Together with European partners from ten countries The National Museums of World Culture are part of the EU-funded project "Ethnography Museums & World Cultures".
In a growing global and multicultural world, the European project Ethnography Museums and World Cultures rethought the place and role of ethnography museums.
Most such museums were established in the context of colonisation, and when the colonies were granted independence they had to relinquish their original function as conservatories of exotic objects and showcases for political propaganda and face reconversion on both a scientific and social level. Indeed, the status of the people who were regarded as a special object of study has changed completely and the political context of our contacts with them has changed as well. Considering the current upheavals in those societies and the waves of migration they provoke, the museums – which hold a substantial body of knowledge and heritage – must review their priorities. They have the option of using the accumulated wealth of their collections to give the public the keys to understanding other cultures.
Ten of Europe's ethnography museums, among the most important on the international scene, are pooling their experiences in series of scientific workshops on social issues related to the perception of ethnic groups from the other continents, organized around two main themes: "modernity" and first encounters.
The set up of a collective and travelling exhibition crystallize the question of "modernity" and the elaboration of a theatre piece is dedicated to the first encounters.
International Colloquiums, workshops and research laboratories contribute, all along the project, to the analysis of this theme that, at eventually, will be published.
Teams of scientists and professionals from these museums are working to set up an international network of Ethnography Museums (RIME) that will facilitate exchanges of collections, data transfers and staff mobility. A special place will be kept for the museums in economically disadvantaged countries to give them the full benefit of membership of such a network.
By bringing together a number of European ethnography museums, various scientific partners and associations cooperate in order to take up these new challenges, the project will position these museums as key partners and special mediators in the current drive to foster dialogue between cultures in respect to their diversity.