Working on (breaking down) the myth

Cult of personality in museums between expectations and deconstruction

04.05. - 05.05.2023

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04.05. - 05.05.2023


Museumsakademie Joanneum

Meeting point

Kulturhistorisches Museum, Magdeburg (DE)


200 €, reduced fee 150 € (The reduced fee is available to students, trainees, unemployed people, and employees of this year’s cooperation partners.)

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About the

Myths are a constant of popular constructions of history. Historical public figures have been inscribed into the collective historical consciousness through their intensive—and selective—reception. The veritable cult surrounding them can present a challenge to exhibition designers. Cultural institutions are often driven to follow the often cited “dictate of anniversaries” and “jubilee culture”. The public figures portrayed as “heroes”—less often as “heroines”—serve as unique selling points to highlight a city, region, or even an entire country, and thus function as projection screens for different interest groups. Formats such as large-scale national exhibitions or “blockbuster” exhibitions, presentations in specialised thematic museums, and permanent collections in museums closely connected with a historical figure all have to deal with this issue. Is it possible to combine research-based knowledge with popular and politically desired conceptions? What historical narratives are reproduced, challenged, or recreated? The workshop on the cult of personality as “Working on (breaking down) the myth” aims to discuss possibilities of moderating these conflicting demands. We will take a critical look at the touristic reproduction of myths and cults of personality and at the same time adopt a nuanced view of it as a relevant cultural policy and economic factor. We will thus consider the extent to which expectations can be met, and how it might be possible to constructively unsettle common historical images.   

Sandra Hertel Historian, Director of the Iserlohn Municipal Museums (DE) 
Gabriele Köster Art historian, Director of the Museum of Cultural History Magdeburg (DE)
Ulf Morgenstern Historian, research associate and lecturer, Otto-von-Bismarck Foundation/ University of Hamburg (DE)
Flora Tesch Art historian, curatorial assistant, LWL Museum of Art and Culture, Münster (DE)
Holger Thünemann Professor of Didactics of History with special consideration of historical culture, WWU Münster (DE) 
Tobias von Wolffersdorff Architect, Dießen am Ammersee (DE)
Michael Zelle Archaeologist, Director, Lippisches Landesmuseum, Detmold (DE)


Organisers of the workshop
Eva Muster University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU)/Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg (DE)  
Teresa Mocharitsch Management team, Museumsakademie Joanneum, Graz (AT)