Exhibiting Contemporary History is a one-year part-time postgraduate certificate course offered by Friedrich Schiller University of Jena with the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation. It is part of the Europäisches Kolleg Jena: Representing the 20th Century.
This professional development programme offers participants opportunity to combine innovative research in contemporary history and museology with inquiry into historical cultures, leading to the development of practical curatorial strategies and concepts. The programme is designed for early-career curators and employees of museums and memorials who already have some practical experience. It should be especially useful for exhibit curators with a background in history, cultural studies, or art history, or whose focus is on museum collections.
While there is an ever-growing number of museums and memorials that deal with the twentieth century, so far there has been no dedicated professional development course for presenting the calamitous history of the 'age of extremes' (as Eric Hobswarm dubbed it) in a museum context. A knowledgeable, intelligent, and aesthetic approach to historical heritage is necessary for documenting, exhibiting, and explaining it in museums. The Exhibiting Contemporary History programme thus focuses on ways of treating things (realia) and visual evidence as sources, representations, and semiophores (to use Krzyzstof Pomian's term), as well as on the explanatory structures of an exhibit. It offers an introduction to analytical approaches to curating and provides skills for comprehending and knowledgeably exhibiting aesthetic representations and constructions of meaning with an eye to their inner logics and overall historical contexts.