An Exploration of the Connections among Museums, Community and Heritage

Authored by: Elizabeth Crooke

The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity

Print publication date:  April  2008
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754649229
eBook ISBN: 9781315613031
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043249


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Community heritage is something that is often referred to but rarely defined. Indeed, depending on one’s relationship with the notion, definition is unnecessary and maybe even unhelpful. Instead, it is more useful to have a fluid and flexible idea of what community heritage might be, so that it can be moulded to different situations as they arise. This chapter considers the relationships among community, museums and heritage. On the one hand this can be approached from the perspective of the museum which has created community-based exhibitions and collections, and on the other from that of the community group, which has developed a heritage dimension. Either perspective demonstrates that community and heritage projects are quite natural bedfellows, one lending creditability to the other. In doing so, community heritage is thought to be a means for social and economic development, local regeneration and political change. When considered, it is clear that community heritage initiatives, despite their appearance of being local and grassroots activities, will often reflect agendas that extend well beyond the community group. These might be the agendas of government, who have initiated the community initiatives, or that of social or political movements influencing the group.

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