A digital platform conveying, sharing and cohering the interdisciplinary and multifarious investigations developed by the MeLa research project.

Adopting the notion of "migration" as a paradigm of the contemporary global and multi-cultural world, MeLa investigates new roles and practices for twenty-first century museums in Europe.

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Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

A centre dedicated to the history of immigration in France and the immigrants’ cultures, located in a palace built for 1931 Colonial Exhibition.


Imperial War Museum

One of the first war museums that introduced different themes connected to a more articulated concept of war


Migration Museums as Sites of Memory

Architecture intensely participates to the museums narration in institutions devoted to immigration as Ellis Island, BallinStadt, and Red Star Line.


Musée royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren

A museum and research centre devoted to enhance the history and the present of Central African societies and territories.


Liquid Museaum of Mediterranean Culture

A design proposal for a nomadic museum documenting and displaying migrations, multiple identities and cultural hybridisations in the Mediterranean Sea


Museum as a "dispositif"

This essay and the related case studies investigate a new type of mobile, nomadic and diasporic space for XXI century museums.


Museion: Cubo Garutti

A new temporary and exhibit device outside the museum wall and open to the community


Archive and Document

Video about these objects of research


Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (ASAC)

Documenting and archiving exhibitions


History of Temporary Exhibitions

A bibliography



An internet archive of artistic avant-garde material


Prelinger Archives

Rick Prelinger and the “archival anxiety syndrome”


Redefining the Lobby of the MACBA Study Center

Promoting documentary heritage through a flexible space that facilitates interaction with the public


Forum della Città Mondo: plural voices for a world culture museum

Participatory practices to enhance the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Museo delle Culture of Milan.


Representing Museum Technologies

This case study sourcebook is a snapshot, a distillation of contemporary practice by museums and cultural institutions.


Art Mobs

A project about personalised and unofficial audio guides.



Free2choose stimulates reflection about human rights and freedom.


Les Statues Meurent Aussi

Chris Marker and Alain Resnais' film about exhibiting African artefacts in European, using innovative camera and media techniques in its composition.


Transforming Mirrors

Essay on interactive technologies in the context of Museums and Design



ARTours is an augmented-reality project, proposing an innovative use of mobile technologies presenting and interpreting the museum's collection.


Who do you think you really are?

Interactive and immersive learning experience aimed at involving the young audience in an engaging journey to discover humans’ evolutionary past.


Fabrica: les yeux ouverts

Temporary and travelling exhibition involving visitors in an engaging and performative experience with a multimedia museum approach.



As for the Critical Archive, WikiLeaks is an archive of unofficial, unsanctioned informations and dossiers.


Making Things Public

The exhibition Making Things Public addresses the challenge of renewing politics by applying to it the spirit of art and science.


Walkthrough: Towards a Methodological Potential

Walkthrough Research: Methodological Potentials for Head-mounted Cameras as Reflexive Tools in Museum Contexts


The Beauty of Letting Go

Sven Ouzman writes in "The Beauty of Letting Go" about the perishable, cracked and imperfect nature of all archives.


How We Think

In this essay, N. Katherine Hayles outlines the "idea that we think through, with, and alongside media”


Living Archive -- Van Abbemuseum

Documenting and archiving exhibitions


The institutional archive of the Centre Pompidou

Documenting and archiving exhibitions


Document vs Artwork

The dividing line traditionally separating the categories of document and work of art has been overcome in the context of contemporary art


Miralda, a practical case of an artist’s archive

Documenting and archiving exhibitions



Wolfgang Ernst,Professor of Media Theories at the Humboldt University, Berlin, reflects on the archive and on the 'anarchive'


Proxemics and performative narratives for museum experiences

Narrative framework in museum paths. Performances and new kinds of proxemics in intercultural experiences.


Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Victoria Walsh & Bartomeu Marí

Abu Hamdan shares his research on the relation between speech / language the body and truth in his collaboration with 'Transfiguratons'


Quinsy Gario, Jelle Bouwhuis & Kerstin Winking

Writer, performance artist and media personality Quinsy Gario was part of the research exhibition 'Transfigurations'


Interview with the designers of 'Transfigurations' publication

Berthod and Brash discuss the challenges of designing a research publication and the paradox between research as process and publication as object


European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework

Exploring current trends in the evolution of exhibition design practices triggered by this “age of migrations”.


