Seminar: Film in Ethnographic Exhibitions

Contemporary Ethnographic Museums increasingly use film material in exhibitions. Moving images and sounds complement visitor experiences, appealing to the senses, it is often assumed, in ways alternative to what displayed objects or images or written texts can do. In the exhibition room the moving images often play a powerful role in guiding audience perceptions, bringing to life what is otherwise only glimpsed: The moving image holds potential to transfer the ethnographied body across time and space and into the museum space, otherwise inhabited by motionless objects.

In recent decades, technological developments and a rising media consciousness have allowed most ethnographic museums to integrate audiovisual media better, more frequently and in multiple ways. At this prosperous stage in time, we may dwell with the politics and poetics of using films in ethnographic exhibitions: What status do museums assign to film in relation to other elements in the ethnographic exhibition? How do curators respond to ethical implications of screening faces and bodies of living or deceased people? How can we exhaust the potential of films in our endeavors to engage the senses of our audiences? And how can the medium of film support dialogues between source communities, curators and audiences in museum contexts?

The National Museum of Denmark (Ethnographic Collections), in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies) invites curators and scholars for a 1½-day seminar on the usages of films in ethnographic exhibitions. The aims of the seminar are to 1) stimulate a creative exchange of experiences between colleagues and 2) create an arena for discussion of the practices, politics and poetics of employing films in ethnographic exhibitions.

Keynote speakers

  • Dr. Mary Bouquet, University College Utrecht
  • Prof. Arnd Schneider, University of Oslo
  • Dr. Steffen Köhn, Freie Universität Berlin


The National Museum in Copenhagen, October 8-9 2015.


Phd Candidate Anne Mette Jørgensen, NTVK, National Museum of Denmark

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