Constructing National Identity: A National Museum Visitor’s Perspective

By Pille Runnel, Krista Lepik and Linda Lotina.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 22, 2014 $US5.00

This article studies the national identity processes of visitors within the framework of the inclusive museum. The topic of the museum as a constructor of national identity is well-known, but there is less research on how museum visitors construct national identity and what the role of the museum is in this process. Through the case study of national museum visitors in Estonia and Latvia, this article asks how museum visitors understand national identities and how they ‘work’ with them. Do museums reflect people’s priorities and do visitors trust them? Although the study shows that visitor perceptions of national identity largely agreed with what they experienced in the museums, we could still ask to what extent national museums and their visitors are in dialogue about national identities, or if this is an opportunity that has been missed. Personal identity-building through vivid comparisons between personally familiar everyday life in the past and present produced a lot of interest among the visitors. These proved to be familiar and important topics, which thus would enable visitors to feel comfortable when discussing identities in the museum context. This sense of familiarity and comfort can potentially be used by museums to improve connection with visitors.

Keywords: Museum Visitors, National Identity, National Museums

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.67-77. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 410.588KB)).

Dr Pille Runnel

Research Director, Estonian National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

Krista Lepik

Lecturer, Institute of Journalism and Communication, Faculty of Social Sciences and Education, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Linda Lotina

Lecturer, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences ; University of Tartu, Latvia


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