Article | Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums: Conference Proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Paris 28 June – 1 July & 25–26 November 2011 | Four narrative perspectives on Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum

Title:
Four narrative perspectives on Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum
Author:
Pascale Meyer: Swiss National Museum, Zurich, Switzerland
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Full text (pdf)
Year:
2012
Conference:
Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums: Conference Proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Paris 28 June – 1 July & 25–26 November 2011
Issue:
078
Article no.:
032
Pages:
519-530
No. of pages:
12
Publication type:
Abstract and Fulltext
Published:
2012-10-30
Series:
Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
ISSN (print):
1650-3686
ISSN (online):
1650-3740
Publisher:
Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet


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In 2009; the Swiss National Museum in Zurich chose a new approach for its permanent exhibition; and made a thematic narrative – based on four major research areas of contemporary historiography – the centre of its exhibition rooms. Underpinning this concept was the realisation that the main focus of contemporary research must be reflected in the presentation of history; even if it is in a constant process of change and reformulation. The collection of objects in the National Museum’s possession reflects earlier areas of research into Switzerland’s cultural history. The second new permanent exhibition; the ‘Collections Gallery’ reflects this emphasis on collecting; and shows the outstanding pieces in a display that is solely focused on the objects.

In contrast; the permanent exhibition on Swiss history had to find new ways of presentation; since the National Museum’s collections have gaps in the areas of political and economic history; as well as in contemporary history. And yet; a new narrative of Swiss history must offer visitors precisely these links between outstanding objects of cultural history and the narrative of a national history; which addresses themes that are not shown in the collection. The four chapters of Swiss history are structured chronologically and enable the historical study of the settlement; religious; political and economic history of Switzerland – from the pre-Christian era to the 21st century. The objects in the collection have now been given ‘a new mediality’ in the nation’s venerable ‘Hall of Fame’. The modernity of the scenography; the presentations and arrangements of the objects break with the earlier presentation of political history which was characterized by the depiction of military victories. It now takes the visitor along a path – which can be physically followed – to consensual Swiss democracy and thus makes a contribution to the contemporary understanding of political developments in Switzerland. The other rooms give visitors a picture of Switzerland that is shaped by immigration and emigration; by religious conflicts and splits; by its political system based on consensus as well as early economic successes. The narrative strand links transformational processes with the great ruptures in history; and thus places itself entirely at the service of historical learning; one of the most important tasks of a history museum.

Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums: Conference Proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Paris 28 June – 1 July & 25–26 November 2011

Author:
Pascale Meyer
Title:
Four narrative perspectives on Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum
References:

Jannelli; A. and T. Hammacher; (2008) Das Museums als Erfahrungsraum. Ausstellungen als performative Räume; in: Szenografie in Ausstellungen und Museen III. Hg. Kilger; G. / Müller-Kulhlmann W.; Essen.


Lepenies; A.; (2003) Wissen vermitteln im Museum; in: Schriften des Deutschen Hygiene – Museums Dresden. Köln


Sommer-Sieghart; M; (2009) (Kultur)historische Museen als gegenwartsrelevanteDiskursräume; in: Storyline. Narrationen im Museum. Hg. Von Charlotte Martinz-Turek; Monika Sommer; Wien.

Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums: Conference Proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Paris 28 June – 1 July & 25–26 November 2011

Author:
Pascale Meyer
Title:
Four narrative perspectives on Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum
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