LABOUR HERITAGE: PERFORMING AND REMEMBERING
DOI link for LABOUR HERITAGE: PERFORMING AND REMEMBERING
LABOUR HERITAGE: PERFORMING AND REMEMBERING book
Within the heritage industry critique, heritage and tradition emerged as commodities that could be packaged and sold to largely uncritical mass audiences (Strangleman 1999: 741). While the elite house museum was criticized in this literature, it was also concerned with concurrent radical changes occurring in curatorial attitudes within museums, and the burgeoning numbers of museums themselves. During the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of ‘museums’ changed radically, and the ‘new museology’ challenged the traditional ideas of curatorial expertise and objectivity, and occasioned the usual intellectual angst and insecurities these challenges inevitably give rise to. The museum industry expanded, the range of different types of museums grew, and the numbers of museums overall (in particular ecomuseums) and heritage centres catering to specific regions or historical or cultural themes and/or periods dramatically increased. The ways in which exhibitions were presented and interpreted also changed radically in this period. Technological innovations facilitated the new desire for more interactive audience participation, which was being fostered by changing curatorial agendas, and a wider range of interpretive strategies were introduced (Knell 2003). These included the use of costumed interpreters and demonstrators, actors and other dramatists, whilst community outreach and other innovative community education policies developed and expanded. Although many of these changes were, and continue to be, viewed positively within sectors of the museum literature, the advent of the new museology, together with the rapid expansion of museum types, and thus audience numbers, drew sustained criticism – if not a backlash. This critique viewed such developments as ‘inauthentic’, catering to a synthetic and sanitized view of the past designed simply to generate tourist revenue through, at best ‘infotainment’, and, at worst, ‘Disneyfication’. While this may not have been a new issue in museums, it was a critique that came to be specifically directed at attempts to incorporate diversity of viewpoints and other innovations into museum practice.