The Role of Museums of Sport in the UK
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The Role of Museums of Sport in the UK Kevin Moore Museum Director, National Football Museum 11/9/07 The role of museums of sport in the UK 1. How have sports museums developed? 2. How valuable and effective are sports museums? 3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

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The Role of Museums of Sport in the UK

Kevin Moore

Museum Director, National Football Museum

11/9/07


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The role of museums of sport in the UK

  • 1. How have sports museums developed?

  • 2. How valuable and effective are sports museums?

  • 3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

  • 4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

  • 5. How should sports museums develop in future?


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Parameters

  • Museums, not heritage

  • Museums, not archives and libraries

  • UK, not global

  • Concentrate on ‘national’, rather than local/club specific


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Mapping Studies of Sport Museums

  • Global:

  • Danilov, 1997 and 2005

  • International Sports Heritage Association: Directory (online)

  • www.musee-online.org

  • UK: Sports Heritage Network, 2005 (Annie Hood)

  • BSSH Sports History Bibliographical Service

  • Directory of Sports Museums

  • Richard Cox

  • ‘disconnected due to plagiarism of the data’


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Development of sports museums worldwide

  • History of development not written, sketched by Danilov (2005)

  • 580 sports halls of fame and museums, in 46 countries

  • (Which are museums? Criteria for inclusion?)

  • Includes checkers, frisbee, horseshoe pitching!

  • North American lead:

  • More than 400 of these in US

  • Canada - second - 39

  • UK - third – 23 (SHN survey = 45)


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Development of sports museums worldwide

  • 1874 – National Mountaineering Museum, Turin (?)

  • (1864 – Lords?)

  • 1910s onwards– development in Europe

  • e.g. Olympic Museum, Lausanne, 1915

  • 1930s – development in USA

  • e.g. 1936 – Cooperstown

  • 1950s onwards – Eastern Europe

  • History remains to be written


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Types of Sports Museums

  • Museum

  • Hall of Fame

  • Museum and Hall of Fame

  • Hall of Fame and Museum

  • Individual Sport

  • Multi-sport/all sports

  • Local

  • College/University

  • National

  • International/Global


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Sports museums in UK

  • Sports Heritage Network (SHN) Survey

  • 45 sports specific museums

  • But registered/accredited =?

  • Plus 12 museums with large sporting collections

  • A great deal of material in non-sport museums (contrary to Vamplew, 1998, p.269)


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Sports museums in UK

For top 11 sports (as defined by SHN survey)

‘National’ museums for 8 (in some cases more than one, totalling 11)

  • Athletics – no

  • Boxing – no

  • Cricket – yes

  • Football – yes, England and Scotland

  • Golf – yes

  • Horseracing – yes

  • Motor sports – yes, three

  • Rowing – yes

  • Rugby Union – yes

  • Rugby League – no

  • Tennis - yes


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Sports museums in UK

  • Reasons for gaps:

  • Lack of public interest in athletics?

  • Boxing - ‘not pc’ and ‘working class’?

  • Rugby League - ‘working class’ and ‘northern’?

  • Welsh Football Collection, but not Northern Ireland (sustainability)

  • Angling?

  • Do the gaps matter?


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Sports museums in UK

When established:

  • MCC – 1953

  • Scottish Football Museum – 2000

  • National Football Museum – 2001

  • British Golf Museum – 1990

  • National Horseracing Museum – 1983

    Motor Sports:

    • Donington – 1973

    • Brooklands –

    • National Motorcycle Museum – 1984 (not just sport)

  • River and Rowing Museum – 1998

  • Rugby Union – 1996

  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum – 1977

  • US Soccer Hall of Fame – 1979

    Sport traditionally not valued in museum terms in UK

    - as with/as part of popular culture (Moore, 1997)


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1. How have sports museums developed?

Sports museums in UK

  • 7 registered museums with Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), 4 not

  • 4 independent charitable trusts

  • 4 run by governing bodies

  • 3 private (motor sports)


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2. How valuable and effective are sports museums?

  • If Museums have value

  • If sport is important part of culture

  • Then sports museums potentially have value

  • But how does this relate to the value of e.g. museums of the arts or railways?


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2. How valuable and effective are sports museums?

Functional value and effectiveness

Collections

  • Measured by registration/ accreditation

    Research

  • Highly restricted by funding

  • Partnerships vital, e.g. IFI

    Interpretation and education

  • Measured by accreditation, public response, review and awards etc.

    Purpose and values

  • Only the 7 registered museums have publicly available mission statements


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2. How valuable and effective are sports museums?

Valuable and effective to whom?

Public

  • Around 700,000 visitors p.a. in total

    • (but 250,000 of these are at National Motorcycle Museum)

      Outreach users?

      Website users?

      Research users?

      Visitors at other locations?

      Education users?

      Social inclusion impact?


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2. How valuable and effective are sports museums?

