Questing authenticity. Rethinking enlightenment and experience in living history

  • Tilde Strandbygaard Jessen Roskilde University
  • Anette Warring Roskilde University
Keywords: Living history, authenticity, museum history, visitors, Denmark.

Abstract

Living history is often construed as a symptom of a broader tendency in the heritage industry to align communication with emotional and multisensory ways of engaging with pasts, typically in contrast to the object-based museum. Living history, however, is nothing new. In this article, we will demonstrate that discourses of enlightenment and experience have been vital in discussions on living history long before the term experience economy was introduced. In order to do so, we look at the concept of authenticity and “the various meanings of authenticity” in three institutional settings at three different moments in time. As ethnographic studies of the multiplicity of authenticity in contemporary practices illustrate, authenticity offers an opportunity to explore not only how living history museums relate to society, but how they are perceived by the general public too. Perhaps the same is true if the concept is used on historical source materials?

Author Biographies

Tilde Strandbygaard Jessen, Roskilde University

Department of Communication and Arts,  

Ph.D. Fellow

Anette Warring, Roskilde University

Department of Communication and Arts, 

Professor

 

 

Section
Special Theme