The Sackler Hall, Museum of London

An hybrid multifunctional space at the core of the renovated Museum of London


Proactive Spaces

A short essay exploring a spatial and museographical feature of XXI century museums


Introduction to 'Transfigurations' publication

An introduction to the second research publication realised within Research Field 04, Curatorial and Artistic Research


Multi-layered Religion Representation in Museums

An experimental action promoted by the MeLa Project at the Museo Diocesano in Milan to explore religious assets as potential cross-cultural heritage


Gifting the living memories of migration

Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration is engaged in collecting, preserving, documenting and disseminating the living memory of migration


Cultural networking and cultural policies

An overview of the emergence of migrating heritage, the changing landscape of cultural networking and suggestions for cultural policies


Living Library

Bringing oral history, human rights, pluralism and democratic participation alive in civil society


Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Essay on Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and interview with its Chief Executive Joan Abellá and Head of the Study Center Mela Dávila


Mental health and cultural diversity

Essay on Museo Laboratorio della Mente in Rome and interview with its director Pompeo Martelli



Essay on SUDLAB and interview with its director Antonio Perna


A museum as a router and facilitator on cultural dialogue

Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration is connecting people and facilitating debate on cultural dialogue, social inclusion and migration


The repatriation question

An essay on the contested politics of repatriation of human remains from the perspective of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle


ZKM | Center for Art and Media

Essay on ZKM | Center for Art and Media and interview with Head of ZKM | Museum Communication Janine Burger


Cultural policy making, cultural dialogue and creative arts

The European Cultural Foundation works on policy strategies, legislative frameworks, funding programs and partnerships across Europe and beyond


€urovisions: looking at Europe from the migrant's perspective

Performing the contemporary story of immigration in Europe, the evolving role of the media and our interaction with representations of immigration


Idea Store

Essay on innovative library Idea Stores in London



A transnational online portal, an interface to millions of digitised books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records of European heritage


Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

A French national museum as research centre on the history and contribution of immigration, participatory place for dialogue and network leader


Documentary 'We don’t want to work for war'

The story of Italian immigrants killed in 1943 while demonstrating against the war, learned and narrated by contemporary immigrants


Essay: Defining 'Belonging'

Belonging exists in representational form in museum displays as implicit or explicit projections of group identity.


Museum of World Cultures, Gothenburg

Identity objects


Essay: Defining 'Identity Places'

Museums and heritage sites provide a physical catalogue of identity objects and identity places, with which visitors can negotiate personal identities


Hybrid Objects: Museum of European Cultures

‘Hybrid’ objects which are made to stand as emblematic celebrations of contemporary multiculturalism in Western Europe.


Transgeographical displays

Multi-geographical perspectives can constructively problematize and render the complexity of place identities, identity objects and place histories


National Museums, Globalization, and Postnationalism

National Museums, Globalization, and Postnationalism:Imagining a Cosmopolitan Museology


Museum of World Cultures

Colonial objects can be resources for pride or regret


Fare gli italiani 1861-2011. 150 anni di storia nazionale

Temporary exhibition on the Italy's history, exploring the differences of a Nation within a narration of intangible contents.


A Oriente. Città, uomini e dei sulle Vie della Seta

Temporary exhibition on the migrating multicultural heritage along the Silk Route


Meanwhile, Vasa Museum

Meanwhile exhibition is a mosaic of stories in the first half of the 17th century that tell about meetings of civilisations that change the world.


Rethinking the Intangibile Cultural Heritage within museums

Rethinking the exhibit and experience of Intangibile Cultural Heritage as trans-cultural performative process within museums


Text on 'Oral Museum Of The Revolution'

Bartomeu Marí's text traces the historical lineage of sound-based art and argues for the new emphasis on orality and voice-based art at MACBA


Entwining Layers: Experimenting with Multi-layering Pratices

The experimentation with innovative conceptual and physical design practices enhancing a multi-layered upgrade of museums’ programmes and messages.


Museums and Identity in History and Contemporaneity

Mela policy document detailing the findings of RF01, Newcastle University.


"Placing" Europe in the Museum: People(s), Places, Identities

This book represents the proceedings of Mela's first conference entitled "Placing" Europe in the Museum: People (s), Places, Identities, held in 2012.


Placing Migration in European Museums

Book - Placing Migration in European Museums: Theoretical, Contextual and Methodological Foundations


Essay on 'To Each Present, Its Own Prehistory'

The institutional failure to recognise ethnic artist-subjects in post-war Britain and the problematics of the artistic category ‘the contemporary’


Text on 'Archiving The Immaterial: Old Problems, New Challenges'

A text that discusses the changes demanded of the museum and its archival structures in the wake of contemporary process-based artistic practices


Leo Asemota & Paul Goodwin

The complexity of Leo Asemota’s work and the challenges it poses to exhibiting institutions and curatorial practice.


