Representing popular music histories and heritage in museums

Authored by: Marion Leonard

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138237636
eBook ISBN: 9781315299310
Adobe ISBN:


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Museums have become significant agents in relaying popular music histories and offering presentations of popular music heritage for the visiting public (those attending the physical site and/or browsing material online). The activities of these institutions act not only to preserve, conserve and promote popular music heritage but also to define popular music as heritage and to champion and shape the historic and cultural value given to musical genres, practices, scenes, spaces and locations. This chapter reviews the range and nature of museum engagements with popular music from the development of specialist music museums to exhibitions in social history museums and science centres. Drawing on a range of international examples, the chapter discusses the collections, exhibitions and interpretative approaches taken by these institutions. It also examines some of the curatorial challenges which popular music presents to museums, from the politics of collection to how to effectively ‘deliver’ sound within a gallery space.

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