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The Knowledge Topography of Museums: Collective Knowledge Production as Museum Regeneration

Project period: 2018-2020
Funding: Arts Council Norway
Contact person at Østfoldmuseene: Marianne Løken, Project Manager. Email: Marianne.loken@ostfoldmuseene.no
Project website: https://tingenesmetode.no/tingenes-metode-hva-er-det-2

About the project

The Knowledge Topography of Museums is an R&D project that investigates how knowledge is produced at museums, both when developing an exhibition and when subsequently running it. The project draws on experiences gained from work on The Method of Things, a project carried out over the period 2015-2017.

This R&D project is a partnership between Østfoldmuseene and the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, and also involves the Swedish museums Malmö Museer, the Museum of Gothenburg and the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm.

Research question I: What kind of knowledge production takes place during and through the exhibition process at museums?

Research question II: What is required in order to establish practices for collective knowledge production in relation to museums’ permanent exhibitions?

The Knowledge Topography of Museums shall promote the development of museums by:

  • establishing a research-based theoretical understanding of various knowledge-generating processes at museums in order to clarify what kinds of knowledge-generating activities are performed at museums and what kinds of knowledge are produced, including where, how and by whom;​
  • investigating how museums can promote practices that ensure dynamic knowledge generation that is relevant to society in conjunction with establishing or renewing their permanent exhibitions.
  • In particular, Østfoldmuseene shall investigate how we can facilitate practices that emphasise inclusion and collaboration by building on our experiences from developing LAB1 at Moss Town and Industrial Museum and Bar 1567 at Fredrikstad Museum, together with Halden Historical Collections and the Halden ceramics association, and by developing a new permanent exhibition about agriculture and food production at Folkenborg Museum, which is due to open in 2022. 

Impacts and relevance

The results of the project are highly relevant to the whole museum sector because they will:

  • increase our understanding of how to develop more dynamic permanent exhibitions by encouraging involvement and participation;
  • establish concepts and methods for knowledge-generation through research at museums, in turn reinforcing the importance of museums to society as research institutions;
  • be transferable to other organisations thanks to its emphasis on co-creation across fields and disciplines;
  • help to build up new, long-lasting partnership networks across our museums and between our museums and other stakeholders.

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    Alette Falck in the foreground and Kristine Bonnevie at Dyrhaugstinden, Jotunheimen. Severin Worm-Petersen / Norsk Teknisk Museum