Paths, Strategies and Struggles: Museums in the Contemporary Cultural Economy of Hybrid Markets.

Project: ResearchNational collaboration

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Ethnology


  • Commodification, Cultural Heritage, Nordic Heritage, USA, Sweden


This project is financed by Erik Philip-Sörenssons stiftelse, and run together with Docent Lizette Gradén.
Working with ethnographic methods, the objective of this project is to analyze the concrete manner in which museum’s ability to utilize and exhibit their collections are affected by the varying cultural economic preconditions and business models under which they work. Central questions are:
• How are cultural economic pressures met and perceived by museums? How do the conditions of the “hybrid markets” that museums operate in enable (or inhibit) them from engaging in collaborative efforts with other institutions of collective memory to produce new exhibitions featuring elements of their collections that have not been publicly utilized as coherent assemblages in the past?
• How do the demands to quantitatively account (to actors such as the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis/Myndigheten för kulturanalys) for a museum’s output and production affect its way of measuring its activities as well as its manner of viewing and understanding itself and its activities? When numbers “count”, and demands to attract large publics are ever increasing, whose heritage counts most, and how do the pressures to quantitatively account for production affect the choices museums make to produce and assemble exhibitions.
The project invokes a comparative perspective that examines the strategies of two museums under rapid expansion in North America, the Nordic Heritage Museum (NHM) in Seattle, and American Swedish Institute (ASI) in Minneapolis, (both exhibiting Swedish Cultural Heritage in the North American context) and the ways in which they work to meet the demands of the highly privatized American market. Of interest here are questions concerning issues such as: how secondary service offerings (such as restaurants, cafés, and gift shops) are mobilized to bolster those institutions’ economic base (potentially bolstering visitor statistics), and attract new publics; the role and impact of engaged volunteer staff (a strategy of participation viewed controversially in Sweden); and what are the cultural and economic costs and benefits of volunteer involvement?
StatusNot started

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University (lead)
  • Myndigheten för Livrustkammaren, Skokloster Slott och Hallwyl Museum