no. 3 (2011)

The City and the Museum

Cities are museums of a sort – as three-dimensional illustrations of history, huge collections, but also treasure chests in which the spirit of the place hides. Unfortunately, the history of our part of the continent has rarely left them intact. Their existence here is a story of ups and downs.

Perhaps this is what lies behind the overwhelming need to protect all that has been preserved or even to recreate what has been destroyed. The evolution of the urban space towards a role as a museum is interwoven here with successive waves of national revivals.

But matters of state and nation form only one chapter of the story which is the city. Moreover, the story of the city often provides us with an opportunity to free ourselves from narratives of the “one truth” ilk, to reconcile antagonisms, to uncover the genuine, albeit complex – because many-layered – identity of places. And museums have an important role to play in this process. And thus another layer of the urban palimpsest is created. It must always be read with particular attention.

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