From Great Men to Ordinary Citizens? The Biographical Approach to Narrating European Integration in Museums

Authors

  • Wolfram Kaiser European Studies, University of Portsmouth, UK

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113385

Keywords:

Biographical approach, European integration history, founding fathers, museums, personalization

Abstract

The history of European integration is not easy to tell – in books or, for that matter, in museums. Most importantly, it appears to lack drama. This lack of drama creates a dilemma for museum practitioners who wish to tell stories about the contemporary history of Europé as shared history. In these circumstances, one prominent way of telling stories about European integration history in museums, and the focus of this article, is the biographical approach. Drawing upon research in all of the museums mentioned in this article and many more, and some 60 interviews with museum practitioners from across Europé, this article first discusses three biographical approaches to narrating European integration history in museums. It proceeds to draw out general conclusions about the prospects of mainstreaming European integration in history museums, and about the particular opportunities and pitfalls of the biographical approach and its different varieties.

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Interviews

Benoit, Isabelle, Tempora, interview, Brussels, 14 October 2009.

Dumoulin, Michel, Professor, Université Louvain-la-Neuve, interview, Louvain-la-Neuve, 7 October 2009.

Kleinig, Alexander, Director, Visitors’ Centre, European Parliament, interview, Brussels, 29 October 2009.

Witte, Els, Professor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, interview, Brussels, 6 October 2009.

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Published

2011-10-25

Issue

Section

Theme: Exhibiting Europé