Heritagisation of pop culture by museums and an analysis of visitor feedback

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Arts and the Market, 2021, 11, (3), pp. 258-274
Issue Date:
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PurposeIn recent years, there has been a “heritagisation” of pop culture, including music, whereby cultural institutions, such as galleries and museums in primarily Western countries, have run exhibitions based on pop culture to successfully market to a new audience of visitors. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the issue of the “heritagisation” of pop culture by museums and observe visitor response to a specific music-related exhibition, linking intangible and tangible elements of the exhibition to provide a framework to understand the visitor experience.Design/methodology/approachThe purpose will be achieved by observing the “heritagisation” of pop culture in the literature and past exhibitions, proposing how cultural institutions have linked the intangible and tangible elements of music in pop culture for an exhibition and observe visitors' feedback from online comments posted on Tripadvisor undertaken during the original “David Bowie is” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London.FindingsFrom the Leximancer analysis, a new conceptual framework for visitor experience at an exhibition was developed, which contains three visitor-related categories: pre-exhibition, exhibition space and exhibition experience, with five themes (tickets, exhibition, displayed objects, David Bowie and visitors) and 41 text concepts.Practical implicationsFor cultural institutions the implications are that there can be opportunities to curate exhibitions on pop culture or music-related themes, which can include intangible and tangible elements, such as songs, videos, tickets, costumes, musical instruments and posters. These exhibitions can also explore the changing socio/political/historical/cultural background that contextualises pop cultural history.Originality/valueThis theory-building study advances the body of knowledge as it links music in pop culture and cultural institutions, specifically in this case a highly successful music-related exhibition at a museum, and provides a theoretical model based on tangibility elements. Further, it analyses museum visitor comments by using the qualitative software program, Leximancer, to develop a new conceptual framework for visitor experience.
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