Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Anti-Colonial Museum and the Practice of Reconciliation

Anti-Colonial Museum and the Practice of Reconciliation_Shengeliya_course


Course Schedule:

F23 Sept 18 Nov 13 | Mon 5:50 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)

Professor: Vera Shengeliya
Semester: Fall 2023
Course Level: 300
Number of Bard Credits: 1
Course Title: Anti-Colonial Museum and the Practice of Reconciliation
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: 10 weeks (September 18 – November 13), Monday 5:50 – 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)
Distribution Area: no
Program: Human Rights
Cross-Listing(s): Art History
Language of Instruction: Russian

The main question of this course is how a museum fights its colonial background, engages communities, and helps them to overcome trauma. We will address institutional backgrounds of museums as colonial spaces, explore the significant paradigm shift in museum management that has been happening in the last few decades, challenge the myth of museum neutrality, and discuss museums as advocates for human rights. It is a case-based course that shows how best practices of international museums tackle “tough topics,” such as slavery, oppression, colonialism, and racism. Our main case study will be the Glomdal Museum in Elverum, Norway, and its approach to the difficult task of engaging Romani/Tater people who suffered repression and forced assimilation for more than a century in the creation of a permanent exhibition about Romani culture. We will also look at the evolution that took place in New Zealand museums’ work with tribal communities, and some other cases. The course will include hands-on practice. Students will be invited to try the tools and approaches used in values-based cultural institutions around the world and develop their own reconciliation museum projects.