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Barriers and Promoters of Intangible Heritage Domains within Museums

Info: 10682 words (43 pages) Dissertation
Published: 11th Dec 2019

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    1. Introduction
    2. Case studies
  • Introduction to Case-Study
  • Intangible Heritage Domain and Community
  • Outreach Activities used to promote Intangible Heritage
  • Summary: Relationship between Intangible Heritage, Community and the Museum Sector
  1.       British Museum

Case 1: The Oolong Tea Ceremony

Case 2: The Sikh Fortress Turban

Case 3: The Lewis Chessmen      [L]

  1.       V & A Museum

Case 4: The Women’s Hourcraft Prize

Case 5: The Clothworker’s Centre

Case 6: Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms Exhibition   [L]

  1.       Pitt Rivers Museum

Case 7: Haida Collaboration     [L]

Case 8: Haida Box Project

  1.       Imperial War Museum

Case 9: Second World War: Meet an Evacuee

Case 10: Syria, A Conflict Explored

Case 11: Holocaust Exhibitions

  1.       National Museum of Scotland

Case 12: Panjab Connections     [L]

  1.       Horniman Museum

Case 13: Horniman Indian Mela

Case 14: SEND Partnership     [L]

  1. Summary



This section describes the cases examined, to understand the barriers and promoters of ICH within museums in the UK context. The background for each case evolved from literature review, followed by in-depth examination through the research methods outlined in the previous chapter. The cases are outlined in the following sequence. At the onset, an introduction of the Case-Study offers a descriptive perspective supported through literature review. Subsequently, the identified ‘IH’ Domain is explained. Then, the community associated with it, and their relation to the collections is outlined. Outreach Activities[OA] used to promote this IH is discussed through primary and secondary data collection. All the above summarize the relationship between Intangible Heritage, Community, and the Museum Sector.


F Information / Existing Literature

OA Outreach Activities/Program

DC[L] Data collected, supported by literature reference

DA  Data Analysis

O  Observations

AfF Area for further study

    1.       British Museum

This section focusses on IH activities at the British Museum (2017b). The British Museum is a unique resource that tells the story of cultural achievements throughout the world. The collections are open to all public, free of charge, to re-examine cultural identities and to explore the complexity of interconnected world cultures. The collections are frequently loaned for display in museums across the world (Museum, 2017a).


At the British Museum, I would like to discuss the Intangible Heritage Domains (IHD) such as practices, knowledge, objects and its associations, and the cultural heritage associated with the object’s community(UNESCO, 2003)in the following cases.


Figure 1: Snapshot of the Demonstration Process from the Video ‘The Tea House at the British Museum’

The Chinese Oolong Tea Ceremony (2016a) held in February 2016 was a demonstration of the Chinese Tea ceremony. The participants were from diverse backgrounds. The demonstrator illustrated the process of tea making and outlined the evolution of the tea ceremony. She sketched the embodied meanings of the process by using specific (teacups of different sizes) elements needed for the process. The specifics involved in tea making also helped the participants understand the medicinal benefits of tea and the challenges of having tea on an empty stomach (Tea House, 2016) thus providing a holistic experience.

No such characteristics are outlined in the textual representation next to the display of tea objects in the museum collection. Museum labels, be introduction labels, section or object labels only represent the factual criteria relevant to the object. However, by participating in this workshop, an in-depth perception of the object and its use could be understood. The process did not use specific teacups from the Museum’s collections. The reasons for using it in a way highlights the contextual use of tea. This workshop was open to a diverse audience as it was a free drop-in session, which encouraged museum visitors to participate and explore the process. (Tea House, 2016).

CASE 2:  THE SIKH FORTRESS TURBAN (17 February – 17 April 2011)

Sikh Akali-Nihang turban

Figure 2: Sikh Akali-Nihang turban (dastaar boonga), blue cloth (21st century) with steel blades and quoits, Punjab, India, 19th century.(BritishMuseum, 2011a)

