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A House of Commons? Symbolic Excavations of a Museum cum Villa cum Tombstone

Chapter in book
Authors Michael Landzelius
Published in Glyfer och arkeologiska rum — en vänbok till Jarl Nordbladh
Pages 569-591
ISBN 91-85952-21-4
Publisher Göteborg University
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 1999
Published at Department of Environmental Science and Conservation, Conservation
Pages 569-591
Language en
Keywords social space, flaneur, memory, heritage, museum studies
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified, History and Archaeology, Cultural Studies

Abstract

The article is a symbolic excavation of the Vänersborg Museum, located in the town of Vänersborg, Sweden. The museum opened in 1891 and re-opened as a ‘museum of museum history’ a hundred years later. Through a theorized recontextualization, the museum is displayed as a polysemic spatio-patriarchal marker for the rich donor on par with the buildings of the national state and church; as a token of a private villa; and as a public museum. In this multi-layered object, the practice of bourgeois flânerie in the central part of town is repeated by the gazing flâneur in the museum exhibits. The spatialized elevation of the museum function and of the individual donor and practices of his class are related to possible effects on the asymmetries of museum practices with regard to the ‘social’ other within the local context, and with regard to the framing of the colonized ‘cultural’ other exhibited and domesticated in the museum. The article suggests that forgotten and repressed effects and meanings should be unveiled in a ‘museum of museum history’ in a politicized effort to understand the role of the museum in producing social inequalities and racialized prejudices in Sweden, past and present.

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