Open archive – a review
The advent of the coronavirus pandemic seems to have sparked a surge in archival-minded exhibitions in museums (and other kinds of art spaces) the world over, which was noticeable especially in the aftermath of the first wave of the pandemic during the summer of 2020. Many of these shows have been permeated by a sense of “getting back to basics”, as it were. This is not surprising, given that the coronavirus pandemic has put into question the ability of museums to perform the most basic of tasks, such as (physically) opening their doors to visitors for example. This state of heightened precariousness has prompted a heightened awareness of the museum’s fundamental functions, which are the preservation and exhibition of its permanent collection. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, the renewed intensity of anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles in the United States and elsewhere around the globe has led to the permanent collections – and collecting practices – of museums being put under the microscope for reasons that are decidedly less flattering but that politically speaking are potentially much more productive.