The history of European museums is marked by imperialism and scientific and colonial genealogies inherited from the 19th century. How can we reinvent the museum and its collections to move towards an ecological and emancipatory model of reparation? What should the museum evoke and provide for its citizens?
Curator, publisher, and cultural historian, Clémentine Deliss, is one of the most prominent figures in the fight against the Eurocentric legacy within art history and in the art museums that shape and teach this history. Beginning with her “Manifesto for the rights of access to colonial collections sequestered in western Europe”, Deliss, in a conversation with the Director of the Museums of the city of Porto, Nuno Faria, and the anthropologist and researcher at ISCTE-IUL, Nélia Dias, will present a model for a future institution in which a generative flow of university-level inquiry is constituted within the walls of a museum. Against the backdrop of the decolonial imperative, her model for a Museum-University questions dominant ideologies of conservation by opening up collections, their histories, and their complaints to various operations of remediation. It banks on the unmonetized and often contested research collections of the past to formulate new methodological and trans-cultural alliances. Transforming a museum into a university is the first step towards constructing a museum of the commons and with it, an equitable reassessment of ethno-colonial collections. Such an untethered venue with no vantage points or attempts to direct the mind towards the confines of one overriding discipline would be a field, an expanse, a form of agronomy where every visitor would farm modest meanings from unmastered works, slowly apprehending the metabolics of the museum as a body.