Some periods and contexts have; in particular; been conducive to museum-building such as the intensive demand for national museums that followed in the wake of the Napoleonic wars with the creation of national states; justifying autonomy of the state on the basis of national distinctiveness and uniqueness. As a result; regional differences within nations were rearranged in order to fit with such affiliations and promote new loyalties. The notion of a western civilisation and western values were also nationalized in the process of museum making in Europe resulting in different interpretations of universal; national and transnational values and identifications. It is within such contexts; among many; that a study of national museums - as a means of representing high culture; values and national pride - provide illuminating and comparative data on the many related processes of nationalisation.
The aim of the EuNaMus research programme is to to illuminate gaps in existing research by adding a crucial comparative perspective to the study of national museums. We are hereby presenting the first comprehensive overview over national museums in Europe and outline the basis of comparative elements and significant variables. In a comparative light and as a rule; the trajectories of the European national museums provide an account of the parallel interactions between museum; nation and state and give witness to the long standing relevance of national museums as constituent components of what will be analysed as negotiated cultural constitutions. It is through these that nations have expressed a yearning for a golden and legitimate past. Attempting to balance such perceived needs for continuity with the increased diversity and difference of the contemporary world turns the notion of a unified agenda of the future into a challenge.
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