The Museum also involved in engaging with specific communities. The Sikh Fortress Turban was a late 19th Century object from Punjab, India. The Museum wished to exhibit a century old turban. They wanted to explore new ways of displaying a single object. They involved in a partnership with members of the Sikh community and wished to portray contemporary thoughts on turbans and its significance of its past and present(2005). The Museum worked with two Sikh organisations, the UK Punjab Heritage Association and the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail to curate the exhibition. Through community engagement, they brought young Sikhs across UK together to explore the ‘dastar boonga’(2016b). Paramdip Khera(2016b), the Curator, described a story about how the object became a part of the museum’s collection. She expressed that the British were impressed with Sikh fighting skills, and thus turban was donated to the museum in 1896. She revealed that the need to replace the fabric of the turban was the instigator for museum-community collaboration in this case. Philippe Charbonnier, (storyteller and writer) informed the participants of the poor condition of the turban in storage. Harwinder Singh, a member of the Sikh Education Council briefed them on the history and purpose of the turban. The details were described to the participants. They made word associations and were able to pick out the key features of the turban. The group created a narrative with Philippe’s help for the object. This was followed by a discussion on whether the British Museum should store, maintain and safeguard the object and if the object was more important than the story. The former produced diverse views. Some participants belonging to the community preferred that the British Museum should display it. They felt that the people in Punjab were aware of their heritage and its presence in the British Museum, visited by millions of visitors every year, would provide a global platform for transmitting their heritage and identity. About the latter, some felt that, the story brings meaning to the object without which it can become unimportant. Participants strongly believed that they were able to connect to the object at a personal level, and that it emphasised the significance of the object for the community as a whole and their individual self. It also reflected the identity of Punjab to the Museum visitors by using the story to connect to the object (Museum, 2016b).

Young people exploring British Museum objects

Figure 3: Young people and Museum staff discussing the Sikh Fortress Turban(BritishMuseum, 2011b)


‘Talking Objects’, an object-based engagement programme delivered accredited learning programmes to young people aged 16-24.  The Talking Objects Collective were based around the Lewis Chessmen collection. Talking Objects National is a national initiative with partner museums across UK to collaborate with youth groups, community organisations, practitioners and schools to investigate museum objects using dance, drama, music and visual arts to explore the significance and relevance of the objects in the present. The museum has also collaborated with the Mary Ward Centre to support local people to access adult learning opportunities. They are focused on developing a range of practical skills, such as: printmaking, silk painting to mixed media arts. They have been frequently exhibited at Museums and local community events (BritishMuseum, 2010).

The Lewis Chessmen

Figure 4: The Lewis Chessmen(1831-1832)

Lorna[2] (BritishMuseum, 2014a) in an interview, described about the lack of knowledge on the ownership of the medieval chess set(1831-1832). She described that each piece of the set were crafted and carved by individual craftsmen. She also stressed on the different stories associated with the objects(Cruickshanks, 2012-2014). Through this example, I outline the link between the object and its embodied meaning and the relevance of the object to its wider community. Although the object was surrounded by ‘a contested heritage debate’, it represented a symbol/ identity to both, the British and the Scottish community.

This is evident from her description of the Lewis Chessmen “as incredibly rare pieces of early medieval carving and the oldest piece of complete chess sets […] with less knowledge on its ownership… The presence of 11 pieces in Edinburgh and 82 in London constitute to its contested heritage. Some people identify it as Scottish Heritage, with some believing it to be British… which represents a status symbol” (Cruickshanks, , 2014a)


The British Museum has several collaborations with the community, both local and national. Some of their initiatives involve collaborations with young people, with the aged and schools to explore stories behind objects and their relevance to the Museum and its community. The Museum has collaborated with young people to support their education and training. They have brought life to the object through drama, in collaboration with Only Connect, dance, when London Academy dancers took inspiration for their choreography, visual arts, film-making with unemployed youth group, and art and design education, when Sixth Form Art Students, Fashion Foundation Students, Jewellery Design and Manufacture students used this object as inspiration for producing their portfolios(BritishMuseum, 2014b). The Community Partnerships Team used Drama & Performance, Dance & Movement, Art & Design, and Storytelling as themes to illustrate the creative potential to interpret objects within the Museum’s collections and to engage with diverse audiences in new ways. They hoped that the suggested activities would be adaptable for use in any gallery or museums with a variety of ages and abilities (Kiser & Cruickshanks,, 2012-2014).

Object handling sessions “Hands-on desks” is a free activity used by the Community Partnerships Team to support people’s engagement with cultural objects and their stories(2017c). These sessions are open to all and are suited for all ages and groups of audiences. The team comprises of professionals and volunteers to handle objects from the Museum’s collections and visitor (henceforth, participants). The objects on display narrate the stories of collectors, antiquaries and the object itself. The volunteers introduce the objects by providing an introduction of the collection and display its achievements over time. They also describe the diverse conditions within which it was produced and used. They also describe the religions, architecture, or administrations, which created a distinct identity for the object and its specificity to the Museum’s collection. Each participant is asked to choose an object. This is followed by an introduction of self, and the reason they chose that object. They are asked to organise them for display in their preferred sense and explain their choices of display. They are also asked to make word associations or narrate stories with the object. This process helps them to gain confidence and be creative with objects they may not know much about. When the object is passed around, each person is asked to describe their relation with the object (may be the curator, the archaeologist, tourist or the craftsman)(Pearce, 1994, 2017). This approach encourages a more dynamic discussion of the history, its past, present and sometimes future. The session ends with the participants specifying their opinions on whether the object does / does not mean anything to them. If they are unsure, then their opinions are considered neutral. This helps the participant in their identity formation(2017c).