Kader Attia & Sofia Victorino

Attia shares his research into various African musical genres in this lecture on the phenomena of re-appropriation used as repair within cultures


'One Nation: Five Million Voices', National Museum of Scotland

Film featured in 'Scotland: A Changing Nation', an exhibition of the 20th and 21st Centuries, in the National Museum of Scotland


Essay: Defining 'Display'

Display is a technology for constructing knowledge and for theorizing about the world or aspects of the world


Essay: Defining 'Constitution Moments'

Constitution moments are historicized identities constituted in museum representations of pivotal and emblematic moments in history


Essay: Defining 'Identity Objects'

Identity objects are objects that assume value through their association – usually tangible and material – with place


Visual Narratives of Migration

Migration (in) Museums: A reflection on display structures for the representation of migration in European contemporary museums.


Europeana 1914-1918. Your family history of World War One

A pan-European WWI archive of artifacts and stories usable for research, education, and exhibitions, collected by user contributions


Camille Henrot & Mélanie Bouteloup

'The Pale Fox and the Taxidermist: A Foray into Camille Henrot’s Research' was the project Camille Henrot presented as part of ‘Transfigurations’


Fare gli Italiani 1861-2011

A temporary exhibition celebrating the idea of belonging to a nation through an exploration of the multifaceted identity of Italian people.


MEN, The Ethnographic Museum of Neuchâtel

The MEN proposes an innovative way of curating and displaying temporary exhibitions, challenging the traditional practices of ethnographic museums.


Ghosting the Archive - A Postcolonial Artwork by Keith Piper

Artist Keith Piper develops an artistic reflection on the formation of archives and their ability to shape our reception of historical narrative.


Spaces of Invention - Essay on Race and Representation

The essay considers the aesthetic forms of bioracism as instruments of the inclusion of racism within modern and neoliberal States.


The Lampedusa Museum of Migrations

The Lampedusa Museum of Migrations as an example of a migrant and “in-between” space of contact and contamination between cultures, stories, lives.


Archive and Aspiration - Essay by Arjun Appadurai

In “Archive and Aspiration”, Arjun Appadurai highlights the centrality of alternative archives and practices of memorialisation for migrant subjects.


The Museum of European Normality - A Post-colonial Artwork

"The Museum of European Normality" is an installation aimed at exploring the role of museums and archives in the construction of European identity.


Seeds of Change - A Post-colonial Artwork by MT Alves

“Seeds of Change” is a project by Maria Thereza Alves questioning the geographical and natural history of places through collections of ballast seeds.


Archivio Memorie Migranti - An Association for Migrant Memories

Archivio Memorie Migranti is an Association promoting social and cultural development through a participatory method of self-narration by migrants.


Floating Coffins - A Post-colonial Artwork by Zineb Sedira

Sedira’s "Floating Coffins" is a video installation about the coastline of Mauritania, a point of departure for those seeking a better life in Europe.


A Museum of Traces - A Postcolonial Artwork by Zineb Sedira

“A Museum of Traces” is a video by Sedira that highlights the ambivalence of the relationship Algeria maintains with the colonial period.


Representation and the Media - Video-Lecture by Stuart Hall

In the video-lecture "Representation and the Media", cultural theorist Hall offers an insightful presentation of the concept of “representation".


Endless Conundrum - A Postcolonial Artwork by Kara Walker

In “Endless Conundrum” Walker plays with the idea of Africanity and primitivism by displaying a ‘totem-woman’ attracting many gazes.


The Palestinian Museum - Museum as a Post-territorial Space

The project of the Palestinian Museum reconfigures the museum into a post-territorial space, which implicates a new sense of citizenship.


WESTERN UNION - A Postcolonial Artwork by Isaac Julien

In Isaac Julien's WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007) the materiality of the images is used to investigate migration in the Mediterranean.


Egyptian Chemistry - A Postcolonial Artwork by Ursula Biemann

Investigating migration through matter, Biemann's "Egyptian Chemistry" highlights the importance of post-representative forms of narration.


A Critical Essay on Citizenship, Language and Modernity

How to conceive citizenship as an open-end concept, in which different languages, cultures and histories coexist?


Citizen and Subject - An Essay on Postcolonial Citizenship

Migratory movements invite us to rethink the formal definition of (European) citizenship.


Repair - A postcolonial artwork by Kader Attia

Different objects and images from ex-colonized African countries activate a disruptive encounter with a repressed history and materiality.


Karmacoma (Napoli Trip) by Massive Attack - Music as Archive

The track Karmacoma (Napoli Trip) provides an alternative map of memory of contemporary migrations, transported over space and time through sound.


Crossing Bodies - A Performance-Event at Pigorini, Rome

Crossing Bodies focuses on contemporary migration and identity from a post-colonial point of view.


Performing the Ethnographic Museum - A Performance-Event

Routes Agency and MK investigate contemporary migration and identity from a post-colonial point of view at Museo Pigorini, Rome.



An oral history project whose goal is to provide Americans of all backgrounds with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their stories.


