The Just Present Past: A Survey of the Heritage House and Future Applications of the Model

By Noa Bronstein.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

Historic house museums are perhaps a needed response to what Orhan Pamuk describes in his manifesto “state museums are so antiquated,” in which he calls for the abandonment of monumental, symbolic museums in favour of individualistic institutions. The ever-present historic house museum, while occupying a unique space within our cultural landscape vis-à-vis a focus on the individual and preceding modes of livelihood, is also challenged for mandating the narrativization and theatricalization of history. This paper examines the unique problematics of these spaces, while exploring how contemporary art installations can rebut convention and re-imagine the typology of the house museum. Focusing on three examples from sites in the United States, Australia and Canada, these contemporary interventions into historic and domestic spaces can potentially revise the mandate to account for alternative readings of the museum as text, while inviting a more meaningful visitor experience.

Keywords: House museum, heritage, historic house, art intervention, authenticity

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.79-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 499.081KB)).

Noa Bronstein

Head of Exhibitions and Publications, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Noa Bronstein is a Toronto-based researcher and curator whose research interests include hybridity and pluralism within cultural institutions and alternative approaches to traditional archetypes. She has held positions at the Bata Shoe Museum and was the Acting Curator and Director of Public Programs at the Design Exchange, Canada’s national design museum, and the Director of Exhibitions & Cultural Promotions at the Gladstone Hotel. She has curated several noteworthy exhibitions including, Come Up To My Room, Out of Sorts: Print Culture & Book Design and Play > Nation: Canada’s Outdoor Culture. Currently, Noa is the Head of Exhibitions and Publications at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography.

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