Vernacular museum: communal bonding and ritual memory transfer among displaced communities

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Mikula, M (2015)

Eclectically curated and largely ignored by the mainstream museum sector, vernacular museums sit at the interstices between the nostalgic and the future-oriented, the private and the public, the personal and the communal. Eluding the danger of becoming trivialised or commercialised, they serve as powerful conduits of memory, which strengthen communal bonds in the face of the ‘flattening’ effects of globalisation. The museum this paper deals with, a vernacular museum in Vanjärvi in southern Finland, differs from the dominant type of the house museum, which celebrates masculinity and social elites. Rather, it aligns itself with the small amateur museums of everyday life called by Angela Jannelli Wild Museums (2012), by analogy with Lévi-Strauss’ concept of ‘pensée sauvage’. The paper argues that, despite the present-day flurry of technologies of remembering and lavishly funded memory institutions, there is no doubt that the seemingly ‘ephemeral’ institutions such as the vernacular museum, dependent so much on performance, oral storytelling, living bodies and intimate interaction, nevertheless play an important role in maintaining and invigorating memory communities.
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