“The museums provide us with opportunities to see the creative processes in reverse as they provide us with the finished object and motivate the visitor to understand fully how the object was made and its use”(BritishMuseum, 2014b).

Through art and design, they have connected the craft and the craftsmanship. They have initiated the transformation of the space within a museum from a place of display to a place where the process of object manufacture can be understood. It helps the user understand the material, the style and the techniques involved in its production. They offer a dynamic inspiration for their own design work. Art appreciation is encouraged at a deeper level to make sense of what is being displayed. Through dance and movement(BritishMuseum, 2010-14a), they have nurtured self-awareness and have empowered them with communication skills and increased confidence. They have helped to explore the embodied expression within an object and helped in shaping their own self through enquiry, reflection and interpretation. They help in exploring behaviours and sense of ownership. The Museum has explored theatre techniques to tell and share stories of objects and brought them to life through drama and performance processes(BritishMuseum, 2014b, 2010-14b).

Figure 5: Drama & Performance, British Museum

Figure 6: Art & Design, British Museum

Figure 7: Dance & Performance, British Museum

Francis (2011-2016), the Interpretation Officer within the museum’s heritage sector, recounted how the storytelling sessions(BritishMuseum, 2010-14c) helped him reflect upon his practice. He said, “the text in museums were focussed on delivering facts, because of which, the rich folklore surrounding the objects tend to be ignored”. He identified that associating objects with its beliefs or myths can generate interests in the minds of the young. Thus, by combining interpretation and oral storytelling, it is possible to attract a wider audience to the object.

Although the storyline did not depend completely upon factual information, it explored the spirit of the objects and helped participants share their own cultures, traditions and life-stories within a wider context. This opened an accessible approach to new intimidating spaces inviting the normally disengaged youth to develop relationships by improving confidence and sense of ownership(BritishMuseum, 2014b).

  1.       Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)

In the V&A Museum (2017b, 2017a), I consider The Women’s Hourcraft Prize, The Clothworker’s Centre and Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms Exhibition as examples. The Women’s Hour Craft Prize is organised by the museum to appreciate and recognise individual craft practitioners. The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion is an educational resource centre. In the case of the Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms exhibition, I review the issue of ‘the lasting presence of community’ discussed by Swallow and Nightingale (2003).Each of these cases relate to traditional processes, learning and education centre, and community identity, which are the focus of the ICH domains underlined in the Convention (UNESCO, 2003).


Here, I review the issues of skills of individuals, the knowledge within the museum’s collections and the relationship the museum hoped to build with specific communities because of its relevance to understanding the link between Museums, Community and ICH, which forms the core criteria of my study.


Through this initiative, the museum recognizes the originality of a craft practitioner. This prize opened the opportunity for the museum to identify specialists working with natural materials and their appreciation of traditional techniques (UNESCO, 2003). This approach was needed to identify crafts that were disappearing and to introduce its revival through re-creation, which may have helped in its sustenance (Kirshenblatt‐Gimblett, 2004). Here, 12 finalists, working with traditional skills were identified. However, it is important to note that not all of them adopted traditional ways of using the materials. They used the traditional knowledge and techniques associated with the materials to inform contemporary uses. The outcomes were tangible material objects, displayed at the V&AMuseum (2017b). All these craftspeople used these objects and its stories to connect with people around them. By using the physical objects, they triggered meanings, memories and emotions. Thus, they transformed the craft to create a sense of identity. This process empowered the craft practitioner and helped in building a sense of shared heritage among a wider audience (V&AMuseum, 2017a).


This state-of-the-art facility allows visitors to inspect and explore collections of textiles and fashion from across the globe (V&AMuseum). They include archaeological fragments to heavy tapestry and carpets, accessories and underwear to embroidered 18th century court dresses and contemporary haute couture. Although entrance is free, access is limited as prior booking is necessary to view the collections. This process requires the awareness to book earlier, and to also provide an explanation as to why the visitor wishes to view the collections. In addition, to gain access, personal identification needs to be provided. Photography or recording of images require prior permission from a separate department (V&AMuseum, 2017b, 2017a).

