Museums Configuring the Local

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Museums increasingly contribute to public development processes that include the promotion of heritage values in everyday urban and rural environments, such as historical buildings, city structures or landscapes. In Denmark taking part in municipal regulation and planning activities in order to safeguard preservation worthy assets in the physical and built environment is a law-given task for museums. This study examined three cultural historical museums as they engaged in heritage promotion and communication processes in the Danish towns Houlkær, Dronninglund and Gedsted. Based on interviews, fieldwork and the analysis of heritage-promoting acts, such as an exhibition, a book, a preservation style guide and public talks, the analysis identify how certain stories, recipients, and communication strategies make up configurations of local heritage and local heirs. While the study found that all three museums strived to stimulate care for heritage values among the public, local heritage and local heirs were configured in numerous ways. Stories worked to configure local heritage as more or less unique or ordinary, scoped by a more or less synchronic or diachronic perspective, and balanced between material or immaterial presences. Local heirs were configured as either inhabitants of certain areas, private house owners or public authorities. Combining places, stories and people museums communicatively configured the local, while they engaged in safeguarding preservation worthy assets in their surrounding societies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHeritage & Society
Issue number2-3
Pages (from-to)327-346
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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