Figures de l'Artifice

An exhibition promoted by the Musée d’Éthnographie in Neuchâtel to cross social practices, scientific research and popular myths on human body.


7 Billion Others Project

A video art project building an inclusive, egalitarian and multidirectional portrait of humankind.


Destination X: About Travelling From Different Perspectives

A temporary exhibition investigating different perspectives on the experience of travel at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.


99 Objects: Neukölln Museum

Mapping cultural objects through museum displays


The Lewis Chessmen: Transcultural Objects

Objects can be used to represent transcultural exchange by highlighting the interconnectedness of cultures and identities


The Migration Museum Project

A project aimed at creating a Migration Museum for Britain capable of taking the story of Britain’s heritage as a migrant nation around the country.


Dictionary of Concepts for Mobile Architecture

A theoretical contribution by Yona Friedman reflecting on mobility in architecture.


MAS Boulevard

The enhanced connection spaces at MAS | Museum aan der Stroom expand the cultural programme of the museum and foster its relationships with the city.


Paletti e catene

Converting the constraints and obstacles of the city into equipment for domestic living in the urban environment


The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

An early example of the kind of quantitative-interpretational approach to using media as reflective artefact for human experience.


Folding the exhibition

Documenting and archiving exhibitions / Recommended practices for archiving documentation of exhibitions


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

A museum focusing on the creation of innovative programs that actively engage local community members as partners.


The Memory of the Sea

A travelling photographic exhibition promoted within the MeLa Project, representing migration in real-time through the Sea Memory Museum in Zarzis


Mapping The Change, Hackney Museum

A participatory project to capture East London through the eyes of its people, as the city prepared for the Olympics.


Galata Museo del Mare

The first Italian museum to confront itself with the theme of immigration to the country in a permanent display.


German Emigration Center Bremerhaven

A migration museum using storytelling and narration to suggest an empathic, emotional approach to issues of immigration and emigration.



QRator enhances museum interpretation and engages visitors actively.


The Topography of Terror Documentation Center

A museum that represents a diversity of stories and memories related to the traumas of the Second World War


Essay on Migrating Heritage

We are witnessing a complex mixture of shift and continuities from the classic European identity-marking heritage to a contemporary migrating heritage


Musée de l'Histoire de l'Immigration

A museum displaying immigration through a thematical narration, using contemporary art side by side with historical documents in order to communicate.


Essay on 'Stored Code'

Essay on post-ethnographic museum challenges and on how to structurally rethink the connections established between cultures, people and objects


From Cultural Diversity to the Limits of Aesthetic Modernism

The impact of British cultural diversity policies on practices of audience development and the shortcomings of a modernist notion of spectatorship


Introduction to 'Agency, Ambivalence, Analysis' publication

First publication with a small number of useful contributions towards building an argument about the role of museums in a migratory society


The Secret Annex Online

The Secret Annex Online is a virtual navigation of the house at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam, where Anne Frank’s family lived during WW2.


A Matter Of Faith

Temporary exhibition dealing with religious issues, making visitors reflect upon their religious choice with interactive installations.

This website ensues from the Research Project MeLa - European Museums in an age of migrations, funded within the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (SSH-2010- 5.2.2) under Grant Agreement n° 266757.

MeLa - European Museums in an age of migra­tions is a four year interdisciplinary research project, funded in 2011 within the 7th Frame­work Programme of the European Commis­sion under the Social Sciences and Humanities. Adopting the notion of “migration” as a para­digm of the contemporary global, multicul­tural reality, MeLa reflects on the role of mu­seums and heritage in the twenty-first century Europe. The Project aims at investigating how and at what extent the significant changes in demo­graphic flows; the accelerated mobility and the resulting layerisation and hybridisation of contemporary societies and identities; the fluid circulation of information, ideas and cultures, and the consequent improvement of cultural encounters and cross-fertilisations; the politic, economic and cultural processes pertaining the creation and consolidation of the European Union, can affect and foster an overall transformation of contemporary Euro­pean museums. By considering their evolution both as cultural spaces and physical places, the main objective of the MeLa Project is to iden­tify innovative museum practices which may enhance their role in facilitating mutual un­derstanding and social cohesion and building a sharper awareness of an inclusive European identity.

Duration March 2011-February 2015 (48 months)

Funding scheme Collaborative Project (CP): small and medium scale research project

EU contribution 2.699.880,00 €

Consortium 9 partners (5 countries)

Coordinator Politecnico di Milano

MELA CONSORTIUM Politecnico di Milano (Coordinator), Italy – Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Denmark – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche ITIA, Italy – University of Glasgow, United Kingdom – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain – Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, France – The Royal College of Art, United Kingdom – Newcastle University, United Kingdom – Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, Italy.

Graphic design and UI/UX by Zetalab