A MUSEUM WITHOUT A MUSEUM: RAMM’S REFURBISHMENT AND REBRANDING PROCESS

Ilke Kocamaz,
PhD Candidate
University of Exeter
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Malraux’s concept of the “museum without walls” informed us about the museum as a concept or a construct that is not dependent on any particular place or time. It referred to the museumization processes in our modern societies, i.e. our streets, cities etc. becoming ever more museum-like. Today many museums are going under refurbishment and rebranding to fit themselves into the 21st century consumer culture. It is seemingly a time of crisis/opportunity for many of them because they have to lead the refurbishment processes without having to loose their customers. Times are fastening and refurbishments seem to eventually become a normal procedure that museums, just like many other basic institutions like banks or schools, will have to face every couple of years, if not more often. So, the museum seems to eventually have to literally be without walls. Museums are looking for immaterial ways of rebuilding themselves in the hope that they will be able to make necessary changes more often and with less burden.
Going under a huge refurbishment and rebranding process, the story of the RAMM tells us a lot about how a museum can literally work without walls. While being shut down, the museum takes its collections to many different interest groups and keeps its relationships up and running with them. The museum is becoming ever more immaterial, using the Internet and other technological sources and extending its boundaries to become a global player. The museum is using the refurbishment process as an opportunity to come together with many people from around the world, not being restricted to the people from Exeter (even though it has initially been built up as a local museum). Some staff members say that the refurbishment process itself
has brought them together to work in a single office where they can see and interact with each other and form a renewed sense of unity.

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One Response to A MUSEUM WITHOUT A MUSEUM: RAMM’S REFURBISHMENT AND REBRANDING PROCESS

  1. Maria Usk. PhD Candidate. Department of Cultural Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia July 1, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Kocamaz’s brief posting “The Museum Without a Museum: RAMM’s Refurbishment and Rebranding Process” tells us about de-institutionalisation of museums and describes the immaterial ways of developing museum culture.
    Knowledge based on digitalisation is a self-explanatory distinctive feature of the 21st century consumer. Belief in technical process has risen large-scale disquisitions about hopes and fear nowadays as well as already in the Age of Enlightenment. As the aim of culture lies in diversity, museum culture has to count with its extensive possibilities.
    The first alternative question in digitalised museums lies in the question of originals. The fact is that museums historically started as private collections of originals. Museums based on Internet and other technological resources represent a reproduction for the original. How approximate to the original should a museum piece be? What is a museum piece at all – an object, an activity, a milieu or knowledge? How much participation does an exhibit need to make a collection’s importance available for public understanding? Would a museum be bounded on viewing the collection or perhaps participation would serve the same purpose even-handedly or even better in some cases?
    A metaphor for describing life activities ‘the theatre of life’ coincides in certain points with Malraux’s idea of ‘museum without walls’. According to Malraux’s idea of museum without walls, we may consider new links within culture. Perhaps it is time to widen the possibilities of participation in visiting museums. Besides open-air museums that have already proved the success of participation a long time ago, we could apply to performing art practices to diversify the topic. The ‘fourth wall’ separating performer and audience is broken in interactive theatre similarly to Malraux’s idea of “a museum without walls”. People could become characters of history, share the historical or professional world of the exhibition or alter the course of activities in real time. This kind of ‘drama museum’ would resemble a little bit an ancient museum form that acted more as an institute than a traditional museum.
    The museum phenomenon has possibilities to change in many ways, both visually and physically as well as technologically and in reality. To study and exploration may sometimes be more effectual through physical experiences, but of course it may take use of all kinds of technical innovations. Museum culture should count on diverse possibilities of meaning – making and preserve multifarious experiences for bringing forth better solutions.

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