Based mainly on Estonian examples, Linda Kaljundi's talk will focus on what might be called a global turn towards more entangled, transnational and transcultural histories – and ask how this has affected the representation of Baltic history and cultural heritage in museums. During the past decades, in Estonia, a number of mostly literary and cultural historians have argued for the need to approach Baltic history from a more transnational perspective, mapping and highlighting entanglements between different local communities, as well as the importance of transcultural transfers in the history and cultural heritage of the Baltic borderlands.
These new approaches, studies and debates have also increased museums’ interest towards transcultural and transcultural transfers, but also raised new questions concerning the role of museums in (re)mediating cultural memory. How to represent, narrate and frame critically cultural transfers, translations, and dialogue via different museum collections, exhibitions, and programmes? How to trace them in different archives, and how to rethink the canon?
Relying on her own experience of curating the new permanent exhibition, „Landscapes of Identity: Estonian art 1700–1945“ (2021) together with Kadi Polli at Kumu Art Museum (Tallinn), Linda Kaljundi will discuss the opportunities and challenges of adapting the entangled and transcultural perspective for museological and curatorial practices. While doing this, she will discuss not only the challenges of representing transfer and translation in museums, but also the transfer of ideas from history and cultural history to museum display, addressing the issues related to what we might call the translation of method and theory from humanities to museums. She will also briefly reflect on our experience in making the exhibition to speak to different communities, as well as the importance and specifics of translation as such in museums.
Linda Kaljundi is a professor of cultural history at the Estonian Academy of Arts and a senior research fellow in environmental history at Tallinn University. She holds a PhD from the University of Helsinki and specialises in the transnational and entangled dimensions of Baltic history, historiography, and cultural memory. Kaljundi has published and edited collections on history writing, historical fiction and images, including "Novels, Histories and Novel Nations: Historical Fiction and Cultural Memory in Finland and Estonia" (2015, with Eneken Laanes, Ilona Pikkanen), "History in Image – Image in History: The National and Transnational Past in Estonian Art" (2018, with Tiina-Mall Kreem), and "Entangled Human-Animal Histories: Practices and imaginaries from the Eastern Baltic borderlands" (forthcoming, with Ulrike Plath, Kadri Tüür). She has also co-curated several exhibitions, including "History in Image – Image in History" (2018, with Tiina-Mall Kreem), "The Conquror’s Eye: Lisa Reihana’s In Pursuit of Venus" (2019, with Eha Komissarov, Kadi Polli), and the new permanent exhibition, Landscapes of Identity: Estonian art 1700–1945 (2021, with Kadi Polli) (all at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn).