Popular Music History, Vol 10, No 2 (2015)

Negotiating the values of popular music in the museum: Curatorial process and exhibition narratives in the ABBAWORLD exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Gaëlle Crenn
Issued Date: 7 Apr 2017

Abstract


Museums are agents of cultural valuation where objects are selected, interpreted, exhibited, and turned into heritage. How does popular culture affect the cultural logic of the museum and how does the museum approach these new cultural contents? The text focuses on the case of the ABBAWORLD exhibition presented at the Powerhouse Museum, in Sydney, Australia. Based on interviews with the curatorial team and a comprehensive audience survey, the study aims to understand how the music of ABBA is defined as heritage through the design and the experience of the display. It compares the exhibition previously staged by Swedish producers in Melbourne (2010) and its re-curation at the Powerhouse Museum—focusing on the representation of popular music, the narratives of the exhibition, and the choice of devices to experience popular music in the museum. It discusses the (re)valuation of popular music as heritage and the role of the museum as heritage’s ‘respondent’. The case study illustrates the growing importance of the mediatization of popular culture for museums and cultural industries.

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DOI: 10.1558/pomh.33211

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