Democratising Collections through Audience Participation: Opportunities and Obstacles

By Taavi Tatsi and Agnes Aljas.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

Based on auto-ethnography and production ethnography of research interventions, this article looks at how participatory democratisation affects museum collections, which are the opportunities and bottlenecks that objects and meanings from participatory processes encounter when being legitimised (or not) for the museum collections. The case studies come from Estonian National Museum—an ethnographic museum experiencing an intensive period of changes triggered by the ongoing process of constructing a new building for the museum. Building upon theories of (media) participation and democracy that distinguish minimalist and maximalist participation, this article takes it to the context of museum collections by elaborating ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ mode through which participatory processes influence collections and their accessioning today.

Keywords: Audience Participation, Museum Collections, Inclusion, Research Intervention, Museum Expertise, Democratised Heritage

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 786.952KB).

Taavi Tatsi

Research Associate/PhD student, Research Department, Institute of Journalism and Communication, Estonian National Museum/Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia

Taavi Tatsi is a research associate at the Estonian National Museum and a PhD candidate at the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the University of Tartu. He has been working at the Estonian National Museum since 2006. His PhD work focuses on the transformations of museum-embedded cultural expertise, namely how audience participation affects museum curatorship and collections. The PhD study is part of a joint research project of the two institutions he is affiliated with, entitled Developing Museum Communication in the 21st Century Information Environment.

Agnes Aljas

PhD Student/Research Secretary, Institute of Journalism and Communication, Research Department, University of Tartu/Estonian National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

Agnes Aljas is a research secretary of Estonian National Museum and PhD student of the Institute of Journalism and Communication in the University of Tartu. MA from the University of Turku, where she studied ethnology and BA in ethnology from University of Tartu. Her PhD focuses on the changes of the concept of culture. Currently, she is participating as a researcher in following research projects: Changing cultural dispositions of Estonians through the four decades: from the 1970s to the present time‚ Developing Museum Communication in the 21st century Information Environment and Actual Complexity of Cultural Communication and Methodological Challenges of Cultural Research. She has published several articles about Estonian National Museum.

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