Fortidshandtering på museum
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The purpose of this phd-project has been an investigation of numerous ways museums creates connections between the past, present and the future. I have choose to use the constructed Norwegian term “fortidshåndtering”, which could be translated as ways for handle the past or dealing with the past. The term is both used to describe and characterize what museums do with the past. The term is therefore used to embrace different sides of museums practices related to the past. The term dealing with the past is inspired by studies of use of history. In my thesis I argue that dealing with the past is better fit to describe and analyse museum practices as they are complex in a diverse and unique way compared to other public institutions, like schools and universities. The thesis is based on a large material from the three museums Glomdalsmuseet (The Glomdal Museum), Norsk Skogbruksmuseum (The Norwegian Forrest Museum) and Norsk Oljemuseum (The Norwegian Petroleum Museum). These museums were established in 1911, 1954 and 1981, and each of the museums has produced a numerous of sources that can be interpreted as results of different processes of dealing with the past, to day present as texts, collections, exhibitions buildings and more. This is a diverse material which I have tried to analyse as parts of how museums have created or tried to create connection between the past, the present and the future, their interpretation of temporality, stories they have wanted to tell and what kind of perception it was based on. The thesis is therefor about what kind of dealing with the past it is possible to find at the selected museums, what kind of function it has had and what factors that changed them over time. My main questions to the material have been to what extent has the dealing with the past been defined or affected by the institution type museum, or that specific museum? Have the dealing of the past been inspired or based on scientific ways of dealing with the past? And what has different expectations from the society to the museum affected their dealing with the past? Museums are dealing with the past in many ways and to different purposes which are changing over time. At the same time, I would claim that they are types of institutions characterized by their way of creating collections and exhibitions that can be, and often are, defined by selection criteria and perspectives done in the past. Their presentation of and preservation of the past represents therefore something from past the museum has managed to keep for the future, or something one must handle and deal with when new perspectives and stories are added to the museum project. By following the selected museums over a longer time frame and by investigating the different phases that could be read out of this, the thesis has closed in on the mechanism that could be said to have shaped the museums dealing with the past. My analysis shows how similar internal and external factors has been significant at all the three museums, but also how the strength and relationship between the different factors have had different impact in different phases of the institutional history. I have alas not pointed out a common or a singular development of the museums alongside a common historic development of the Norwegian museum sector, all though it is possible to point out tendencies in that direction when it comes to perception of the ideal museum and political defined expectations towards museum in general Museums are often explained and judged based on their formal purpose, practise and scientific orientation related to public interest, scientific institutions and the school sector. The thesis show also connection between museums, academic institutions and educational sector. But I have stressed that dealing with the past have been shaped by far more factors than the public purpose, knowledge created in scientific institutions and educational purposes as they are defined for schools. I claim that dealing with the past at museums are embedded in a complex relationship between the institutions purpose and its openess to a broader society surrounding the museum including many different interests, and that this divides museum more from other public institutions than how it has been understood in the field of use of history. My research on how the three selected museums have been dealing with the past show a complex practise which I have approached through describing and discussing how the have delt with the past, what connection between the past, the present and the future they have created or intended to creat and why and how this have changed over time. When I overall conclude museums dealing with the past to be complex, it is because the different internal and external factors are important for how museums are dealing with the past, but also because they express their ways of dealing with the past in so many different ways and to many purposes.