Museums as leisure

Malcolm Foley, Gayle McPherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Museums are shifting from a focus upon education alone towards an accommodation of leisure markets. The authors do not consider these concepts of education and leisure, often presented as oppositional, to be irreconcilable within museum practice. Nevertheless, it is apparent that museum practice is changing, in part as a response to the pressures and opportunities of becoming assimilated into leisure markets, predominantly, but not only, as touristic attractions and often as key resources in local economic development. Stakeholders such as users, citizens or governments appear to be unconcerned about these changes in emphasis, whilst some within professional museum practice (also stakeholders) do not wholeheartedly welcome the moves. The authors argue that, historically, museums have been attributed a role in 'entertaining' users and that, in part at least, this was accepted by practitioners where the primary orientation was acquisition and conservation within the project of modernity. In such circumstances, the consumption of museum services was seen as mainly for academic, or educational, utility. More recently, consumption of museums shows evidence of being at least equally associated with meaning as well as utility, i.e. that exhibitions contribute to the assembly of particular lifestyles associated with touristic behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • commodification
  • leisure
  • managerialism
  • museums
  • tourism


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