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Museum: a slow genre

A museum is a place where objects, pictures, texts and ideas are ‘included’ in a space and present themselves in apparent immobility. Reception requires patience, openness and curiosity, time and slowing down – because a museum is a slow genre.

When modern museums were founded in the 18th and 19th centuries, pace and rhythm were different. Time went by differently. A work of art and interpretation meant something different. The transformation of acceleration and the use of space not only changed the street but also the museum. Slowness is an old-fashioned tempo from the aspect of the visual and the media’s colonisation of contemporary culture: as if a genre has resisted modernity and change. Yet the rediscovery and culture of slowness is a critical idea in terms of 21st-century understanding.

What does this mean when translated to the language of museums? Does it mean a museum- historical process whereby an archive creates its authoritarian timelessness? Or a methodological field in which the still-picture-like methods of presentation compose a still life around objects, spaces and people? Or an educational situation in which the museum experience is based on thinking? At the crossroads of interactive digital technologies, the culture of new media and sharing slowing down is a virtue based on knowledge and courage. Where museum work suffers due precisely to their absence, it is the most daring undertaking. Let the slow museum be trendy!

Because there is a space that requires absorption and slow attention.
Because there is an age when slowing down is a virtue.
Because there is knowledge which requires slowing down.

How do these ideas appear in the pages of a journal? Where the interior softens into a still life. Where taking a photograph may call for several hours or several days. Where not only turning content into pictures formally but human relations, contexts and chance events experienced during work also play a part. Where a ruin, a fragment, the visibility of hidden details and unfolding the meaningful environment in the imagery is a methodological minimum. Where photography becomes fieldwork and images leave behind their illustrating role.

The photographs about objects, spaces and people in MúzeumCafé, which has been published since 2007, are parts of an archive which can be interpreted as the archive of learning how to facilitate seeing and understanding, as the composed architecture of objects, images, furniture, human beings and text, and as a document of an age, whose pattern can be collated with the museum story.

The palm trees of the Betliar Andrássy Mansion (today Slovak National Museum – Betliar Andrássy Museum) at the Rožňava Railway Station, 2015 Photograph by Csaba Villányi

The curator of the exhibition:
Zsófia Frazon

The exhibition is open to the public:
15/12/2015 – 25/01/2016