SammendragSince the foundation in 1894 of Norsk Folkemuseum as a museum devoted to the culture of "the Norwegian people", the meaning of that concept has been revised by the museum time and time again. Such changing attitudes were also reflected in its organization: From an initial distinction simply between "the city" and "the countryside" more elements were introduced, with a new department devoted to the life and culture of industrial workers, while another department since the 1950s documented and studied the culture of the Sami, who until then had been under the responsibility of the Ethnographic Museum. This last addition to the museum clearly implied a reconsideration of traditional ideas about the ethnic composition of the nation. New challenges have arisen in later years as a result of the increased immigration from Non-European countries since around 1970. Several projects have recently been initiated in the museum in response to this new situation. This paper deals with one such project.
The exhibition A Pakistani Home in Norway, which opened in 2003, is the first permanent museum exhibition dealing with contemporary immigrant life in Norway. The home of a Pakistani family living in Oslo was extensively documented and formed the basis for the exhibition, although some features were consciously altered in order to protect the integrity of the informants. The project posed a number of problems new to the museum, such as how to foresee what possible sanctions informants might experience from others in the local Pakistani community. Cooperation with the informants, e.g. in shopping for exhibition items, brought unexpected insight into various aspects of local Pakistani culture. Although the exhibition does not touch explicitly upon issues central to current public debate, such as integration, marriage patterns and gender roles, the author argues that the exhibition may well constitute a starting point for discussions about such topics. Also, the experiences encountered during the process of creating the exhibition may be useful for other multicultural museum projects in coming years.
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