ICOM’s recent call for a redefinition of museums envisions a more explicitly activist role for them. As Tony Bennett and others have argued, museums have always aimed to be agents of transformation; However, the contexts in which they operate have changed, and older museums are being held to account for their earlier civilizing, missionizing, and colonizing roles. Today, many museums, both old and new, are redefining their role in society. Drawing on my experience as Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, I will explore the creation and impact of this museum and its core exhibition within a changing political and cultural landscape. I will focus on the curatorial, metahistorical, and narrative principles guiding the multimedia narrative exhibition, a journey of a thousand years, that is at its core.
Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is the Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University.
This lecture is part of the project "CHEurope: Theorizing the future of heritage in Europe", supervised by Professor Nélia Dias, Director of the Department of Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences. CHEurope has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement Nr - 722416.