Travel and Museums: Rethinking the Modern Experience

17th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality
26 – 29 June 2013, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB)

The formation of the modern world was accompanied by a fundamental reshaping of culture itself: its agents, values, and symbols, its everyday practice and high culture rituals. Travel and museums present two key phenomena that capture the nature and extent of these transformations unlike any others. Born out of the economic, political and social upheaval of the 19th century, tourism and exhibitions gradually became part and parcel of modern life for growing strata of society. Yet, how have these practices altered in our post-industrial age with its globalized patterns of consumption and altered regimes of mobility? Who travels today and why? What defines the museum experience and wherein lies its purpose? The 17th Roundtables on Transnationality explored these and other related questions in two international and interdisciplinary workshops.

For further details please see the background paper.

Conference Format

Based on an international essay competition, approximately 30 applicants were invited to discuss their research, concerns and agendas with peers and prominent scholars in Berlin. The Irmgard Coninx Foundation covered travel to and accommodation in Berlin.

Discussions took place in two workshops:
“Places to Go: Tracing Modernity in Travel and Tourism” chaired by Anne Gorsuch (University of British Columbia) and
Dean MacCannell (University of California, Davis)
“The World on Display: Museums, Exhibitions, and Gardens” chaired by Sharon Macdonald (York University) including a special session with Martin Heller (curator; Humbold Lab Dahlem)

The conference was accompanied by two public lectures:

Ilija Trojanow (writer and publisher)
"Liberating Travel from the Confines of the Museum"

Martin Roth (director of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
"Reinventing the Museum"

For further information, please see the flyer

Eligibility and Application Procedure

The call for papers extended to students and scholars (post doctoral candidates must have completed a Ph.D. within the previous 5 years) and practitioners (e.g. curators, travel guides, journalists).

Irmgard Coninx Research Grant

Conference participants were eligible to apply for one of two fellowships (each of three months duration) to be used for research at the WZB in Berlin. For further information on the fellowship, please visit our research grant site. The winners of the research grant will be announced soon.