exhibition, which opened on International Museum Day
2000, arose from a series of questions: what becomes
important and meaningful when, for one reason or another,
you leave your country and your home for an uncertain
future? What do you take with you? What reminds you
of happiness and sorrow, family and friends? Can an
object, a scent, a sound become a key to memory? Can
museums be "Keys to Memory"?
The exhibition centres on personal objects, pictures
and short texts. It also contains a soundtrack (railway
stations, bees humming, bombing, waves, silences)
and scents in boxes to trigger memories. A sofa is
provided for quiet reading and reflection. The main
issue is the object, and the person's story behind
it. The selection criteria were that the stories had
to come from people living in Malmö, and who had come
there from another country. We wanted a spectrum of
women and men, children and adults, new and old arrivals,
those who had come for love, for work or to find safety.
It was the stories, not the nationality, which was
important. We asked the people selected for interview
to talk about their most precious object. The exhibition
takes excerpts from these interviews and presents
key brings me back to my childhood when I spent the
summers with my grandmother in her house in the countryside.
The key was for the shed where food, bed linen, hay,
candles, etc., were kept. Just by looking at the key
I can smell the dried hay for the mattresses and the
scent of candles. I can still feel the calm, the peace.
It has helped me in many phases of my life to have that
security within me. It is as if my grandmother protects
me through the key".
Kerttu Nurminen, 49. Came from Finland in 1974 because
her husband got a job in Sweden.
was a war in our country. We were scared. You could
hear the bombs and thought the house would fall. We
had no time to take anything. We don't even know how
we got out of the country. We had to hurry up and save
our lives. I only have some toys that a woman in Sweden
gave me when I came here. I feel sorry for them. They
are really tiny. I take them out of the box and tell
them it is a pity they have to be in there, so I keep
them in my pocket. I talk to them when I am sad. It
feels as if I am talking to a friend or something".
Arlinda Kelmendi, 10. Came from Mitrovica, Kosovo,
in 1998 as a political refugee with her family.
miss the landscape in Australia. The light is quite
different, it is sharper, lighter, whiter, more intense.
The colours of this picture are summer colours, the
yellow, brown, golden. It is something that I miss very
much. I keep it on the wall so I can see it when I enter
the house. If I smell lemon eucalyptus and mimosa I
am right in that painting. I am a child again, walking
in the sunshine with all those smells around me".
Lyndell Lundahl, 42. Came from Australia in 1986
when she married a Swedish man.
don't want to forget. To remember has been a way for
me to survive and get on with my life. I made the poncho
and the bag in prison. From this period I have not only
bad memories but also good ones. There was much friendship
in the prison, very strong friendship. The record by
Pablo Neruda where he reads his poems, was given to
me at the airport by good friends when I was leaving
Chile. Everything was not politics. There was also a
lot of poetry in all of it".
Enrique Pérez 49. Came from Chile in 1977 as a political
refugee after two years in a political prison near Santiago.
to Memory" is distinctive in several ways: it is housed
in a museum but has no museum objects in it ; the objects,
pictures and stories presented in the exhibition, as
well as the contributions by visitors were, however,
subsequently turned into museum objects in the form
of contemporary documents, giving personal and singular
views on recent world history and connecting the past
to the present. This exhibition therefore also establishes
a personal relation between the museum, its visitors
and society, involving the museum directly in the social
world and giving a voice to those whose history is rarely
given space in exhibitions or museum collections.
The exhibition led to new networks in the community
and communication across generations and across the
political spectrum. It also led to the involvement of
new visitor groups in the museum, since it attracted,
among others, immigrants, Swedes who had lived abroad
or had emigrated from Sweden and tourists. In order
to involve a younger age group, a school exhibition
on the same theme, called "I remember" was mounted in
the museum by a class of mostly illiterate immigrants
who were learning Swedish. Children's workshops on memory
and on what is important in life were also organised.
The visitors themselves were also invited to contribute
their memory to the exhibition and to the museum archives
on a Memory Wall and in the Guest Book.
In conclusion, this project can help us to understand
how each and every one of us is effectively a museum
of their own, with memories to keep and a story to
tell. The museum itself is important in giving form
to this aspect of ourselves, allowing it to be expressed
and generating dialogue between different members
Box 406, SE-201 24 Malmö,
Tel. (46) 40 344404. Fax (46) 40 124097.
around the theme:
Communities: MUVA, the Virtual Museum Of Arts El País
model community museum in a village in the High Atlas
Australia's multicultural history
community regulates its own heritage
published in: "ICOM News", Volume 54 - 2001