Open to the public: Strategies for a museum archive

Jasmin İhraç (Berlin)

Text published in the e-journal MAP - Media | Archive | Performance, 2015

Over the past several years, we have witnessed a number of exhibitions that dealt with the topics of archiving and documentation. These exhibitions have not only investigated new ways of presenting documentary materials in the museum space, but also offered different working tools for the audience to relate to them, and questioned the status of the archival object itself. One example is the nomadic exhibition re.act.feminism (2009 to 2013), which compiled photographs, videos and texts from 189 feminist performance artists, displaying them in different spaces and institutions across Europe. Visitors were invited to view the documents and to work with them in the exhibition space.

At the same time, archiving has also become a topic for the art institutions themselves. Museums and galleries started to consider the organization, documentation and accessibility of their past activities and exhibitions. Institutions such as MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani) in Barcelona and Haus der Kunst in Munich can be named as examples for this development. While Haus der Kunst opened its historical archive that covers the period from 1933 to 1945 for public consultation, MACBA has begun to offer access to recent exhibition documentation. These collections can be accessed by staff members, researchers, scholars and the general public.