Scientific Serendipity and the Museum Without Objects

The 3rd Weber World Café in Berlin Dahlem

“Every question is allowed.” – This was the guiding principle. In the foyer of the Ethnologic Museum in Berlin Dahlem, about 95 people had come together for a special format of exchange. But rather than a symposium, it was more a kind of scientific speed dating, as there was no audience. All participants were about to take part in a discussion about “Museum, Power and Identity”, the title of the 3rd Weber World Café (WWC), held by the Max Weber foundation, the Forum Transregionale Studien in cooperation with ArtHistories and the Staatliche Museen Berlin.

In the opening of the event, the hosts used the metaphor of speed-dating to illustrate their motifs: While speed dating in general is about friendship and love between humans, this particular dating experience was about the relation between humans and objects and the museum. “Museums tell stories about these relations”, Viola König, director of the Ethnologic Museum, pointed out in her opening statement. Apart from the intention to reflect together on these relationships and establish new contacts, the Weber World Café intended to bring questions to the tables: What is the role of museums and aesthetic practices in society today? How can we display the scientific knowledge about objects on display? Why are we collecting?


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