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Genesis: Historical research
Reference:

Analysis of Domestic Historiographical Works on the History of Museum Business and the State of Russian Museum Historiography

Deveykis Marina

Postgraduate student, Department of Museology, Saint Petersburg State University

199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Mendeleevskaya line, 5

deveykis@bk.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-868X.2022.12.39367

EDN:

YZMXIK

Received:

10-12-2022


Published:

30-12-2022


Abstract: The purpose of the work is to identify, classify and analyze existing historiographical publications on the history of museum business. The study used general historical principles: objectivity, scientific and historicism, as well as methods of systematization and chronological. One of the significant features marking the latest trends in the Russian museum business can be characterized by the appearance of a significant number of publications devoted to the activities of museums, the history of their funds, collections, individual exhibits. At the same time, Russian museum literature has not received a broad historiographical assessment. Russian museologists drew attention to the incompleteness of the Russian historiography of museum business. This study was carried out for the first time, the result of it is the grouping of the entire set of submitted works according to the problem-thematic principle and conclusions on historical periods are given. According to the pre-revolutionary period, it should be noted that at that time the museum business was a fairly new type of professional activity, not fully formed and institutionalized. The Soviet period is characterized by increased research interest and attention to the problem of museums and the historiography of museum business. But the scientific and theoretical groundwork was still being formed at a slow pace. The democratization of society as a whole and the social sphere, education and culture has led to more extensive research of museum business. It is in the modern period that publishing and research activity is significantly increasing. In conclusion, promising directions for further research within the framework of the topic under consideration are presented.


Keywords:

historiographical works, museum history, museum historiography, periodisation, museum management, regional research, museum publications, Russian museology, museum field, classification of museums

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Despite the rather dynamic development of museology as a scientific discipline in Russia in recent years, it should be noted that a number of significant issues for this branch of scientific knowledge are still covered only to a very small extent. Such lacunarity is most clearly manifested in those areas that are related to historiography. The unevenness in the thematic coverage of topics in modern Russian museology results in the fact that the number of publications on the history of individual museums, collections, groups of museums, as well as on the formation of museum business, seems quite impressive, while generalizing works aimed at conceptualizing the entire process of the formation of the museum sphere in Russia remains insignificant. Earlier, Russian museologists have already drawn attention to the incompleteness of Russian museum historiography. Thus, Professor V. P. Gritskevich emphasized that there is still not enough literature considering the history and dynamics of the development of museum business in Russia, while the historiography of this problem is almost completely absent. At the same time, the author points out that it is impossible to apply the methodology characteristic of "socio-political" history to the historiography of museum business, therefore, the only possible way of historiographical understanding of museum business is to consider historical and museum thought [1, p. 41]. This point of view seems extremely radical, but one cannot disagree with the need for deep reflection on the development of ideas about the museum sphere. The scientist's remark about the need for an interdisciplinary historiographical approach, which would combine an appeal not only to museum historiographical sources, but also to such areas as cultural history or the history of ideas, as well as historiography, also seems very fair [1, p. 42].

According to O. S. Sapanzhi's apt remark, in modern Russian historiography of museum business, the historiography of individual museums or aspects of museology is largely developed, while the creation of a "general" historiography is only at an inchoate level. All this leads to the fact that, as the author points out: "Such a small number of historiographical works and, in general, some inattention to historiography gives rise to a number of serious methodological problems" [2, p. 198]. The unresolved nature of these problems leads to the fact that museology as a separate scientific discipline and its development in the historical perspective are poorly understood and structured [2, p. 199]. At the same time, the problem of periodization of the history of museum business remains unresolved.

The whole set of works that are somehow of historiographical interest can be conditionally divided by us into several groups. First of all, these are the studies that analyze the literature on the history of Russian museums in general. Next, we can highlight the works devoted to the museum sphere in certain regions of the country. Thirdly, it is worth noting the works devoted to the formation and development of individual museum profiles. In conclusion, it is necessary to specify as a separate category also historiographical studies of the history of specific museums.

