Thinking about ethnographic museums


Ethnographic museums are a tool that we use in order to understand the present, to think about the future and to discover the past. It is a space for contact, discussion and critical reflection on what surrounds us and for what we want to be collectively responsible.

We look and listen intently at the world, becoming a part of it. We want to share our conviction that ethnographic method and an anthropological perspective helps us understand reality. The world around us never ceases to amaze, to provoke new questions or prompt new activities, often fraught with experimentation and risk.

Another resource is the ethnographic collection. It is a legacy in which ethnographic visions are interwoven with images of cultures and testimonies of peoples’ lives. It is, for us, a legacy that demands new interpretations. Objects and content are also assembled within the collection, as are gaps or interrupted narratives, together forming a story of humanity that is constantly being revisited. And they call for further investigation.

We traverse contemporary reality through ethnographic pathways – never by highway. We visit the worlds of people who share not only their knowledge, experience, handicrafts and intellect, but also their questions. Our areas of research include gardens, wedding venues, family photo albums, craft workshops, wardrobes, attics, and archival nooks with their jumble of oft-perturbed memory. They also include bus stops at the Polish-Belorussian border, homesteads scattered along the upper course of the Taz River in northern Russia, a palm tree farm surrounding a village in the Peruvian Amazon, or the courtyard  near a secondary school in Nairobi. Our research site is the museum itself as well. 
Everyone can get involved. Our workshops, debates, seminars, lectures, long-term projects, published works and exhibits serve as our invitation for your participation. Through them, you can experience for yourself how ethnography can be useful, and whether it is a good tool for exploring oneself and others.

The Ethnographic Museum we dream about is a communal space.