Potter College News
WKU Faculty Showcase Collaborative Folklore and Museums Projects at Lund University, Lund Sweden
- Thursday, August 29th, 2019
Folk Studies faculty Brent Björkman and Ann K. Ferrell gave an invited presentation at the workshop, Heritage on the Move: Collaborative Engagements and New Museum Futures, held August 14-16 at Lund University, Sweden.
This workshop was the second step of a developing consortium of folklore and ethnology scholars in the US and Sweden engaged in collaborations between universities and museums, including both university-based and local museums.
In the first step, Lizette Gradén and Thomas O’Dell of Lund University and Kulteren Museum (Lund) visited Western Kentucky University in the spring of 2019 to learn about the collaborative work between the Kentucky Museum, Kentucky Folklife Program, and the Folk Studies program. During their stay—hosted by Björkman, Ferrell, and Tim Frandy (also of Folk Studies)—Gradén and O’Dell toured the Kentucky Museum and South Union Shaker Village, presented in Tim Frandy’s combined graduate and undergraduate course Museum Procedures and Preservation Techniques, and met with faculty and students.
In this next step, at Lund in August, US folklorists working with museums joined Swedish folklorists, ethnologists, and museum specialists to share models of collaborative projects. Ferrell and Björkman provided an overview of the history of collaboration between the Folk Studies graduate program and the Kentucky Museum and presented recent projects developed since 2014, when Björkman became director of the Kentucky Museum in addition to his position as director of the Kentucky Folklife Program. For instance:
In 2016, the exhibit Standing the Test of Time: Kentucky's White Oak Basket Tradition, curated by Björkman and Scottsville basketmaker and small business owner Beth Hester, showcased over twenty years of research by Björkman, Hester, numerous Folk Studies graduate students, and the Kentucky Folklife Program.
In 2017, A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green opened at the Kentucky Museum, based on a collaborative oral history project begun in 2015 by Folk Studies faculty (Björkman, Ferrell, and Kate Horigan), Kentucky Folklife Program staff (Virginia Siegel), and members of the Bowling Green Bosnian community. The oral history project continues, with all interviews archived in the WKU Folklife Archives, Library Special Collections.
Finally, Björkman described the current project in development, focused on the musical legacy of Southcentral Kentucky—once again, a collaboration between the Kentucky Museum, Kentucky Folklife Program, and the Folk Studies program. Each of these projects involves students in the research and development and funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The August workshop was funded by a collaboration initiative at Lund University to create incentives for university faculty to collaborate with external partners to focus on future challenges. In addition to WKU faculty, participants included folklorists and ethnologists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, Lund University, Linköpings University, Kulteren Museum, and Malmö (Sweden) City Archive. Participants are currently working to develop next steps in this effort.