The Ecomuseum Model in Postmodern Museum Studies: Cultural Navigation and Knowledge Creation Beyond Museum Walls

By Lesley Graybeal.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

In the field of postmodern museum studies, scholars increasingly challenge the notion of the traditional Western museum as a temple of knowledge in which the rhetoric surrounding artifacts was often used to shape perceptions of historical events and trends. The model of the ecomuseum (from the French “écomusée”) arose in Europe in the late twentieth century in industrial towns as a way for local communities to navigate their heritage and changing way of life in a post-industrial era. Grassroots institutions, these ecomuseums extended preservation and cultural knowledge beyond the building walls to encompass the wider context of the community’s political and economic spheres and fulfill a number of roles as an educational institution, a storehouse of historic preservation, and a seat of community activism that gave community members a voice in representing their history, bridging the past, present, and future, and educating community members as well as visitors about the wider context of a local history. This model has been applied to a limited extent outside of Europe, but has a wealth of potential in the United States and elsewhere as a grassroots approach to shaping culture and building an authentic understanding of heritage within indigenous and ethnic communities.

Keywords: Ecomuseum, Community Museum, Cultural Knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge, New Museology, Museum Education

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.179-188. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.175MB).

Lesley Graybeal

Doctoral Student, Social Foundations of Education, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Lesley Graybeal is a doctoral student in Social Foundations of Education in the College of Education at the University of Georgia. Her concentration is in international and comparative education and her research interests focus mainly on education in a postmodern setting and the use of museums as culturally-situated institutions of education, specifically how museums shape and represent culture and legitimate forms of knowledge to various groups of people. She currently works as an instructor of Critical and Contemporary Issues in Education at the University of Georgia and as assistant to the director of the UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership in higher education reform.


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