Skip to main content

Transforming the staging and curation of difficult pasts in museums

Transforming the staging and curation of difficult pasts in museums

Dr Lease’s research on staging difficult pasts has transformed approaches to staging and curation in major, publicly-funded museums in Argentina and Poland and influenced cross-sector collaborations that are bringing theatrical strategies into museum curation.

Our research on staging difficult pasts has transformed approaches to staging and curation in major, publicly-funded museums in Argentina and Poland and influenced cross-sector collaborations that are bringing theatrical strategies into museum curation.

Informed new approaches to curation

Lease’s research enabled diverse audiences (Polish and non-Polish, Jewish and non-Jewish) to come together in a performance of commemoration that worked beyond hierarchies of suffering engrained in public memory of the Holocaust in Poland. Lease’s collaboration with museums in Krakow led to innovations in the curation of objects and audience engagement in the Ethnographic Museum and Cricoteka. He introduced museum curators to new ways of using objects related to Holocaust witnessing, and generated new forms of audience engagement through theatre and performance. By using theatrical approaches to address visitor and audience experiences, museum curators collaborated with theatre-makers to better use their collections to curate powerful emotional responses. Dr Lease devised workshops with theatre maker Wojtek Ziemilski and museum curators to explore how objects and how artefacts might be presented outside of museum walls to increase public engagement. Curator Erica Lehrer remarked, ‘I was a sceptic. But in this performance I was truly unsettled in the most moving way by seeing the audience engage with these objects, pulling them on the street, and the sound of the wheels on the street, and the children and the police presence. It did that unsettling work of performance that we talk about and which looking at the object in the museum does not do. A big impact on me was awakening my sense of the potential of performance as a mode of intervention’.

The subsequent collaboration with ESMA Site of Memory Museum in Buenos Aires serves as a poignant example of how collaborations across Poland and Argentina can generate new ways of working, and lead to permanent changes in curation. Given the challenge of curating the perpetrator’s gaze, Lease proposed theatrical and performative means to curate the space and introduced Wojtek Ziemiliski to an artistic residency at ESMA Museum that culminated in a final performance. The museum’s Director Alejandra Naftal wrote, ‘We took the challenge of making this performance intervention which created a completely new way of thinking about what happened in this building and what happens in our environment’.

For further information visit:

Kraków performance: http://stagingdifficultpasts.org/objects-in-the-state-of-unrest.html

Buenos Aires performance: http://stagingdifficultpasts.org/esma.html

 

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today