Specific methods of preservation is undertaken by the museum to protect the collections, as they are delicate and fragile. However, access to the collection by a wide audience is restricted. The tension a museum faces between maintenance of the collection and provision for wider access is the issue reviewed through this example. Promoting the museum, as ‘an institution of open access’ (ICOM, 2002, Hooper-Greenhill, 2000), has been dominant in literature. However, this example contradicts literature (Mayo, 1999). My point of contact was Ruth Dewa-ayu, the Community Engagement Officer. When discussing about the restrictions imposed to view the collections, she implied that at the Management level there was an idea of the collections being free to all. However, from my personal observation and experience, visitors or passers-by who come to the museum to views the collections are unaware of the complications involved in viewing the collections. This lack of awareness needs to be addressed by the Museum.


Literature sources (Swallow & Nightingale, 2003) reviewed highlighted the efforts undertaken by the museum-sector to build lasting relationships with a specific community. In this case, I review this ‘lasting presence of communities’ within the museum sector to understand the link between museum, its community and the decision-making associated with the ICH domain.

The museum held an exhibition entitled ‘Sikh culture,’ to help in the construction of cultural identity (Aikawa, 2007: 23) to the Sikh community. A religious theme was avoided in the display of the exhibition as an acknowledgement of Sikhism’s rejection of religious iconography. Nightingale and Swallow (2003) reviewed the success of this initiative. The museum used the expertise of the Sikhs for developing relevant exhibitions. Nightingale and Swallow (2003) publicised that the partnership was a successful venture. They also mentioned that the museum maintained a growing contact with the Sikh community since before the exhibition’s conception and afterwards. They stated that by involving the Sikh community in interpretation and redisplay, they claimed to have bestowed cultural authority to the community. They specified that the collaboration resulted in promoting a cultural identity for the Sikh community and that the community benefited from its involvement with the museum through learning and education outcomes.

However, the data gained from my personal observations through a visit to the museum, refutes these claims. The collections were not on display. The community officer (Ruth) I interviewed had inadequate knowledge about the presence of the Sikh community because she mentioned that her involvement with the ‘Community Outreach Program’ was limited to 9 months. Further follow-up interviews with regards to the Arts of the Sikh Exhibitions, helped in identifying some barriers in the museum’s approach to safeguarding ICH. Ruth explained that the ‘absence of the collections from display’ may have been because of the following reasons. She specified that primarily collections and exhibitions were of permanent and temporary nature. After which, they are shifted to specific storage archives (Blake, 2015). Also, secondly, that the displays were alternated with different themes over certain periods. And that this exhibition may have been a one-off event. This specifies, that the success review by Swallow and Nightingale (2003) reflected the context during which the event occurred. However, through my observations and interviews, I contradict the ‘lasting presence of communities’ outlined by the Swallow and Nightingale, as there was no presence of the community.


In the above cases, the museums used various programmes of OA. In the Women’s Hour Craft Prize, outreach activity involved the finalists conducting workshops hands-on workshops. These workshops were open to all members of the society. The Clothworker’s Centre, was an educational initiative established through partnerships with learning institutions. Which aimed to improve capacity building among specific members of the community. Design practitioners benefitted through empowerment and skill development. It empowered them further by providing them with knowledge relevant to their area of study. In the case of the Sikh exhibitions, Swallow and Nightingale (2003) outlined the shift of cultural authority from the institutions to the community groups.


This shift emphasises the shift of authority from a top-down approach to a bottom-up initiative. This has helped in developing a participatory approach as favoured by UNESCO (2001b), with the support of the cultural institution (museum). The museum has also played an important role in shaping a group or an individual’s identity and paved the way for successful collaborations with living heritages (craft-practitioners) and communities (Sikhs) as reflected by Yim (2004)andSaito (2005).

  1.       Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM)

Here, I review the link between museums’ (the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM), and British Museum) and communities across geographical contexts. Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of British Columbia, Canada. The PRM(2014, 2009-2014) and the British Museum contains collections relevant to the Haida community (Krmpotich and Peers, 2013). I would like to discuss the Haida collaboration and the Haida Box project, which is a partnership between PRM and the Haida Gwaii Museum.



Twenty-one members from the Haida nation visited the PRM and British Museum. The visiting community gained access to all Haida collections. Most of the Haida community visited the Museums to study their own historical culture. For example, totem poles are artefacts housed in both the museums(Museum, 2009-2014). They serve as an archive, as documentary evidences of cross-cultural relationships. For example, the totem-pole(Museum, 1901) is only protected as a tangible element within the museum, whereas in the community it has a specific purpose. Thus, several literature sources emphasise this suppression of the interpersonal relationships associated with the objects when they are displayed in museums (Krmpotich and Peers, 2013).

