Understanding the Exhibitionary Characteristics of Popular Music Museums

Charles Fairchild

Abstract


The literature on the popular music museum has primarily focused on the study of heritage and cultural memory with a secondary focus on tourism. Given the unprecedented expansion of the museum sector worldwide in recent decades, which has produced an increasing number of major museums dedicated to popular music, it is an opportune time to expand this range of analytical concerns. Specifically, the development of popular music museums has not yet been closely examined within the broader historical trajectory of the so-called ‘new museum.’ This article seeks to outline the range of exhibitionary types commonly used in a range of high-profile popular music museums in pursuit of this line of inquiry. The goal is not simply to produce a generic survey or typology of displays, but to place the use of different forms of museum display within the specific historical trajectory that has produced steadily larger numbers of these kinds of museums in recent years. I organize these exhibitionary types into two broad streams of museum exhibition practice implied in the historical survey presented here: a populist-vernacular stream of museum display and an institutional-educational one. I seek to place the exhibitionary practices of contemporary popular music museums in a broader and longer trajectory of similar practices in order to get a more grounded sense of the more important characteristics of these kinds of museums.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v15i1.664



Copyright (c) 2017 Charles Fairchild

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360