Between March 2019 and June 2020 the Museo Nacional de Arte (MNA) in La Paz found itself in a process of renewing its basic institutional guidelines. This process was based on three fundamental actions: "decolonise, democratise, deeliticise".
But what does it mean to decolonise a museum? Does it mean burning the museum, destroying its colonial architecture, destroying its colonial works?
The experience in the Plurinational State of Bolivia is specific. A desire to decolonise the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, for example, would imply starting from completely different premises than those that would be used to decolonise the Museo Nacional de Arte of La Paz. The process of decolonisation cannot make the same mistake as colonisation, which is to overthrow local habits and structures in order to impose a universal principle disregarding given preconditions. However, there are certain epistemological approaches and certain ethical and political principles that we can propose as indispensable principles, in an effort to intervene in the coloniality of the museum, an institution entirely based on 19th-century Eurocentric logic.
This conversation will also be live-streamed via this link.
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Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz is a Bolivian-German writer, curator and philosopher based in La Paz, Bolivia. From March 2019 to June 2020, he was the Director of the Museo Nacional de Arte (MNA) in La Paz, where he founded the museum's Program for Decolonial Studies in Art (PED) and was responsible for generating a historical change in the institutional profile. His work at the museum has been recognized by the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM), and is considered a reference in the international museum community for its developments in the fields of social inclusion and education. He has been a member of the Cologne-based Academy of the Arts of the World since 2018. His texts and cultural critique have been published in Spanish, German, English, Portuguese and French, in various formats in catalogues, magazines and international newspapers in Europe, Africa, USA and Latin America. Hinderer Cruz regularly publishes essays in the Bolivian newspaper La Razón.
The programme is supported by: Foundation for Arts Initiatives; European Commission’s Creative Europe programme; Kontakt Collection / ERSTE; Foundation Kultura Nova; Foundation Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Croatia; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia; City of Zagreb; Ammodo.
Isaac Callizaya, Visits in Aymara, Museo Nacional del Arte, La Paz, 2019 (photo by Jhonny Beltrán)