Totem Pole

Figure 8:The totem pole on display in the Museum; 1901.39.1(Museum, 1901)

They visited the museum to learn from its collections and teach museum staff about the collections. This visit was a response to build long-lasting relationships between not only institutions, but also between the community and the museums (Krmpotich and Peers, 2013). For the community, the objects in the collections represented their collective identity and for the museums, they represented the creation of positive long-term relationships with the original community. The engagement with the Haida represented engagement across a cross-section. They included individuals with specialist knowledge, experiential knowledge; people who wished to learn their culture and revive traditions, and staff with varied experiences facilitating indigenous-community engagement. This participation describes the museum’s approach to involve with the grass roots and include them in interpretation and cross-cultural learning processes. This approach further reflects the museums policies on ‘access to collections’(Krmpotich and Peers, 2013, Krmpotich, 2014). This created an opportunity for them to gain knowledge from carvings, musical instruments and basket weaving techniques. They shared a dance performance featuring their collections with new audiences at the museum. The process in which the museums initiated and financed a visit denotes the institutional willingness to shift their operational structure from a top-down approach to a bottom-up initiative. The project encouraged an informed understanding of the Haida. It also encouraged mutual respect through participation. Although such partnerships were influenced by time, political and financial decisions, the project was described as a successful venture, as the traditional barriers were managed on both ends. For the community, the presence of Haida art in museums reaffirmed their collective identity and was crucial for the continuity of knowledge about their traditions (Krmpotich and Peers, 2013).


The project was initiated by a bid supporting to carve a full sized totem pole for Parks Canada. The project signifies the craftsmanship of the box. Artists Jaalen Edenshaw and Gwaai Edenshaw worked with the historic box and replicated it exactly. This included the process of using cultural knowledge from the old and applying it to the process of crafting the new box. Technology helped in recreating an exact replica (2014, extracted from the video).


Masset workshops were conducted to explore and understand the significance of the lines, drawings and carvings. Marnie York (Educator) described it as, “the object gave the community a sense of pride when they actually see and feel it. It benefits the community. Having direct access may hope to inspire and challenge artists from the community”. Stephanie Markham, Haida artist and student said that every day she learned something new, about the designs, the symbols(Museum, 2014, Krmpotich and Peers, 2013).

  • PARTNERSHIPS WITH SCHOOL: George M Dawson High School

Participants included students and youth exchange members (PittRiversMuseum, 2014, Krmpotich and Peers, 2013). They learnt about symmetry, line and form drawings by participating in a workshop to draw elements of the box. Art was an important tool of the Haida community. The artistic masterpieces exist in museum collections around the world. The community cannot access the collections for developing their art skills. They lack in artistic development because access to museums can be expensive or not available to all members of the community. These are barriers to the communities. This also represents an opportunity for the members to develop their skills. However, the challenge lies in transmitting the knowledge across cultural borders to source communities. Thus museum collections have been recognized for their relevance, as symbols of heritage and identity and embodied cultural knowledge. By working with source communities and opening access to their collections, the museums have developed new initiative to make museum audiences inclusive (DCMS 2005). By involving source communities, to create permanent and temporary exhibits, by consulting with them in an advisory role thereby creating new narratives about the collections, the relevance of collections and its importance in ensuring continuity and strengthening identity museums have encouraged participation in a positive manner. These collaborations have changed local and national relations.


The participants underwent similar learning experiences and training experiences. Bent box designs are good because have a certain kind of anatomy, which explored elements of Haida art. This was a formal practice with rules for artistic expressions studied by participants as each piece had its distinctive artistry. This encouraged exploring artistic expressions of another community. Shared learning experiences also promoted mutual respect for the works of another community. It also provided members of Haida access to their original heritage (PittRiversMuseum, 2014, Museum, 2009-2014, Krmpotich and Peers, 2013).

  1.       Imperial War Museum (IWM)

Imperial War museum (IWM, 1917-2017)was used to examine the intangible domain of oral history and its relation to the museum’s collections. It emphasizes identity and continuity of the living heritage associated with objects in the collections(IWM, 1917).


Oral history(IWM, 2017a)is a method used to gather, preserve and interpret memories of people having personal knowledge and experience of past events. This museum was chosen, as it is relevant to explore the link between material and the non-material aspects. The War museum recollects stories of people’s experiences in times of conflict, both in the past and the present.