Chronologically, the first group of historiographical works appears to be earlier. It is particularly worth mentioning the fundamental work "The Experience of Russian Historiography" by the Russian historian V. S. Ikonnikov, written at the end of the XIX century. Despite the fact that this work is largely devoted to the development of historical science in Russia as a whole, some parts of it were devoted to the museum sphere, which the author considers in the context of the preservation of monuments of the past. The breadth of the source material attracted by the author of the work, among which there are guidebooks, essays, catalogs, notes, allows us to talk about it as a kind of beginning of the national tradition of historiographical research of museum business in the country. The author analyzed certain aspects of archival, library and museum business for a fairly long period of time, from the birth of the Russian state to the XIX century, and also gave a certain characteristic of the trends that were inherent in this area in various periods of its formation. V. S. Ikonnikov traces in his research the evolution of the protection of cultural heritage monuments and museum funds. He expanded the range of sources of his research by including periodical materials in them, which seemed quite innovative for this period. The author paid special attention to what the definition of a museum itself is and what specific features this definition was endowed with in the Russian context, as well as identifying what specific factors predetermined the development of museum business in Russia [2, pp. 200-201]. It also seems significant that V. S. Ikonnikov's attempt to include regional museums in the broad context of the formation of museum business in Russia is also significant, and the author focuses his attention on all corners of the Russian Empire. In addition, he also tried to give a certain classification of museums. From the point of view of modern museology, it seems to be largely outdated. However, an attempt at such a classification, albeit greatly simplified and formal, seems to be an undoubted advantage of the work. Nevertheless, despite all the possible advantages of this book, it should be noted that basically it is more of an encyclopedic nature, so there is nothing surprising in this nature of the presentation of the material. However, in our opinion, the "Experience of Russian Historiography" can be considered as a work that marked the beginning of the historiography of museum business, therefore it seems very important to consider it in the framework of our analysis. Although V. S. Ikonnikova himself treated his work quite critically [3, pp. 5-8], the high scientific theoretical significance of the work "The Experience of Russian Historiography" is obvious and recognized by domestic museologists.

The Russian museology had to wait more than a hundred years for a work on the history of museums that was equally large in its chronological scale and, more importantly, written already in the problematic channel of the work on the history of museums. In 2004, the extensive study of V. P. Gritskevich, already mentioned by us, "The History of Museum business until the end of the XVIII century," was published. The most interesting part of Gritskevich's work is the chapter devoted to methodological issues of museum historiography. The researcher focuses on historiographical sources on the history of museum business, covering the period from the end of the XVIII century to 2003. V. P. Gritskevich analyzes in detail the works on the history of museums in a number of countries in Europe and the USA, and also highlights the very specifics of museum business in Western countries. Early works related to the museum business in one way or another are subjected to scrupulous analysis. Museology as a separate scientific discipline, as he rightly notes, arises only at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries, when museum congresses and periodicals appear. The review of Russian historiography in Gritskevich's work seems somewhat vague within the framework of a general historiographical analysis. The author practically does not try to fit the experience of domestic museology into the wide experience of museum construction in the world, listing the works of European and American authors separated by commas with domestic ones. In addition, the scientist completely ignores pre-revolutionary publications on the museum sphere, which is an undoubted disadvantage of his work, since a large layer of Russian museum thought was not covered. Gritskevich's work did not present the results of scientific research by such researchers as I. G. Bakmeister, I. G. Georgi, F. P. Adelunga. Nevertheless, Gritskevich's critical assessments of the state of the problems of Russian historiography as a whole seem to be fair: "The totality of these works, having their undoubted value, still does not create a holistic picture of the development of museum business in the world" [1, p. 58].

Around this time, the collective generalizing study "The Museum Business of Russia" was published [4]. This monograph is of a scientific nature, and it reviewed the works devoted to the problems of the development of museum business in Russia. The historiography of museum activity in Russia, as the authors rightly point out, dates back to the moment of the birth of museums in Russia in general, that is, from the XVIII century. All of them were descriptive and general in nature. However, the descriptive nature of the research, due to the subject and the chosen methodology, inherent in most of the publications analyzed by the authors, does not negate the fact that early works marked the beginning of the study of the problem and the formation of the Russian tradition of museum historiography. The authors of the work also attempt to classify museum studies, raises and develops the topic of periodization of museum business in Russia. It is also indicative of the appeal to the sociocultural aspects of the life of St. Petersburg society of the Nicholas era - first of all, to the processes of democratization of public thought and the expansion of the sphere of periodicals. The Soviet period of studying the history of museum business, associated with the names of F. I. Schmit, N. I. Vorobyov, G. L. Malitsky, is considered in more detail in the work. This to a certain extent negates the significance of pre-revolutionary historiography. Considering the post-Soviet stage of the development of museological historiography, the authors note the expansion of the research field, the regionalization of research, the introduction of new scientific sources into scientific circulation, but above all the change of research issues due to the rejection of political dogma. Nevertheless, the expansion and "emancipation" of the museum and more broadly the humanitarian sphere of scientific knowledge did not lead to the formation of a relevant methodological and historiographical base. Within the framework of modern historiography, the authors have identified "white spots" in the history of museum business in Russia, namely, "the lack of scientific periodization of the history of museum business", which seriously complicates further research [4, p. 28]. Despite the fact that such a periodization is given in the book, in our opinion, it is not sufficiently clear and acceptable.

