Folk museums in diverse societes – Visitors’ experiences with difference and belonging

This research project focuses on vistors' experiences in events in folk museums in South East Norway. The project is multidisciplinary and brings together scholars from museums and universities to conduct visitor studies in the time period 2019-2021.

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Title: Folk museums in diverse societes – Visitors’ experiences with difference and belonging
Duration: 2019-2021
Funding: about 90.000 euros from Norwegian Arts Council (museum development funds targeting research)

The project is guided by the following main research question:
What dimensions of diversity can be identified in the public programs (events) of folk museums, and how are these dimensions reflected in visitors' experiences?

The underlying notion here is that folk museums were (initially) built ideologically to distinguish distinctive Norwegian or regional culture (most commonly represented by pre-industrial peasant society). While many events in these settings today strive for a  seemingly harmless taste of the old days, our research focus assume that today's visitors are diverse in their interests, social and cultural background, and certainly in their way of coproducing experiences. Diversity can then be approached from the ways that the museum present particular and distinct ‘minority culture’  within these events, or, diversity can be seen as a product of visitors' experiences, in the way they feel alien to history and heritage, have a minority identity themselves, or in their encounters of for example ‘minority culture’ at the museum.

Here are some examples of the more specific questions we ask:

In what ways do visitors ‘take posession’ and find their own ways through these events to make up their own meaning?

How do experiences of ‘old days events’ matter for visitors’ place-based identites?

How do families’ affective engagements in ‘old days events’ deal with cultural diversity and recognition of differences?

The project will arrange an open research seminar around 2020/2021 where initial findings will be presented. The results of the project will be published in a peer reviewed edited book with invited contributions. Please get in touch if you are interested in the seminar or contributing with a research based article.

The project is a collaboration between the following researchers and institutions:

Glomdalsmuseet - Anno museum
Sigurd Nielsen - Førstekonservator og prosjektleder

Norsk Utvandrermuseum - Anno museum
Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger - Dr. art. Historie og avdelingsdirektør

Valdresmusea – Valdres Folkemuseum 
Ole Aastad Braaten - Direktør
Anne Marit Noraker - Konservator

Randsfjordmuseet – Hadeland Folkemuseum 
Hans-Philip Einarsen - Direktør
Maja Leonardsen Musum - Leder - seksjon for formidling

Høgskolen i Innlandet
Thor Andre Skrefsrud - Professor
Kristin Skinstad van der Kooij - Førsteamanuensis

NTNU
Trond Solhaug - Professor

Uppsala Universitet
Tina Mathisen - Ph.D Stipendiat