Access to collections are open to all, however, some exhibits such as the Holocaust are restricted to children under the age of 14. The permanent exhibitions, namely Witnesses to War, the First World War Galleries, the Holocaust Exhibition and A Family in Wartime trace the stories of groups and individuals and their responses during times of crisis and conflict.


The museum has partnered with ANAGRAM(2017), a creative collective, to explore using interactive experiences, engaging people in a meaningful way. They wished to create an experience that might help people reflect or respond to the conflict. This helps in understanding the relevance of the exhibition and its collections of the museum. The exhibition, Syria: a Conflict Explored has used documentary evidences such as photographs, personal stories and films along with physical objects to explore the causes and effects of the conflict in Syria (IWM, 1917-2017). The museum also hosts object handling sessions, suitable for all age groups, to connect and share their experiences about the original objects. They also host exhibitions and display, learning sessions, talks and screenings, private and guided tours, and online resources to promote their collections(IWM, 2017c).


I had participated in the Holocaust Tour and had the opportunity to meet a Second World War eyewitness, Mr Graham Zeitlin(IWM, 2017b). He spoke to us (the participants) about his memories of evacuation and life during war. Although the objects on display were supported with documentary evidences such as photographs and films to support the collections, his personal recollection offered a greater insight into the life of an evacuee. The objects on display only reflect the time, date or day of the incident/ attack. It may also describe the person who carried out the attack and the victimised group, maybe also the impacts of the attack. However, a personal story adds a dynamic character to the objects on display.


Similarly, the Holocaust exhibit (IWM, 2015-17) itself was displayed very differently from the others, such as the Syria exhibition(IWM, 1917-2017). The entire space, which displayed the collections, was based on the journey of victims during Hitler’s reign. There were objects with films at each point depicting the process or ideology behind the process. A timeline wall depicted the way in which Hitler gained power. Parallely, the walls described stories of Jews before and after the War. Life-size actual models depicted underground bunkers and the way people hid inside them. As a participant, I was able to see how it was an interactive model for both children and adults to experience the event through the object displayed. The presence of models depicting the entire persecution process, from the time of the Jews being made to evacuate homes, to travelling in trains unsure of their destination, which eventually was a death trap unveiled as a journey. One observation that I wish to mention was that, in other exhibits the audience participated or exited the displays as per their wish. In this exhibition, I was unable to find anyone leaving as the display provoked a sense of curiosity among the audience as to what happened next and made them continue their journey. This indicates how museums can engage with the audience using interactive displays to understand an exhibition completely. These are ways in which museums use intangible means to demonstrate the relevance and capacities of an object.


In today’s world of conflict(IWM, 2016-17), such an experience in museums would maybe help resolve conflicts in a peaceful way. This is a useful tool to increase awareness about the conflicts and its impacts. They may help future generations in developing an understanding of the impacts and issues of conflicts and acquire information in resolving them in better ways. Reflecting upon the past may help in looking ahead with a positive outlook. They make the present more meaningful. During the past decades, war has threatened cultural heritage. However, in museums, by learning from the collections (tangible heritage) and its intangible associations, one can safeguard and promote a nation / community’s identity. The war museum had incorporated indirectly in its exhibition the message of peace that one could take back after visiting the museum. This may have helped in capacity building and awareness of knowledge about war and its consequences. Personal narratives may influence the audience’s perceptions of war. This approach was a dynamic method of engaging with the audience and help in modifying their interpretations(IWM, 1917).

  1.       National Museum of Scotland (NMS)


  1. Introduction:

This section discusses in particular the Panjab Connections (Bennison, 2016)project, which received a grant of £16400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This was a collaboration between Scotland and Punjab. This project revolves around the story of the first Sikh resident of Scotland and the last king of Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh. It reflects the importance of the relation to one’s past and identity. It also discusses the concept of shared heritage and the notion of cultural diversity associated with the community(Bennison, 2017).

  1. ICH and the Community:

The traditions and expressions of the Sikh community are discussed in this project. In the Sikh culture, keeping their hair uncut symbolises a belief of living in harmony with God and represents holiness and strength. They cover their hair with turbans. However, the Maharajah was made to cut his hair upon his arrival in Scotland when he was placed under the guardianship of Scotsman Sir John Login. He was also made to convert to Christianity. The collections in the museum include highly decorative jewellery and personal belongings of the Maharajah. A recent artwork commissioned by the Singh Twins explore the concepts of belief, faith, identity and ownership of the Sikh community.  The museum collaborated with the Sikh community in Glasgow. They supported research and encouraged the use of objects from the museum’s collections to establish the link between the community, the museum and its collections. It also inspired the formation of Glasgow’s Young Sikh Leaders Network, who were aged 11-25. They undertook voluntary work to support their local community(Bennison, 2016).

