Museum

MuseumThe Archive in Development: Behind the Scenes of Alternative Archives in th

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When does something belong in the lesbian archive, and when does it belong in the archive of the women’s movement? And should there be a shelf that only displays works made by authors of colour? These are examples of questions that staff members of “alternative archives” ask themselves. Alternative archives are heritage institutions that preserve the historical sources of groups whose heritage was not or only scarcely collected by traditional archives, such as LGBTI+ people, women, and people of colour.

Archival staff members make decisions concerning how the history of these movements can best be preserved and made accessible. The questions, conversations and discussions that underlie these decisions happen behind the scenes. Visitors to archives and documentation centres only come into contact with the end results these choices lead to. Because of this, the archive seems to be a neutral institution, where history is simply preserved and made accessible. Through various historical photographs and documents, the exhibition “The Archive in Progress” zooms in on several snapshots from the history of alternative archives in the Netherlands, in order to make visible those processes of selection that happen behind the scenes.

 

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