A study into the commercialisation of museums and heritage sites and the effect this has on the public perception of the past
The scale and scope of commercial activity at museums/ heritage sites is expanding rapidly, spurred principally by government policy in an increasingly consumer driven society. Museums/heritage sites are frequently encouraged to self-generate income through commercial activities, with the result that fiscal imperatives now pervade operational aspects at all levels of museums/heritage organisations.
My specific interest is to understand how commercialisation influences both presentation (exhibitions) and commemoration (gift shops) at museums/heritage sites, and how this commercial framing affects the public perception of the past.
The aim of my research is to examine the links between culture and commerce, and identify instances in which commercialisation enhances or detracts from visitor experience – commodities may allow visitors alternate ways of accessing the past, but conversely, a poor selection of merchandise in the gift shop may encourage a simpler, less nuanced remembrance of the cultural site.
My study engages with areas of cultural theory, museology, material culture studies, archaeology, anthropology, history, and marketing and branding. I am also doing fieldwork throughout the U.K to assess more directly visitor perceptions at different sites.
BA – Literature and History, University of East Anglia (UEA), 2007
MA – Cultural Heritage Studies, University College London (UCL), 2009