  1. Outreach Activities: Barriers and Promoters

One of the key activities used to promote the project was a craft-based jewellery workshop. Others include filmmaking and photography workshops. Objects worn by the Maharaja inspired the jewellery workshop. Three films on the life of the Maharaja, his separation from his mother and the experiences of Scottish Sikhs were created(Bennison, 2016).

  1. Summary:

By cutting his hair and converting to Christianity, he was forced to lose his identity and connect to Punjab. After several attempts he succeeded in converting to a Sikh. This demonstrates the ability within an individual through continued attempts to succeed in regaining his lost identity. Which re-emphasizes that only through continued transmission, any tradition survives(Denhez, 1997a, Bennison, 2016).

The Museum sector was able to re-assess the role of the Maharajah in British-Indian relations, thus explaining the relevance of the past to the present in their collections. The connection between Scotland and Panjab offered resources and opportunities for engaging British and Indo-Scottish Sikhs. Dr Gordon Rintoul(2002), Director of NMS stated that as the collections were national objects, and were accessible to the public, they offered support to the local community groups and youths involved with the project. The project focussed on capacity building among the young people including audio recording and visual art.

The volunteers learnt filmmaking and interview techniques and creative writing skills. Also, Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland explained that this initiative was an excellent example of how communities can get involved, take decisions, develop new skills and interests and connect with their communities. Participants from the Young Sikh Leaders Network emphasized the outcomes of such collaborations to be rewarding in a positive manner. This process provided a means to showcase the rich history and traditions associated with the Scottish Sikh Community(Bennison, 2016, Bennison, 2017).


  1. Introduction:

This section aims to explore education initiatives and the Indian SummerFestival, “the Horniman Mela”, hosted by the Horniman Museum and Gardens (HornimanMuseum, 2017a). This festival celebrated through performances and activities, the South Asian festivals and celebratory traditions.

  1. ICH and the Community:

Festivals are celebrated across the world as memory of events with feasts and dance performances.  Festivals reflect the recognition of identity and encourages expression of the self /community. They contribute to a vivid sense of cultural identity. Mela means ‘gathering’(Devi, 2002, del Barrio et al., 2012). The Horniman Mela culminated with dance performances; puppet and dance workshops, hands-on base programmes and a colour throw festival(HornimanMuseum, 2017a). Cultural heritage has broadened its scope to include cultural elements of an immaterial nature such as customs, folklore, traditions and performances. Embracing the intangible values under the cultural heritage umbrella has been reflected in various UNESCO conventions such as the Nara Document on Authenticity (1994)(UNESCO), in the Krakow Charter (2000) and also in the Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Heritage in Paris (2003). Ritual and festive events, performing arts, and social practices have been recognised as manifestations of IH since the Paris Convention. They have been nominated as the IH of Humanity. Hence, cultural festivals are recognised as characteristic examples of such immaterial cultural heritage(del Barrio et al., 2012).

The goal of the festival was to express the values, beliefs and traditions followed by the Indian communities. The programme focussed on the Indian community across UK. The festival was also free and open to people across diverse cultures. Festivals share a common trait, namely intense production and a cultural experience, resulting from a condensed programme, which is planned with a specific purpose in mind(McKercher et al., 2006).

  1. Outreach Activities: Barrier and Promoters:

The activities promoted by the Museum include storytelling, dance, film and music performances, as well as art and craft traditions(HornimanMuseum, 2017a, Croll-Knight, 2017). Shadow puppetry was a technique used to narrate stories from different parts of India throughout the month of August. Jum Faruq, storyteller and puppeteer, of Dotted Line Theatre celebrated the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

Museum Volunteers (Emily, Eve, Joe, Rose and Debbie) headed the storytelling sessions(Blog, 2017). They demonstrated through hand gestures the stories of a man who wanted a horse and could not afford it, the hat seller’s tale and the story of a king with dirty feet.  Most of these workshops were suited for younger children. The Bhangra, Bharatanatyam, Dandiya Rass and Kathak workshops were suitable for all audiences.  Art workshops took inspiration from the Bengal tiger in the Natural History Gallery to create henna hand patterns. Face painting also inspired children and adults to explore Indian creatures. By learning to drape the saree, participants were also able to explore new clothing attires (HornimanMuseum, 2017a, Croll-Knight, 2017).

