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July 20, 2019

ICOM Kyoto 2019 reads | ‘Museums and Heritage Collections in the Cultural Economy’

For ICOM Kyoto 2019, we have selected for you a series of articles published in Museum International in connection with the theme of the plenary sessions.


Lizette Gradén & Tom O’Dell. 2016. ‘Museums and Heritage Collections in the Cultural Economy: The Challenge of Addressing Wider Audiences and Local Communities’, Museum International, Vol. 68, No. 3-4, pp.48-6.

Although more museums are opening now than at any time in the past, too little attention has been paid to the concrete ways in which cultural processes of commoditisation affect heritage production. How can collections speak to wider audiences as well as to local communities in ways that are economically sustainable? This is not a question that invites simple solutions. Turning to ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, this article focuses on The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle and Skokloster Castle near Stockholm to explore how these institutions negotiate public participation, engage new audiences, and adapt their operations to meet the demands of the cultural economy they operate in. Drawing on critical cultural theory, the article highlights how different cultural and economic contexts affect museums’ potential to develop, expand, and meet their objectives. The study explains how two particular museums struggle to open their collections to broader publics, which can be understood as part of a wider process of democratisation.

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