Museiskaparna : Skapandet av Hallwylska museet och Waldemarsudde och hur museerna skildrar sina grundares verk idag
This essay deals with the founders of Hallwylska museet and Waldemarusdde in Stockholm, who donated their homes as museums to the Swedish state in the first half of the 20th century. The aim of this essay is to compare how Hallwylska museet and Waldemarsudde portray their donors’ museum-making in relation to the intentions of the donors, which can be deducted from their catalogues and the documents validating their donations.
The catalogues that Wilhelmina von Hallwyl and prince Eugen saw to making give an idea of the approaches they had towards their museum-making. The intentions they gave for their donations can be found in the official documents and testament respectively regarding their donations. To find out how today’s museums portray the donors and their museum-making I have attended two guided tours at each museum and analysed their guidebooks and the texts available in the milieus. With the intentions of the donors as a contextual background I have applied a class and gender perspective on what visitors may learn at the museums. I use these perspectives with a post structural view in mind, seeing society as based on structures formed by the people living within that society. My results show that the two museums have rather different ways of presenting their founders. The guides and guidebooks at Hallwylska museet explain Wilhelmina von Hallwyls place in society as a noble lady grown up in an upper-middle class environment, and they high-light her break with female norms of the time. They portray her as open-minded in her wish to show future visitors her cultural milieu, but the elaborate and scientific catalogue she made and the great amount of work she put into her museum is seen as both admirable and weird. The guides, perhaps unintentionally, portray the extent of her activeness in realising her museum plans as abnormal. In contrast prince Eugen receives no criticism for not seeing to the completion of his collection catalogue, but like Wilhelmina von Hallwyl he receives praise for making his art collection and house available to the public. Prince Eugen is positively contextualised as a royal who broke with tradition in becoming a modern artist. The guides and guidebooks portray him as timeless in his modern tastes, but this gives an impression of him as standing above the society and culture that formed him. Adding to this is the negligence of contextualising the great privileges he held as a man of the royal family. My conclusion is that the guides unintentionally put the two museum founders in different light because of their differences in class and gender. Public museums are educators, and as such it might be in their interest to include a greater amount of social critique and historical context in their history telling. This is a two years master’s thesis in museum and heritage studies.
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