Musems, Collections and Society | Yearbook 2020
In this Yearbook you will find some fascinating examples of what was done in 2021, not only by ourselves, but also by our international colleagues.
- Holly O'Farrel and Pieter ter Keurs
- 15 november 2021
In 2019 the College van Bestuur (Executive Board) of Leiden University decided to invest in a four-year program on Museums, Collection and Society (MCS). The MCS program aims at stimulating collection-based research, in an interdisciplinary way.
In the city of Leiden extensive and sometimes extremely rare collections are being kept, in the museums as well as at the University. This unique situation justifies special attention for research, use and outreach related to collections. Combined with the museums in The Hague the region offers an enormous richness of fascinating cultural expressions, including complicated ethical dimensions.
Museums and collections are often frontpage news nowadays. The collections stored and curated in museums, universities and private institutions are no longer seen as ‘neutral’ entities to be enjoyed without political connotations. There are now intensive discussions in the press, on social media, with various stakeholders about who owns the collections, where should they be stored or exhibited, how should they be stored or exhibited, who can claim an emotional relationship with the collections and who can claim an exclusive role in appropriating collections thus excluding others.
These issues are central to museum-related discussions and they show that there is an intensive relationship between objects and people, not only in terms of contestation, but also in regular daily life, in the construction of identities and in terms of agency. What happens when you enjoy seeing an object, or when you are impressed by it? These types of questions demand the involvement of various disciplines: archaeology, anthropology, art history, history, sociology, psychology and of course a science-based approach.
The entanglement of objects and subjects is the central theme in the MCS program and museums and collections are the laboratories and the sources we work with.