The development of regional historiography begins only in the modern period of history. In our opinion, this is an important and promising direction in Russian museology, which is under development. The experience of the historiography of the regional history of museums is important for our research in methodological terms.

Regional studies on the history of museum business in Russia are mainly devoted to large Russian regions. Thus, the work of E. A. Belyakova "Historiography and sources on the history of museum business in the Altai Republic (1918-2008)" [5, pp. 11-15], on the example of publications by Siberian authors G. V. Naidakova, O. N. Truevtseva, P. V. Vinokurova et al., reveals the features of the construction of museum business in various regions of Siberia. According to Belyakova, all those works that are somehow connected with Siberian museums have one characteristic in common they all pay considerable attention to the revision of the concept of the development of the museum sphere, the role of museums in modern society. The considered works reflect: the history of the emergence of museums, their social functions, the role in the implementation of state policy for the preservation of the culture of peoples, the peculiarities of the formation of the museum network, the activities of public museums, the development of the local history movement. Despite the positive trends, the author comes to a disappointing conclusion: "The degree of study of the museum network is characterized by a relatively small, in quantitative terms, the volume of publications and the lack of monographic research" [5, p. 12]. In addition, Belyakova also notes the insufficient development of the source base within the historiography of Siberian museums. She points out that the array of sources available to researchers as a whole allows us to recreate the main stages and dynamics of the state museum policy, but many of these sources have not yet been introduced into scientific circulation.

Another interesting work seems to us to be N. A. Tomilov's article "The History of Museums in Russia: issues of periodization" [6]. The author emphasizes that in recent decades, the analysis of the history of Russian museums (municipal, departmental and public) has begun to take on a purposeful character. He also believes that the work on the preparation and publication of a series of works on the history of the leading museums of Siberia can become a landmark phenomenon of the modern period.

In the article L. A. Lozova "The formation of the historiography of museum business in Western Siberia (1920s)" [7] reviewed publications on the history of museum business in the West Siberian region. The author reviews articles of mainly Soviet periodicals. Lozovaya examines the points of view of various authors on Siberian museums, on the experience of restructuring museum activities in a new socialist way.

O. N. Shelegina in her monograph "The Museum World of Siberia: History and Modern Trends" [8] comes to a number of conclusions that allow us to state certain methodological difficulties of Russian museum historiography. First of all, it is the fragmentation and heterogeneity of the topics addressed by domestic museum specialists, which leads to the almost complete absence of any consistency here. The author believes that regional museology needs a solid and thorough foundation that makes it possible to create a conceptual study on the history of museums in a particular region. It is worth noting that in this region the scientific and theoretical problem of "periodization of the history of Siberian museums" is being posed and is relevant [8, p. 50].

In the article by K. O. Zherebtsova "On the historiography of the Museum business of Novosibirsk" [9], the main works since the 1920s are briefly considered in chronological order, and on the basis of their study, the development of the museum business of Novosibirsk is briefly traced. However, it is worth noting the lack of conclusions on the review.

The article "The main directions in the study of the history of the museum of Buryatia (late XIX early XXI century)" is also interesting [10], where the main results of research on this region in the pre-revolutionary, Soviet and Russian periods are determined on the basis of the identified set of sources. The methodological reasons for turning to the museum sphere and museum historiography, given by the authors in this article, are also important. Researchers believe that this is relevant to the extent that it reveals a whole cultural layer of the history of the region and the country as a whole an important remark that emphasizes the need to fit museum history into the framework of broad political and cultural transformations in Russia.

Thus, regional studies are of particular value for our research, since they represent a rich methodological material for our work.

