Pa-KOW! Doing Participation in Museums and Archives

A PhD project investigating  participation in museums and archives from the perspective of the user.

About the project

The relationship between museums and archives and their audiences is being understood, and mediated by digital technology, in new ways. The “participatory turn” in museum and archival practice is changing what museums collect and exhibit, but also where and how audiences interact with content from institutions, and what audiences do with that content. From an institutional perspective, the opportunities and challenges of these new venues for engagement are just beginning to be mapped in the research. Even less is known about what different kinds of participatory activities means for users.

Three case studies explore the epistemic practices and tensions between communities of practices that emerge when staff from museums and archives interact with external participants. 

Case 1: User Responses to a Municipal Museum’s Facebook Concept

The first case explores public participation on social media through the analysis of user comments about historical photographs posted on Facebook by a municipal history museum. This case involved the retrospective collection of data about The Museum of Oslo’s activity on Facebook and an interview with the museum’s social media manager.

Case 2: Citizen Science at a Natural History Museum and the Participation of a Local Botanical Society

The second case documents a citizen science project in which a natural history museum invited members of a local botanical society to improve metadata about the museum’s collections. This case involved participatory activities designed through a research-practice partnership with the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum.

Case 3: Collecting and Contextualizing Youth Perspectives in a Folklore Archive

The third case follows the development of a youth engagement program by a folklore archive and includes an analysis of material collected by youth participants. This case involved participatory activities designed through a research-practice partnership with the Norwegian Folklore Archive.

The project is being conducted during a four-year PhD fellowship (2016-2020) in the Department of Education at the University of Oslo, and is part of the nationally financed research project, “Cultural Heritage Mediascapes: Innovation in Knowledge and Mediation Practices.”

See the Cultural Heritage Mediascpes project pages for more details:


Cultural Heritage Mediascapes is financed by the Norwegian Research Council through the KULMEDIA Program (2015–2019).

Published Mar. 30, 2016 12:25 PM - Last modified Aug. 3, 2021 1:02 PM