  1. Summary:

The Museum has collaborated with schools to promote curriculum-linked learning sessions. Another education initiative involved the collaboration of Outreach workshops that provided the opportunity to create the story, develop a plot and decide on characters whereas Peoplescape transformed it into an interactive performance. The School Learning Officer, Maria Magill said that this education initiative was shortlisted as a ‘Museum & Heritage Award’, which emphasised the open access nature of the museum(Magill, 2017).

The SEND Sensory Sessions collaborated with Peoplescape Theatre Company to explore musical instruments. Using objects from the museum’s collections, this session was useful in understanding the music and its instrument.  Further, to engage pupils with the artefacts from Egypt, teachers encouraged museum professional to develop a SEND session to explore the process of mummification. This included a range of sensory-explorations such as exploring spices and tools like salt, frankincense, cedar oil and beeswax. They were also allowed to handle real ancient Egyptian objects such as the mummy mask. The museum staff are trained to communicate using Makaton and use softwares as communication tools(SEND, 2017).Free sessions for non-profit organisations have resulted in understanding the museum’s collections in a multi-sensory way. They provide opportunities for the community to engage and explore the collections. Participants have to know each other, and be able to share stories or experiences using a medium of their choice to communicate their understanding of the collections.

Similarly, the Redstart Arts, a platform for artists with learning disabilities explored the collections of the Museum and inspired object making. Led by Cash Aspeek, inspired by natural and ancient pieces of artwork, they produced a series of figurative sculptures made of hybrid materials(REDSTARTS, 2017). The project was initiated by the community coming together to explore the gallery space, followed by observations and realising their sculptures through plaster bandage. They explored textures for the skin of their sculptures. The process resulted in figures that were representative of the individual’s personalities. This promoted within the participant a sense of pride, ownership and freedom of exploration(REDSTARTS, 2017). They were able to communicate through drawings, photographs, as well as communicating through drama and storytelling. The Museum hosts an acclaimed collection of musical instruments. By exploring instruments from the collections, and inspired by bamboo kite flutes or whistles, the Turkish artist Ali Miharbi, has created a Wind Organ installation. It brings together nature, musical sounds and human vocal sounds. Here the objects in the collections have inspired an installation that plays music. Here the tangible objects are used to produce intangible heritage that have been documented as sound recordings and films contained within the museum’s Music Gallery.

By exploring the concept of storytelling using museum objects, the museum aimed to combat isolation(HornimanMuseum, 2017a, HornimanMuseum, 2017c, Blog, 2017). Shadow puppet workshops have been used to narrate stories in an easy way across all audiences(HornimanMuseum, 2017a, HornimanMuseum, 2017b). They engage the participant and convey the cultural value embedded through stories. Dance workshops have increased awareness of the rich heritage of India. The various workshops also open the public to appreciate and engage with the disappearing heritage in a dynamic way. Dance forms from various parts of India represent the cultural diversity that exists within India and thus promotes the National identity.

Overall, the exhibition(HornimanMuseum, 2017a) offered the visitors an experience of India’s cultural diversity. Sound, films, music and food encounters offered perspectives of the cultural heritage across India, which are undergoing rapid change. The museum along with the British Library Sound Archive has collaborated in a research partnership to document Music from India(REDSTARTS, 2017). By using audience participation, the museum aimed to promote its inclusion policy. It helped in developing confidence, pride and building identities. It has improved communication skills and listening skills. The puppet workshops were the most interesting methods to communicate and transfer an idea(HornimanMuseum, 2017b). The movements generated by inanimate 2D objects, their action and gestures are used in storytelling. This was a  dynamic method of transmission of culture. Younger children were provided with cut-out figures (shadow puppets). The audience could take back with them to reflect upon these material manifestations of the intangible heritage.

  1. Summary

This section concludes by providing an overview of the various outreach activities that museums have promoted in the safeguarding of ICH. They include learning outcomes, educational initiatives through partnerships, addressing social issues such as conflict in a peaceful manner, appreciating the links between tangible and intangible heritage. Through these activities, museums have tried to promote community identity, shift in cultural authority, and has been a source for engaging with communities in a participatory manner. It has also emphasized on transmission of traditions and the need for its dynamic maintenance for its continued viability and sustenance of the living(IH) heritage. These are discussed in-depth in the following concluding chapter.

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[1] Sequence followed: Description – Analysis – Discussion. Description and Analysis explained in Chapter 5, and Discussions in the concluding Chapter 6

[2] Lorna Cruickshanks, from the Museum’s Community Partnerships Team

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