Turning to the next historiographical category we have identified, namely the historiography of profile museums, it should be noted its special importance for a comprehensive analysis of the museum sphere, since the analysis of the development of profile museums allows us to more deeply comprehend the stages of museum transformation in Russia as a whole. In this regard, first of all, it is necessary to highlight the work that was carried out in the magazine "Kazan Museum Bulletin" by the Soviet museologist G. L. Malitsky. In the article "Literature on the theory of historical and archaeological museums" the author conducts a wide review of domestic and foreign publications on the development of historical and archaeological museums. He notes a number of shortcomings and gaps in the study and understanding of the experience of museum business; recognizes the fact that the available sources are not systematized, "just as a general bibliographic reference book on the theory and practice of humanitarian museums in general has not yet been compiled" [11, p. 202]. G. L. Malitsky in his research attempts to eliminate existing lacunae, in particular, forms its own bibliographic list. Among the shortcomings of the work, we note the author's excessive attention to the experience of museums in European countries, primarily Germany and the Czech Republic. The domestic experience, which was accumulated already at the end of the XIX century due to the interest in archaeological excavations and the appearance of new museums in such Russian cities as St. Petersburg, Vladimir, Odessa, Ryazan, Tver, is somewhat ignored and underestimated. Of the domestic museums, a more or less significant place in the study is given to the Historical Museum in Moscow. Ignoring the Russian experience leads the author to certain simplifications and ambiguous conclusions.

In the monograph "Ethnographic science and museums" [12] T. V. Stanyukovich criticized the publications available in pre-revolutionary Russian historiography, emphasizing their predominantly analytical nature, the absence of a critical component and insignificant practical significance. Analyzing and comprehending the formed scientific and theoretical approaches, the author notes how the beginning of research in the field of ethnography is the time period from the 30s of the twentieth century. Incomplete coverage of pre-revolutionary materials in the literature also does not seem justified.

One of the few articles devoted specifically to pre-revolutionary issues is the collective article "Historical Museums of Russia in pre-revolutionary historiography" [13]. In it, the authors reviewed pre-revolutionary publications on museums of the local region in Krasnoyarsk, Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, Irkutsk, Barnaul and other cities. The authors link the development of historical museums with socio-political transformations in the country, as well as with the broad processes of transformation of historical science, which is undoubtedly important.

A significant contribution to the development of museum historiography for individual museums in our country was made by the monograph "The History of the Hermitage Art Gallery (1764-1917)" [14] by V. F. Levinson-Lessing, an employee of the State Hermitage. Working with archival materials and primary sources, including albums, guidebooks, catalogs, brochures, allowed us to restore the chronology and picture of the evolution of the museum. This monograph is an excellent example of a full-fledged study devoted to one specific profile museum.

Of particular interest is the article by A. N. Kozlova "The history of the creation of the museum-cabinet of D. I. Mendeleev at the Imperial St. Petersburg University", since chronologically the creation of this museum belongs to the pre-revolutionary period [15]. The author presents publications about the history of the creation of the museum-cabinet of D. I. Mendeleev for the entire period of its existence. Nevertheless, the researcher cites only one work before 1917; further publications about the museum are given only since 1948.

Based on the analysis , it can be stated:

1. Major generalizing works on the history of museum business appear mostly in the 2000s. Nevertheless, in the future, this direction has not received too much development. It should be noted that common works eventually give way to regional directions.

2. Regional historiography is today a very important and necessary vector in the development of historical museology. Based on the studied works, it can be concluded that the study of museum business and its historiography in large cities of Siberia has received the greatest reflection in publications. Historiographical research on museum business in the central part is currently scarce. In our opinion, insufficient attention to the general history of the development of museums in the central regions of Russia, especially in the capital, is caused by the presence of a large reservoir of research literature on specific large museums. In our opinion, writing the regional history of the museums of St. Petersburg on the basis of archival materials and published sources is extremely useful for understanding the formation of museum activities in the context of the development of the cultural environment of the city itself.

The results of our analysis allow us to draw some conclusions on historical periods:

- The pre-revolutionary period is characterized by little attention to the scientific and theoretical understanding of museum business. As reasons, it should be noted that at that time the museum business was a fairly new type of professional activity, not fully formed and institutionalized, in the process of accumulation and systematization of factual material on the problems of museum business.

- The Soviet period is characterized by increased research interest and attention to the problem of museums and the historiography of museum business. But the scientific and theoretical groundwork was still being formed at a slow pace. In our opinion, this was due to the fact that the priority of humanitarian knowledge remained ideological issues related to the study of Marxist-Leninist approaches to history, where the development of museums was not given due attention.

- The democratization of society as a whole and the social sphere, education and culture has led to more extensive research of museum business. It is in the modern period that publication and research activity is significantly increasing, which is also associated with the development of information technologies, the emergence of specialized educational institutions and departments for the training of museum specialists.

Thus, our analysis of the existing most significant historiographical works on museum business allowed us to identify several promising and problematic areas: This is a historiographical review of publications on poorly researched topics; the inclusion of the history of museum business in the broader context of political, cultural, social and intellectual transformations of Russian society; the formation of a more holistic and thorough methodological basis for writing a unified regional history of museums in Russia.

