Witnessing Culture: Museums, Exhibitions and the Artistic Encounter
As public institutions that serve society by conserving and communicating the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity, museums aim to provide opportunities for social groups to engage with their unique collections and gain ‘unforgettable’ experiences (López-Sintas et al., 2012). As with many other cultural institutions, museums are highly dependent on national histories, traditions and funding, and vary widely by organizational structure, audiences and exhibits.
The paper deals with the theory of collective trauma, which is built within the framework of the “strong program” in cultural sociology by Jeffrey Alexander. The theory highlights the importance of the trauma in the shaping of contemporary Western collective identities. The central message of the theory is the avoidance of the “naturalism fallacy”, i.e. of such a vision of the trauma, which doesn’t differ seriously the fact of collective perception from the objective event. Following Alexander, sociologically valid way to explain collective trauma should focus on the symbolic mechanisms of the creating trauma, and is driven by such a notions as code, master narrative, drama, ritual, etc. The power of developed explanation is illustrated by numerous historical cases.
Studies of post-war Soviet historiography are heavily concentrated around the issues of party control in and resistance of intellectuals. Giving an account of the historical periodicals author seeks to correct this approach in the perspective of the history of science, sociology of culture and cultural policy studies . The article addresses 1) the problem of definition and characteristics of the transformation of the corpus of historical periodicals in the 1950s - 1960s, and 2) interrelation of the new political, economical and media conditions and changes in the management practices and communication strategies of the academic periodicals .
This paper addresses the issue of public cultural services management by the example of event organization in cultural institutions. The Night of Museums event has been held annually in St. Petersburg and attracted more than 100 000 visitors for its fifth edition in 2012. A multistage study on this event has been organized aiming at exploring the potential of the large-scale event in development of public cultural services management both from the side of audience and cultural entities. The findings of the study indicate audience development within the event, implementation of innovative solutions through application of creative methods by cultural institutions and develop recommendations for effective provision of public cultural services.