Projects

The program currently includes two funded research projects:

Beyond Dodos and Dinosaurs: Displaying Extinction and Recovery in Museums, is funded by the Norwegian Research Council with 8.246.000 NOK over the period October 2018 to December 2021.

This history project will examine how the history of species extinction and species recovery has been remembered and displayed publicly in nature-focused museums from the nineteenth century to today. As humans have become aware of the extinction or eminent end of non-human animal species over the last two hundred years, there have been active attempts to memorialize the loss. Each act of remembering extinction is an act that reanimates the lost species and re-enacts the actions that brought about its death. This project will explore the multifaceted narratives mobilized in the remembering of extinction and near extinction in museums. It will explore the multiple framings active simultaneously in museum displays, including loss, guilt, belonging, care, mourning, and celebration. The overarching objective of the project is to understand how extinction narratives in museums have been and could be constructed to strengthen the positive valuation of animal species.

The project asks three interrelated research questions: (1) How have museum displays told stories of extinction? (2) How have they marked the recovery of species which had been on the brink of extinction? (3) Do such exhibits have the potential to shape narratives and potentially affect how we act, thus changing the course of the sixth great extinction, one of the greatest challenges of our time?

“Beyond Dodos and Dinosaurs” is designed as a two-part study. One part is an exploration of museums as site of narratives about extinction; the other is an exploration of extinction recovery narratives in those same settings. Both parts investigate the narrative forms used in these public displays. The second part includes a public intervention through the development of a special exhibit at Elvarheim Museum that commemorates the near loss and conservation recovery of European beavers.

Extinction as Cultural Heritage? Exhibiting Human-Nature Entanglements with Extinct and Threatened Species, is funded through the Joint Programming Initiative for Cultural Heritage, an EU-funded initiative, from October 2018 to September 2021 for 454.187€. Funding for this project under the “Heritage in Changing Environments” call  is made possible through the cooperation of the Norwegian Research Council, Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and UK Arts & Humanities Research Council.

In this project, we will explore how cultural heritage institutions can engage with species extinction, as well as recovery of species threatened by extinction. We will investigate how the human-nature entanglements of contemporary extinction can be placed into cultural contexts within museum and art gallery exhibitions. The objectives of “Extinction as Cultural Heritage?” are to develop best practices for how the cultural significance of extinction events, whether they happened or were averted, can be displayed in museums and galleries; and to implement those best practices in three project exhibit spaces as a testing ground for the research.

The project relies heavily on co-creation and collaboration through workshops, artist commissioning, and public involvement. These activities will facilitate knowledge exchange and transfer during the developmental phase of the project. These activities include: 2-day critical, creative and participative interventions workshop at Manchester Museum; oral history collection in Åmli; collaborative workshops in the form of city walks and on location activities at Municipal Gallery Arsenal; and artistic production.

In this video, the EXTINCT PI Dolly Jørgensen gives a summary of the project’s components

Prior funded research projects in this program are:

Monuments to Extinction was funded by Birgit och Gad Rausings Stiftelse för Humanistisk Forskning in 2016 for 67.000 SEK. This was a pilot project to explore the remembrance of species extinction in monumental settings. The project included an examination of monuments in the US and UK, the design choices that went into them, the extinction histories reflected in the monuments, and the framing of the monuments by their creators. The data was gathered from site visits to physical monuments, press coverage of the monuments, and interview material from the artists/creators.