Curator – Alisa Maximova
From dusty old curiosity cabinets to vibrant public places, museums play a great role in culture. They become community centres and places for dialogue and experiments, they create and represent identities, truths, and stories, and, for instance, turn graffiti into art or demonstrate science through interactive objects. Our research aims at studying museums as spaces for participation, learning, and sociability. We are interested in the changing perception of the audiences and their involvement in cultural institutions. We try to understand what visitors bring to the exhibition space: how they interact with each other and with the exhibits, how they interpret messages that curators try to convey, how they co-construct meanings and tell their own stories in their own ways. Changing world outside of the museum also contributes to new cultural phenomena: for example, our work deals with social media and with technology in general that affect cultural meanings and practices of museum audiences. Finally, there are certain topics in Museum Studies that are especially relevant for contemporary Russian culture. These concern memory and the past. In the projects of the Centre, special attention was paid to museums of local history in Russian cities and towns. We study what these museums are like, taking into account that they largely inherit soviet materialities and ways of exhibiting the world, yet some initiate new projects that engage local community, focus on traumatic past, of have the potential to promote the place as a tourist attraction. These multiple narratives and logics, along with the respective social, cultural, and political contexts, ask for close examination and analysis.