The Democratic Future of Museums: Reflections on a Participatory Project Named "gipSMK - The Royal Cast Collection Goes to Town"

By Henrik Holm.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Years of curating the Royal Cast Collection and studying its decline through the nineteenth century come into this paper that proposes a vision for the future of museums as practitioners of democracy. Political theory meets the philosophy of Plato, Hegel, Lacan, Ranciére, and Baudrillard in the discussion of the museum’s relationship to democracy. Practice and theory are fused together in a case of radically free, participatory practice owing much to Nina Simon's groundbreaking book of 2010 "The Participatory Museum". A selected youth audience was allowed to choose the artifacts they liked to work with from the collection. The artifacts were then put on display in the institutions with which the participants were associated so that they could work towards their exams as either high school students or contemporary dancers. The curator turned listening facilitator, the audience turned creative users of artifacts. For a moment, the passive collection was infused with beauty and meaning, far beyond the scope of normal exhibition practice, thus showing the future path of museums, where a truly democratic attitude guides the activities of the institution. The process is documented by a movie (, and the project has been presented at conferences in London and Stockholm.

Keywords: Museums, Curators, Exhibitions

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.47-55. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 380.572KB).

Mr. Henrik Holm

Curator, The Royal Cast Collection, National Gallery, Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

Ph.D. in art history. Areas of interest: Museology, methodology, critical theory, national identity, Danish art, cast collections.


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