The Workers’ Museum

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Louise Lydeking
  • Benny Holm
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
This dissertation treats of The Workers’ Museum in Copenhagen, which is a national museum communicating workers’ history. The museum is interesting in an analytical context, as it is a young museum (established in 1982) it is possible to comprehend the history from establishment up until today, with particular reference to which mind sets that underlie the establishing of the museum, the daily work, as well as the tools of communication. In continuation hereof it becomes particularly interesting to look into how the museum communicates the workers’ political and cultural history in practice, and in connection with this; how the exhibitions are built up, along with which methods they use to convey the message. Our overall problem for this dissertation is thus broadly asked, what is The Workers’ Museum, and what is their communicative point of reference with regards to the debate on museums and the interplay between construction of the past, contemporary understanding and future expectations? The dissertation gives a broad introduction to how the museum was established, how they have renovated the buildings to make them appear in their original shape, how the exhibitions are built up, along with an introduction to the museum’s Friends Organisation and the related publication. Moreover we complement with an analysis of the museum’s communication, primarily through exhibitions, to give an insight to their angle on cultural heritage, and the selection of this, along with the memory processes that are brought into play. In the discussion of this the museum’s authenticity concept is debated, which consists of a combination of authentic objects and reconstructed artefacts. It is discussed how the museum tells the big story through the little stories, meaning that the periodic narrative is conveyed through individual families’ stories/histories. Additionally it is discussed how this approach strengthens the public’s sense of identification with the displayed artefacts and the narrated story/history, with that the museum incorporates a number of cognitive processes, in which they play on emotions and individual memory in connection with collective memory. Subsequently the museum’s ideological reference point for their communication is discussed, and is established as a history-from-below-ideology in which the keywords are: labour conflict, democracy, solidarity, reformism and the working man’s struggle for acceptance and equality on the cultural level. Furthermore it is discussed whether this causes the museum to become a political museum and history communicator. Lastly we complement with a broadening discussion of the museums’, and in particular The Workers’ Museum’s, terms under the politically desired culture and experience economy. The pivotal point of the dissertation is therefore an outlining of the connection between ideology, use of, and view on history as well as the communication of history. Thus the dissertation constitutes a professional historic angle on how to analyse and assess the communicative operations of a cultural historic museum.
Publication date2005
Number of pages146
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 6139708