The marketization of museum discourse? A case study of the Auckland Museum, 1978 - 2006
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The question of whether ‘culture’ should be subjected to the ‘whims’ of the free market is not new. It is, however, relatively recent within the museum sector. In addition, associated debates typically frame marketization and commodification as polar opposites to more traditional notions of what a public museum should be. This dissertation seeks to deconstruct such discourse by using a loose framework of marketization and promotional culture to discuss the changing identity of the public museum. From a critical case study of New Zealand’s Auckland War Memorial Museum—an institution with a long history of traditional public-sector values—a hybrid discourse analytic approach is utilised with a sample of four Annual Reports. Analysed thematically to compare various elements of traditional and contemporary museology, these Reports reveal quite clearly that multiple elements of both perspectives can be incorporated into a museum’s identity. Thus the idea of a radical ‘break’ between the old and the new is rather more rhetorical than is often suggested.