(Post) Anthropocene Museologies

30 November 2021

Hybrid Symposium online and on-site at Framer Framed, Amsterdam

Over the past two decades the Anthropocene has grown from a relatively niche geological concept to a vast intellectual industry encompassing Earth System Science, artistic production, political and economic theory, international policy, history, geography, archaeology and many other disciplines besides. Museums have not been immune to the gravitational pull of the concept. Exhibitions, public programmes, research projects and collecting activities have been established around the world to document, communicate and in some cases challenge the main threads of Anthropocene thinking. Natural history museums, science centres, contemporary art galleries and social history collections have all sought to reframe their work in relation to the Anthropocene, with some developing long-term strategies or agendas specifically focused on the historical roots and future trajectories of this proposed new geological epoch. At the same time, artists, curators and activists have experimented with the very form of the museum to critique the Anthropocene as an emergent planetary condition. Whether dealing with capitalism, future fossils or non-humanity, these speculative institutions work along the grain of museological practice to imagine alternative modalities of care, preservation, collecting and interpretation in the Anthropocene-to-come.

This event aims to ‘take stock’ of Anthropocene related projects in the museum sector over the past decade, and from this foundation sketch out the potential contribution museums might make to an Anthropocene or potential post-Anthropocene world. How have museums globally engaged with the Anthropocene through varied processes of collecting, display, curating, interpretation, programming and conservation? What impact have such projects had on the circulation and reception of the Anthropocene concept across diverse publics? To what extent might the Anthropocene and its various mutations (Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Anglocene etc.) challenge familiar museological concepts and practices, particularly those related to order, control, linearity, progress and human-exceptionalism? What kind of museology might emerge in a ‘post’-Anthropocene world, and how might new thinking and practice in this field contribute to broader debates around planetary care in the climate change era?

The event will conclude with a keynote panel featuring Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago), Chiara de Cesari (University of Amsterdam) and Scott Wing (Smithsonian Institution).

Online and on-site speakers throughout the day will include:

  • Bergit Arends, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
  • Giulia Bellinetti, Jan Van Eyck Academie & University of Amsterdam
  • Christian Ernsten, Maastricht University
  • Christina Fredengren, Stockholm University & Uppsala University
  • Rania Ghosn & El Hadi Jezairy, DESIGN EARTH
  • Walter Lowande, Federal University of Alfenas, Minas Gerais
  • Bridget McKenzie, Climate Museum UK
  • Dean Sully, UCL Institute of Archaeology
  • Bergsveinn Þórsson, University of Oslo
  • Zofia Trafas White, V&A
  • Line Vestergaard Knudsen, Aalborg University & Lotte Isager, University of Copenhagen

A detailed programme will be announced soon. 

The event is free and in English.

Register here to attend online or in-person.

In line with the Dutch government’s COVID measures, the corona entry pass system is in place. If you would like to attend in person, please be prepared to show a QR code with your vaccination or recovery status.

This project has received funding from the British Academy as part of a Knowledge Frontiers programme connecting scholars in the UK and the Netherlands working on the Anthropocene.