What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

On the occasion of its 20th birthday the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (MEK) hosts the conference “What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe”. The conference focuses on blank spots: which objects, narratives, methods and actors have not been paid any (or enough) attention to and are missing in our museum reflections on contemporary daily lives and societies in Europe?

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  • Was Konferenz | TagungWhat’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Wann bis (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Wo Location: Berlin-Dahlem Museum Centre, Lansstraße 8, 14195 Berlin
  • Anmeldung bis 11.06.2019
  • Termin herunterladen iCal Datei herunterladen


Numerous European collections and museums with objects of everyday life are going through processes of transformation – from historical folklore, national and sometimes ethnically oriented to contemporary, European and transculturally designed institutions. In this process, the historical collections are both a blessing and a curse: they form the basis of existence for these museum types but the collections themselves and/or their historical narrative framings do not sufficiently represent current social developments or complex pasts. How can these museums adequately account for new socio-political contexts, especially against the background of present theoretical debates, which conceptualize things, actors, spaces and routes as closely entangled? In addition, the political “European project” is being increasingly called into question and conflicting ideas about European identity/identities and cultural heritage are strongly communicated in many arenas. What social role do museums – and especially the (former) folklore museums – want to play in these debates of Europe in transition? How can a reinterpretation and contemporisation of collections and exhibitions through (post)migratory, queer, decolonial, fugitive, dis/abled or other marginalized lenses be established in mainstream museum work?

“What’s Missing?” would like to provide a platform for museum practitioners and theoreticians, fostering exchange about identifying, challenging and including blank spots in the practices of museums who strive for a reflexive and critical “Europeanisation”.

Deadline for registration: June, 10th, 2019 via mek@smb.spk-berlin.de

Conference fee (to be paid on location): 20 € regular/10 € reduced for students, trainees and job-seekers

Convenors: Iris Edenheiser, Elisabeth Tietmeyer

The conference is funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Verein der Freunde des Museums Europäischer Kulturen e.V. (Association of Friends and Sponsors of the MEK), museum & location and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

Conference Programme (in short)

Wednesday, 26th June 2019

18:00 Evening Lecture ‘What’s Missing? Sticking to the Margins’

Suay Aksoy (President of ICOM – International Council of Museums, Paris)

19:00 Reception

Thursday, 27th June 2019

9:00-10:00 Registration & Coffee

10:00-10:30 Conference Opening


Christina Haak (Deputy Director General, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

20 years of MEK – Goals Reached?

Elisabeth Tietmeyer (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

What’s Missing? Listening & the Museum

Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

10:30-12:00 Panel I ‘Global Europe’

Chair: Judith Schühle (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Re/presenting the European

Gerald McMaster (OCAD University, Toronto)

Ontology of Objects: The Political Economy of Our Common Colonial Heritage

Imani Tafari-Ama (University of the West Indies, Kingston)

Exhibiting Europe in an Ethnological Museum in Japan; Rethinking the Opposition between the Self and Others

Akiko Mori (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)

Treasures from Home: European Identity in US Collections

Diana Pardue (Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, New York)

12:00-13:00 Lunch Break

13:00-14:30 Panel II ‘Towards the Transformation of Collections of Everyday Culture’

Chair: Magda Buchczyk (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Collecting = Communicating

Matthias Beitl (Volkskundemuseum Wien)

Between the Collection of ‘Traditional Folk Culture’ and the Challenges of Collecting and Presenting Contemporary Everyday Life. Current Dilemmas of Ethnographic Museums

Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz (Ethnographic Museum, Kraków)

Collecting Contemporary Items to Study and Exhibit Social Issues: Experiences of the MuCEM, Marseille, France

Denis Chevallier (MuCEM – Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, Marseille)

14:30-15:00 Coffee Break

15:00-16:00 Talk ‘Our Heymat! Your Museum? Why Diversity and Social Justice is Our Common Future’

Ferda Ataman (Freelance Journalist, Berlin)

Susan Kamel (University of Applied Sciences – HTW Berlin)

16:00-18:00 Tours at Museum Europäischer Kulturen

A queer tour of the MEK

The permanent exhibition ‘Cultural Contacts: Living in Europe’

The temporary exhibition ‘100 Percent Wool’

The temporary exhibition ‘Wedding Dreams’

16:00-18:00 One-Stop-Shop Archive of Forgotten Memories

Inge Zwart (University of Uppsala), Franziska Mucha (University of Glasgow) and Susanne Boersma (University of Hamburg / Museum Europäischer Kulturen)

18:00 Conference Barbecue

Friday, 28th June 2019

10:00-11:30 Panel III ‘Methods & Structures’

Chair: Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Museums for Equality

Richard Sandell (University of Leicester)

Awkward Objects of Genocide: Multidisciplinary Collaborative Research and Curating with Difficult Heritage

Erica Lehrer (Concordia University, Montreal)

Ládjogahpir rematriated – The Sámi Ontology of a Museum Object

Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (University of Oulu)

Absences and Silences in Greek Museums; Tracing the Gaps in Stories not Told

Marlen Mouliou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

11:30-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-13:30 Panel IV ‘Exhibiting Europe?’

Chair: Brigitte Heck (Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe)

The Impossibility of “Blank Spot Europe”

Anna Schmid (Museum der Kulturen Basel)

Mind the Gap(s)! - The Challenges of Delineating a Narrative at the House of European History

Kieran Burns (House of European History, Brussels)

The Longue Durée Structures of the Hungarian Politics of Memory

Kárla Kuti (Hungarian National Museum, Budapest)

Cross-Border Exhibitions to Reflect and Overcome National Forming

Markus Moehring (Three-Countries-Museum Lörrach)

13:30-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30-15:30 Reflections & Final Discussion

Impuls & Chair: Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Anmeldung bei

mek[ at ]smb.spk-berlin.de

Nähere Informationen

Iris Edenheiser, Elisabeth Tietmeyer

mek[ at ]smb.spk-berlin.de