References
1. Gritskevich V. P. (2004) History of Museum Business to the End of the 18th Century.-SPb.: SPbGUKI,-408 .
2. Sapanzha O. S. (2013) Historiography of museology, museology, museography: To the question of the division of concepts // Voprosy museologii. 2(8). . 197-205.
3. Ikonnikov V. S. (1891) Experience of Russian historiography. . 1. Kiev.
4. Museum business in Russia. (2010) Edited by Kaulen M.E., Kosova I.M., Sundieva A.A.-M.: Publishing house "VK".-676 .
5. Belyakova E. A. (2009) Historiography and sources for the museum work history in Altai Republic (1918-2008 years) // Proceedings of Altai State University.- 4-2.-. 11-15.
6. Tomilov N. A. (2011) History of Museums in Russia: questions of periodization // Gribushin readings-2011. At the Crossroads of Traditions, Epochs, Continents. Kungur. . 379-382.
7. Lozovaya L. A. (2013) The Formation of Historiography of Museum Business of Western Siberia (1920s) // Bulletin of Tomsk State University. History. 6. . 199-201.
8. Shelegina O.N. (2014) Museum World of Siberia: History and Modern Trends of Development.-Novosibirsk.
9. Zherebtsova K. O. (2018) To the historiography of museum work in Novosibirsk // Bulletin of Tomsk State University. Culturology, Art History. 32. . 135-143.
10. Tsyrempilova I. S., Nemchinova T. A. (2019) Main Directions in the Study of Buryatia's Museum History (late 19th-early 21st centuries) // Manuscript. . 12. V. 7. PP. 74-78.
11. Malitsky G. L. (1922) Literature on the Theory of Historical and Archaeological Museums // Kazan Museum Bulletin.- 2.-. 200-213.
12. Stanyukovich T. V. (1978)Ethnographic Science and Museums.-L.: Nauka,-285 .
13. Sinitsyn O. V., Sinitsyn K. R. (2008) Historical Museums of Russia in Pre-Revolutionary Historiography. // Bulletin of TGGPU, No. 3. . 4-10.
14. Levinson-Lessing V. F. (1985) History of the Hermitage Picture Gallery.-.-408 .
15. Kozlova A. N. (2016) History of the Museum-Cabinet of D. I. Mendeleev at the Imperial St. Petersburg University // Voprosy museologii. 1. . 60-68.

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Analysis of domestic historiographical works on the history of museum business and the state of Russian museum historiography // Genesis: Historical Research. The intensive development of modern museums is greatly facilitated by the state program for the preservation of national heritage in the field of culture, as well as new principles of technical support for museum exhibitions. Tourist flows significantly increase the number of museum visitors. New challenges and opportunities encourage increased attention to museology as an important part of the historical sciences. This explains the relevance of the reviewed article. However, the title, in the opinion of the reviewer, has an internal contradiction. The analysis of domestic historiographical works is the essence of museum historiography, and the state of the science of "museum historiography" is the subject of research of this science. Based on the studied works, the author came to the conclusion that the best way to study museum business and its historiography is in large cities of Siberia. Therefore, the main focus of the article is on the history of Siberian museums, which stand out from other regions in terms of their influence. The article presents a peculiar grouping of museological literature, which includes literature about Russian museums in general, about regional museums, about specialized museums and "individual museums" (probably the largest museums with international authority). The article highlights the "methodological difficulties of Russian museum historiography" and in this regard, the opinion is expressed that there is a need to "revise the concept of the development of the museum sphere." The analysis made it possible to "identify several promising and problematic areas: This is a historiographical review of publications on poorly researched topics; the inclusion of the history of museum business in the broader context of political, cultural, social and intellectual transformations of Russian society; the formation of a more holistic and thorough methodological basis for writing a unified regional history of Russian museums." The periodization of the historiography of museology proposed at the end of the article corresponds to three global periods of Russian history: pre-revolutionary, Soviet and modern. However, there is no single internal criterion for periodization, since the pre-revolutionary period is singled out as an independent one because at that time, according to the author, there were no methodological principles and there was "little attention to the scientific and theoretical understanding of museum business." The Soviet period is characterized by the priority of humanitarian knowledge, the predominance of ideological issues "related to the study of Marxist-Leninist approaches to history." The modern period is characterized by "the development of information technologies, the emergence of specialized educational institutions and departments for the training of museum specialists." The bibliographic list reflects the most important literature on museology. The article will arouse the interest of different layers of readers, primarily museum workers. Despite some controversy, I recommend publishing the reviewed article in order to launch a professional discussion on the historiography of museology.