Here is a brief introduction to the issues discussed at the Open Museum 2021 Conference.
Open Museum – An Introduction by Gladys Vercammen-Grandjean
What is Open Museum? What are the plans for 2021?
Open Museum – An Introduction by Co-Curators Anne Wetsi Mpoma and Jessica Gysel
The concept of safe spaces and the critical questions to ask.
Healing the Museum – A Meditative Performance by Grace Ndiritu
Grace Ndiritu invites us to get into the right mindset to tackle the issues that will be raised during the conference. In 2012, Ndiritu went to live in a series of rural, alternative communities, expanding an ongoing body of research into non-rational methodologies, New Age nomadic lifestyles, and shamanism. This research developed into a body of work entitled Healing the Museum which sought to re-activate the sacredness of art spaces and restore a meaningful relationship between museums and their audiences.
Re-imagining Collections: How to Feminize and Decolonize Museum Collections? A Talk between Anne Wetsi Mpoma and Pascale Obolo
A discussion on how to feminize a collection and produce counter narratives based on the professional experiences of decolonial thinkers and activists Pascale Obolo (Afrikadaa Review, Museum On/Off – Musée ont l’eux) and Anne Wetsi Mpoma (Wetsi Art Gallery, Essay Decolonize arts and culture in a postcolonial context in Being Imposed Upon). The two speakers will also present the exhibition project Through Her (True Her), which attempts to respond to these issues on the relationship between racialized audiences, artists, and museums.
Re-imagining Practices: Queering the Museum by Claire Mead
What is a queer practice within a museum and its archives, in terms of representation and working with LGBTQI+ communities? How do we reinvent the ways we share these stories and identities, to bring forward feminist, lesbian, and trans voices that are often forgotten by cultural institutions? Claire Mead presents these experiences and the obstacles that remain to be overcome as a queer curator and activist.
Re-imagining Archives: Belgian Black Archives by Aminata Ndow & Olga Briard (Black History Month Belgium)
In 2021, Black History Month Belgium will be all about archiving and documenting the past and present of black people in Belgium. The goal is to work towards the creation of a black community-driven and controlled archive that will collect documentary, audiovisual, digital, material, and artistic works related to the black diaspora in Belgium. Their mission is to actively provide materials that express and represent the black experience in Belgium, both past and present, from the black perspective. The ultimate goal is to gain a more complete understanding of the black experience in Belgium through primary sources and to provide information that supports the construction of personal and community identities as well as the social life and shared memories of black communities in Belgium.
The month of March serves as a laboratory for what a Belgian Black Archives could look like. By both thinking about new ways of archiving and diving into the existing archives. Archives that have often emerged within a white, Eurocentric framework and would particularly benefit from being viewed through a black lens.
Re-imagining Structures: Inclusion in Museum DNA by Aspha Bijnaar (Musea Bekennen Kleur, Netherlands)
In March 2020, the Musea Bekennen Kleur (Museums See Color) partnership was launched during the opening of the exhibition Black in Rembrandt’s Time in the Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam. Musea Bekennen Kleur is the first platform in the museum world where museums can enter in-depth dialogues with each other on the question of how to jointly realize diversity and inclusion. The aim is to sustainably unite museums in their efforts to truly embed diversity and inclusion in their DNA. They do this by focusing on the four Ps (Program, Public, Personnel, and Partners) with room for the exchange of knowledge and (self-)reflection. At Musea Bekennen Kleur, the participating museums aim to strengthen their efforts together.
Re-imagining Heritage: Emotion Networking by Hester Dibbits (Reinwardt Academie Heritage Lab, Netherlands)
Emotion networking is a method of discussion or negotiation aimed at understanding others and alternative views – rather than coming to a jointly shared conclusion or compromise. Emotion networking originated in the practice of heritage work: if heritage tells us who we are and who we want to be, then everyone should have a voice in what that means. Emotion networking around heritage items leads to heritage wisdom. The meaning we attach to objects (tangible or intangible) is fluid and can take many forms over time. Heritage wisdom recognizes that heritage is not a given, but a choice. That choice is the temporary result of negotiation, of a conversation in which ideally everyone can participate. Emotion networking and heritage wisdom are competences that come in handy in debates on identity and identification. They work against fragmentation and for connection.