chapter  2
17 Pages

Between Traditional And Modern Museology

Exhibiting national history in the Museum of Georgia
WithMalkhaz Toria

Traditional museums were largely designed to display the history, archaeology, ethnography, and art of the dominant ethnic or national group, representing the past as it is inscribed in official national historiography. In contrast, many contemporary museums reflect a fundamental shift from representing the nation’s achievements to exhibiting a more complex past. Contemporary Georgia continues the transition from Soviet totalitarianism to democracy and revision of its historical past, particularly the recent Soviet “difficult past,” is an integral part of this process. In this context, museums constitute one of the primary domains in which a post-Soviet re-conceptualization of history is reflected. However, in Georgia, these key memory institutions do not always fit the framework of contemporary museology and, in fact, maintain traditional ways of representing history and displaying cultural heritage. This chapter examines how the Museum of Georgia continues to strictly adhere to national historiography and narrative in its collections and exhibitions. Descriptions of collections, object labels, and wall texts refer to ancient and medieval times and aim to evoke deeply rooted patriotic sentiments. These patriotic messages then become moralized in the exhibits documenting the Soviet occupation, where visitors are encouraged to experience and condemn the horrors of communist repressions.