Join us for the second event of online lectures hosted by the Centre for Design History, University of Brighton. Organised by Dr Claire Wintle (University of Brighton), Dr Linda Sandino (Victoria and Albert Museum), and Andrea Potts (University of Brighton).

Studying Finnish Museum Stories

Inkeri Hakamies (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Wednesday 29 June 2022
16:00-17:00 BST

How can oral history be used to research museums? Oral history has the potential to shed light on how museums function as institutions as well as attending to subjective and personal experiences within those institutions. Yet it remains an underdeveloped method in the study of museums. In this future-oriented series of online public talks and in-person collaborative workshop, we seek to reflect upon the strengths and limitations of oral history to develop a shared practice in the study of museum histories. In this online public talk, open to all, Dr Inkeri Hakamies from the University of Helsinki, Finland will talk about ‘Studying Finnish Museum Stories’

Dr Inkeri Hakamies writes: In my doctoral dissertation, I studied how museums are practiced and defined through social practices, and more precisely, how various tasks and museums have been valued as more or less ‘museal’ than others. The empirical material of my study consisted of biographical interviews, in which museum professionals reminisced about their careers in the Finnish museum field. The material was a product of a Finnish Museum History Project, carried out between 2005 and 2011, before my own research project and without my involvement. The interviewees’ careers were set in a time period that brought many changes to museum work practices and to the ways museums function in a society. Therefore, depicting change was one of the main goals of the interview project.

Working with a “ready” material and balancing both critical and respectful approaches has not been easy. After hearing the interviewees’ stories, I wanted to recognise the plurality of museum practices and their personal meanings for the practitioners. However, there were also moments when I wanted to disagree with the material. In my analysis, I analysed how the interviewees understood “real museum work” and was surprised by how little attention the interviewers paid to the emergence of new occupations or tools, such as museum educators or computers. Was this just the natural flow of conversation, or an act of exclusion? Whose voices was I echoing? This presentation will consider these questions.


Inkeri Hakamies studied European Ethnology and Museology at the University of Helsinki. She defended her dissertation (Practicing Museums – Museum People, Museum Work and Change in Practice) in October 2021. She is interested in the social life that takes place in museums and museum professionals’ perspectives. In the future, she would like to learn more about children’s perceptions on museums.


Previous events in the series:

Pamela M. Henson, Smithsonian Instituton, US – ‘How Museums Live, Change, and Grow’
You can read about this event and watch the lecture here

Coming up:

Priyanka Seshadri, Independent Archivist, Delhi, India – ‘Oral Histories in Indian Museums’ – Monday 4 July, 16:00-17:00 BST