Popping the museum: the cases of Sheffield and Preston

Tara Brabazon, Stephen Mallinder


This article excavates the ‘problem’ of popular culture in museums, with particular attention to Sheffield’s National Centre for Popular Music and Preston’s National Football Museum. In both cases, profound issues are raised for information and knowledge experts who must manage and negotiate the contradictions of the popular. These two case studies are contextualized through both urban regeneration policies and sports tourism strategies. Both institutions were situated in the North of England, and both faced extraordinary obstacles. What is interesting is that Sheffield’s Centre was termed – derisively – a Museum. It failed. Preston embraced the label of a National Museum, and after profound threats to the institution, has survived. Part of the explanation for these distinct trajectories is found in understanding the specific challenges that popular culture presents for the presentation of history, narrative, identity and space.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Tara Brabazon, Stephen Mallinder

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360