibitions, and the existence of museums in countries affected by colonialism, using the examples of: the return of Maori heads (mokomokai) from French museums to New Zealand, permanent exhibitions of the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, activities of the AfricaMuseum in Tervuren, and the temporary exhibition in Berlin – “Deutscher Kolonialismus: Fragmente seiner Geschichte und Gegenwart” from 2017. The problems that have been examined reveal the hybrid structure of “semiophores” coming from outside Europe, which makes both their reception by the viewer and the way of their presentation by the museum difficult. The article helps to realise that displaying the “otherness” of the non- European cultures is quite a challenge for curators, similarly as the concept of such institution like museum must be for these cultures. This results in creation by the museum of the so-called Third Space. The soonest research should give an answer to the question asked by Professor Maria Poprzęcka: To what extent history of art co-created the massive structure of cultural supremacy and intellectual and artistic domination, which found its institutional and material form in museums that were being erected all over the world.
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