toukokuu 2010

Editorial 2/2010

Susanna Pettersson | english summary

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an art museum? Grand buildings, breathtaking collections and varying special exhibitions? Or maybe new ideas inspired by a visit to an exhibition or an event? All of this, no doubt.

But the idea of an art museum also involves immense and extensive knowledge and proficiency behind each and every exhibition and display. Choices and final decisions depend on the people behind titles and job descriptions. Institutions alone do not create art collections, and exhibitions do not materialise on the walls by themselves, either.

The history of the museum profession is seldom if ever recorded. Everyday museum work is not usually documented, because the camera – as is its custom – only captures highlights and handshakes with guests of honour, or some completely new segment of the public, such as babies playing with colours. In an age of electronic communications we should also pay serious attention to compiling traditional archives so that museum work and the diversity of its projects are documented. Otherwise future generations of scholars will have to make do with nothing but wild guesses as to what happened between the annual reports.

Piecing together the history of the museum profession is important for understanding the field, and we all have a role to play in deepening that knowledge. From a broad perspective, we are talking about a museum history dating back to at least the 19th century that has now become the subject of a veritable boom in research in Finland as well. One of the most significant milestones on this road was the publication of Suomen museohistoria (The History of Finnish Museums) by the Finnish Literature Society. The Finnish National Gallery played a key role in planning and realising this publication in partnership with the Finnish Museums Association, the National Board of Antiquities and the Finnish Museum of Natural History, and with museology studies at the universities of Turku, Jyväskylä and Helsinki.

This is also one way of promoting museum-related research. By knowing the history of our field, we will achieve a better understanding of the present. This will encourage us to make choices with an impact on future museum visitors.

Susanna Pettersson
Head of Development, Development and Community Relations Kehys