In January I was lucky enough to talk about ‘Who Cares?’ at the 1st Franco-British Research Workshop. The theme of this two day workshop was ‘Delving Back into the Past to look into the Present and Future’ and was the result of The Cluster of Excellence LABEX in France working with the AHRC’s Care for the Future theme to identify topics of mutual interest.
The workshop was held in the beautiful Royaumont Foundation, Val d’Oise, France an institute with a long history of supporting the arts and perfect surroundings for conversations about our relationship with the past. Also the most amazing conference food I’ve ever had- five desserts and a cheese course!
During the workshop we heard from a range of speakers in French and English who covered topics that ranged from film, archives, museums, oral history, family history, trauma, community and the environment. The theme of memory, how we researched, conceptualised and recorded it stood out for me over the two days. I thought about how memory, institutional and individual, runs through museum collections and how we might reflect the emotions connected with the act of recollection.
The response to our paper was very helpful. I learnt about French local history museums with collections of ‘unloved’ objects and the familiar discussions about neglect, care and passion taking place within these organisations. I was also encouraged to think about how we might frame our ‘unloved’ collections within the debates surrounding cultural value. Altogether, an exhausting and thought provoking experience.
– Alison Hess, Science Museum