Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Limits of Open Museography


In fairness, no discussion of Open Museography can avoid acknowledging the potential pitfalls of any public discussion of contentious topics. I am sure we can all think of ‘hot button’ topics on which the differing parties are deeply committed to irreconcilable points of view.  

In Rwanda, the constitution makes it a crime to question the government's version of the genocide. That is, of course, pretty raw history, but then, in the United States, the two words “Enola Gay” are enough to send most curators scurrying for cover. 

Unfortunately, the playground rule that "your right to swing your fist ends where my personal space begins" doesn't translate quite so smoothly into the realm of narrative. We can't simply say "Your right to tell a story ends where my story begins." And yet, silence is not a solution. Peaceful coexistence depends upon dialog and reconciliation. 

Perhaps what Cicero said of advice holds also for exhibitions: they are judged by results, not by intentions.

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