Museums in the Web of Life

Yonsei University, Seoul, Monday 14 November 2022, 14.00-15.00

In the face of rapid environmental breakdown and increased social and political uncertainty, cultural institutions around the world have mobilised to imagine alternative ways of living on and with the planet. This talk will argue that such shifts indicate more than simply a change in policy or practice, and instead point towards a fundamental reorientation of culture in the web of life. By focusing on the historical formation and evolving place of museums in this web, the talk will explore how museums have contributed to the planetary crisis through specific symbolic and material practices, but also how emerging approaches in the field might help to unravel some of the more destructive aspects of this entanglement. What might be gained if we begin to consider all museums – not just those dealing with natural history – as always co-constituted through nature? How can new museum strategies contribute to planetary flourishing? This talk draws together Jason Moore’s conceptualisation of capitalism in the web of life with critical and speculative work on museums to understand the importance of re-worlding cultural practices more broadly. 

Gardens surrounding Seoul Museum of History