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Trading on the Past: an examination of the cultural and economic roles of shops at museums and heritage sites

Larkin, J; (2016) Trading on the Past: an examination of the cultural and economic roles of shops at museums and heritage sites. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This study explores the growth of commercialisation at museums and heritage sites, focusing specifically on the development of onsite retailing. It examines the shop as an economic entity and considers its cultural role as part of the wider visitor experience. The content and direction of the thesis have been shaped by the paucity of academic work in this area. There is little understanding of the historical trajectory of museum and heritage trading; a barely developed theorisation of the shop in cultural terms; little contemplation of the financial sustainability of the enterprise; and a lack of evidence concerning visitor opinions of retailing. Thus, rather than pursue a detailed contemporary analysis built on intellectual quicksand, the principal objective of this study is to supply a basic apparatus for the furtherance of critical inquiry in this area. Consequently, the thesis is split into two sections. Section 1 provides an historical account of trading at museums and heritage sites with the purpose of furnishing a cultural context for retailing that situates the shop in a lineage of outreach, supporting the underlying objectives of the institution. Section 2 addresses the lack of theorisation of retailing, and develops an intellectual context within which such analyses may take place. It argues that the shop should be seen as a legitimate representational and educational space, in addition to its economic function. These theorisations of contemporary museum and heritage trading are grounded using a series of case studies to demonstrate how experience of the shop plays out in practice among visitors. Ultimately, this study conceptualises retailing as an important cultural and economic activity at museums and heritage sites, and advocates for further academic attention for this area so such spaces can be better understood and properly utilized.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Trading on the Past: an examination of the cultural and economic roles of shops at museums and heritage sites
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: Museums, museum shops, commercialisation, commodification
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1522155
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