Over the course of the last decade, many museums have embraced new ways of storytelling. In dialogue with their communities and audiences, and often under pressure by museum activists, museum staff and curators have grappled with systemic racism and their institutions’ implications in histories of colonialism, nationalism, and exclusion.
In response, curators of history, art, archeological and anthropological museums have enlisted contemporary artists as well as new and traditional narrative and visual media to face these entangled memories and histories, to embrace practices of redress and repair, and to tackle other pressing contemporary issues, among them global warming, migration, genocide, and systems of inequality. Critical museum practices have consciously sought to break with linear narratives of progress and began to experiment with new forms of “recognition and identification to unsettle received narratives about the past and/or to produce new forms of subjectivity” (Andrea Witcomb). Other museums, however, have held on to and reimagined narratives of scientific progress, nostalgia, and national celebration. We are interested in the simultaneity of divergent narrative modalities found in contemporary museums: in multivocality and -lingualism as well as in mono-perspectival exhibition concepts.