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30 · 08 · 2019

Literature and the future of museums: The National Museum of Denmark goes to Brazil

Deputy director of The National Museum of Denmark visits Brazil to visit literature festivals and the director of The National Museum of Brazil


Besides being deputy director of the National Museum of Denmark, Jesper Stub Johnsen is the museum’s researcher, collection and conservation director. He started his visit in Rio de Janeiro at the Museu Nacional da Quinta da Boa Vista.


There, he had the opportunity to speak with the director Alexander Kellner and other staff members to exchange experiences and to learn more about the tragic fire that destroyed the museum at the end of last year. According to Kellner, the best way to help is to donate funds in support of the new exhibitions.


Johnsen had the opportunity to visit the rescue and conservation area, which is responsible for cleaning, categorizing, and organizing the objects and art pieces found in the ruins of the museum. It was uplifting to see everybody working through this arduous process with such a curiosity and optimism.


Click on the link below to watch a short interview with Jesper Stub Johnsen about his visit to the museum: Jesper Stub Johnsen at Museu Nacional da Quinta da Boa Vista.


Alexander Kellner and Jesper Stub Johnsen

Johnsen travelled to Paraty to take part in FLIP – Literary Festival of Paraty on Casa Europa. The purpose of Casa Europa, produced by EUNIC Brasil, is to create a space where professionals with specialty in Cultural Heritage can engage in discussions about the handling of the past in the present in search of possible future solutions, considering the recent incidents in the field of cultural heritage and world history.


On July 12th, Johnsen took part in a panel debate about the future of museums and their relevance in society, along with Juan Manuel Bonet (Spain), writer and art critic specialized in Brazilian culture. In his speech, Johnsen added his perspective to the discussion, explaining how museums come to be, what role they should have in the contemporary society, and what is left when a museum becomes ruins.


FLIP is a big annual festival, which gathers national and international intellectuals and a huge audience to talk about relevant issues with literature as focus. This year, in its 17th edition, the honored author was Euclides da Cunha,


The main event had an audience of 8,600. Casa Europa (House of Europe) is one of many ‘houses’ at FLIP, which have their own parallel agenda. You can have a look at them here.

Casa Europa – FLIP

The following week, FLUP, Literary Festival of the Suburbs, took place at Museu de Arte do Rio.


At the opening panel, Johnsen talked about the issue of how museums have prevented a process of reflection about what its narratives hide; at what cost – social, cultural, etc. – the exhibitions are built. The participants of the table were:


  • Antonio Forcellino – architect, writer and restorer, Italy
  • Juan Manuel Bonet – Arts critic, specialized in Brazilian culture, Spain
  • Jesper Stub Johnsen – Research, collections and conservation director of the National Museum of Denmark
  • Mario Chagas – Museum of Republic’s director, @um dos idealizadores do IBRAM, membro do Museu das Remoções, Brasil
  • Benoît de L’Estoile – writer and researcher of CNRS and IRIS, France
  • Mediation: Evandro Salles, director of Museu de Arte do Rio


Founded by Ecio Salles and Julio Ludemir, FLUP was created in 2012 with the purpose of being a formation space of new readers and writers of the suburbs of big Brazilian cities. It starts its activities in May with a sequence of meetings that extends until September.


In 2012, FLUP received the award for “Make a Difference” (O Globo); in 2016, the Excellence Awards (London Book Fair); Retratos da Leitura (Instituto Pró-Livro). This year’s theme was “Art, action and anticolonial thinking”. The festival brought together many professionals of various areas to discuss issues within this theme.


You can check out the complete agenda here.