Managing ‘Permanent Residents’: The Museum as Custodian of Inspirited Heritage

By Leanne Dempsey.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

At a time when modern museums seek to be more inclusive members of sustainable communities, many are only uneasily aware of their own ‘permanent residents’ and uncertain of how best to manage them. This paper investigates inspirited cultural sites and collections in Australia, and looks at the challenge of managing this endangered heritage in an inclusive way. The paper focuses on an inspirited site in Canberra, the National Museum of Australia. The National Museum’s spirits bring with them a wealth of intangible heritage that has the potential to contribute significantly to visitors’ understanding of Australia’s social history. However, acknowledging and interpreting this heritage might raise issues associated with differences in belief systems, cultural sensitivities and the prevalence of a modern homogenous popular culture of ghost hunting and ghost tours.

Keywords: Inspirited, Inclusive Museum, Intangible Heritage, Management and Interpretation

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.59-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.156MB).

Leanne Dempsey

Visitor Services Host, Visitor Services and Volunteers, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Leanne Dempsey is a PhD student in Museum Studies with the University of Queensland. Her research interests lie in intangible heritage and ecomuseology; specifically the contribution of intangible heritage towards sustainable communities. Leanne’s current research focuses on the cultural significance of ‘inspirited’ places. Leanne has a Batchelor of Cultural Heritage Management (UQ), and a Master of Sustainable Heritage Development (ANU). Currently she works at the National Museum of Australia.


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