A manifesto to rethink the function of the museum

The principles of a museology that really represents colective memory must meet participatory processes.

The function of museums must incorporate education and develop empowerment of local people who are also part of local heritage.

A museum must open itself to dialogue in order to preserve, transform and communicate values related to the life of local population; the museum provides the communication tools (and even technology) that promote access and possibility of community participation.

The apolitical museum does not exist. The neutral museum does not exist. The museum is part of a time and a space and is the fruit of interpersonal relationships.

All narratives, whether exhibitions or other activities, are products of “a cut.”, a choice. Therefore, it is not inert matter, the museum is organic, rhizomatic, alive.

But today the museum experiences are free, they allow the experiences rewriting.

Museums question themselves, and they are included in the dilemmas of the present time.

Because the museum belongs to all that finally inhabit a city, a village, a neighborhood, a street, a country, the world!

The museum should be the a place where people find something of their history, but it is above all the place where people meet theirs and their own stories and histories, in revelations of identity in a place of discovery.

A renewed museology, engaged, full of people and life(s), is possible, every day, in new cases that proliferate, resilient, sometimes in local museums that wish to other stories, with other protagonists, those who have never been told, where there are endless people. And who cares to tell his version of reality, his look.

Often from the perspective of those who have been on the margins of the great decisions of power. The history of these people is the history of life of all the dawns and dusk that witness the history of places.

Museums with social intervention are needed to reject the field of neutrality and the social ambivalence: museums of all people and for the whole people, without fear of participating, with no prejudice.

New museums are accurate, new museums have no walls, the renewed museum is mixed with local issues and with global themes.

The genesis of the museums is partial, segmental. It tells an hegemonic and elitist narrative. We could, perhaps, retell the history of museums to their provenance of collection, private offices and curiosity cabinets, apanagio of certain privileged, rich, eccentric individuals; cabinets that are later blossomed into museums with official, national and imperial discourses, used as symbols, as brands of power and reaffirmation of values of power.

The museums we want they are multivocal, unlimited or at least with borders which are so wide and diffuse that they cannot be monitored: museums of freedom and action.

As a living element, the museum must react and become involved in the themes of the world and also in lives of people who are part of that museum, of that place. Just as it should represent the symbols and objects that have historical and affective value to the community.

New museums are desired; new museums aware of themselves that dare to idealize futures, to imagine scenarios, to think a new society. We need museums of conflict, dissent museums are desired.

So the discussion is not only about concepts to use or not be used. The discussion should address debate about the role and function of museums in the society. We don’t want to be out of this discussion. That’s why we are proposing this point of view, maybe a breaking point.

As alunas e alunos de Sociomuseologia da Universidade Lusófona


Pedro Pereira Leite

Researcher and professor. He had his PhD. on museology in 2011, with the title “Muss-amb-ike Homeland: The commitment on musicological process”, that was published in 2011. In 2012 he finishes a Post-PhD Research on "Biographical Glances: The intersubjectivity poetry on museology, at Lusófona University (Lisbon). Presently he is working in his Post PhD. Research about: “Global Heritages" with the aims to build a network on local cognizance and memory manager has a tool to build the will of action in 3 different communities, linked by past communed heritages.” He works at CES. He participates on different Research network, presented papers in national and international conferences, and had published books on research subjects.

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