A history of Preservation and Obsolescence – 19th century Museums in Transformation


My research is concerned with processes of change and conservation that are currently taking place at national museums throughout Europe. The museum as a public place was established during the 19th century, when Europe’s oldest and most established museum buildings where erected. These buildings have been altered and adjusted during the 19th and 20th centuries to support changing ideas of art and artefacts, history and nation. In present day conservation processes, however, historical alterations and additions are treated and valued differently. During the 21st century, many of the largest European museums have initiated large-scale reconstruction projects and museums in general are constantly expanding their activities and territories. The research is focusing on a selection of five recent museum projects and is addressing two main areas as a point of departure. The first area is considering the history of transformation within the selected cases and the developments and use of temporal concepts and considerations. By discussing aspects of cyclicality, obsolescence and authenticity in preservation processes my ambition is to uncover changing temporal ambitions in material processes. The second area of concern is dealing with the transnational aspects of these national monuments from a material perspective. By tracing histories of alteration in these buildings, the ambition is to discuss material provenance and the particular narratives of displacement and origin that these materials bring as well as the actors involved. These aspects will be researched through the use of micro history as a method to make precise and detailed incisions within each case as well as ethnographic site studies to address the everyday and mundane within these public projects. By studying processes of transformation in museum buildings, I aim to discuss the unfolding of temporal and material changes and what architectural histories they entangle.