Government

  • Sports museums receive £100,000 pa. from DCMS (NFM)

    Sports governing bodies

  • Only 4 run and fund museums

    Museums community

  • Undervalued by - hence need for Sports Heritage Network (SHN)

    Academics

    Cultural policy

  • Current debate on measuring impact of museums (Holden, 2006).


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

  • From 1980s: Reviews of individual museums

  • Vamplew, 1998, 2004

  • Moore, 1997, 2003a, 2003b, 2004

  • Johnes and Mason, 2003

  • Forslund, 2006

  • Brabazon, 2006a, 2006b

  • Brabazon and Mallinder, 2006


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.1 Sports museums create an uncritical, celebratory history

Nostalgia, celebration, winners not losers

  • ‘sports museums cater to the nostalgia market and have, almost without exception, institutionalised the concept of a “golden age” in virtually every sport’.

    Vamplew, 1998, 270.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

  • ‘Errors of fact and interpretation persist and myths are perpetuated despite historical research to the contrary’.

  • ‘Jingoism at national and club triumphs abounds’

    Vamplew, 1998, 270, 272.

  • ‘Few make connections between sport and the social setting in which it operated’.

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 120.

3.1 Sports museums create an uncritical, celebratory history


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.2 Museums collections are not of value to academics for research

  • unlike libraries and archives

  • little value in artefacts, film, photographs etc.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history- a limited form of history

  • - even if done well

  • - 250 words maximum per topic!

  • - quality of history limited by audience needs – lowest common denominator

    ‘the presentation of information is too simplistic and fails to demonstrate the subtleties of historical argument’

    Vamplew, 1998, 271.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.1 Sports museums create an uncritical, celebratory history

Response

  • Sometimes, yes.

  • Why, if so?

  • 1. PR vehicles for governing bodies/clubs/sponsors – censorship or self censorship

    ‘A major difficulty is the formal and informal pressure that sponsoring bodies can exert on nominally independent institutions’.

    (Vamplew, 2004, 187).

  • 2. Bums on seats – giving the public what they want – for commercial reasons

    ‘fans of the sport might be upset by the intervention of real history into the fantasy world of nostalgia’

    Vamplew, 1998, 275.

    ‘Fortunately some museums have gone beyond the conventional boundaries of their sport’

    Vamplew, 1998, 272.

  • And many more since 1998?


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

Public and nostalgia

  • ‘.. must the attracting of visitors necessarily involve resorting to the traditional heroic narratives of sport?’

    Hill, 2007

  • ‘Do fans really prefer the happy ending? This is questionable’

    Vamplew, 1998, 275.

  • ‘… most sports fans prefer positive memories of their sport’

    Vamplew, 2004, 186.

  • Very definitely not the experience of the National Football Museum – in terms of what visitors say they want – and in terms of our approach.

  • ‘Popular culture, because of its ephemeral nature, is a delicate source in museum discourse because it encourages nostalgia but requires curatorial work to bring the critique and questioning into the visitor’s vista’.

    Brabazon and Mallinder, 2006, 97-8.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

Nostalgia

  • A yearning for the return of past circumstances, events, etc.

  • The evocation of this emotion, as in a book, film etc.

  • Longing for home or family; homesickness

  • Nothing intrinsically wrong with museums creating feelings of nostalgia – museums should be places of emotion as well as thought

    • as long as they do not foster myths and untruths


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.2 Museums collections are not of value to academics for research

Response

  • Material culture, defined as artefacts, film, images, photography, oral recordings, is a potentially immensely valuable source for academic research

  • ‘Most academic sports historians generally prefer text … few make adequate, if any, use of artefacts and the like’

    Vamplew, 1998, 276.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history

Response

3.3.1 Public history not academic history

  • ‘museums do not exist for that minority of the population called “sports historians”

    Vamplew, 1998, 276.

  • ‘We should not dismiss too readily the entertainment aspects of sports museums, for this is surely also a function of sport’

    Vamplew, 1998, 274.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history

Response

3.3.2 Popular exhibitions can be based on very thorough curatorial research – drawing on the work of academics

  • ‘ … is there any reason why sports history exhibitions cannot be good history?’

    Vamplew, 1998, 278.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history

Response

3.3.2 Popular exhibitions can be based on very thorough curatorial research – drawing on the work of academics

  • ‘… museums are in many ways an ideal space within which to reflect on the wider picture of football and its social significance. Museums – if done well – are particularly suited to provide a more critical historical perspective that will encourage visitors to make links between the past, present, and future’

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 120.

  • ‘We only noted one factual error in the text’

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 126, reviewing the National Football Museum


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history

Response

3.3.3 Multimedia approach can achieve things academic history cannot

  • Museums can engage sight, sound, smell, touch, even taste … and a range of emotions

  • ‘Sports museums are the best places to replicate the performance, drama, romance, passion and emotion of sport, something many sports historians fail to do when they move from reality to the record’

    Vamplew, 1998, 279.

  • ‘Museums provide a multisensory context through the combination of material culture, sound, film, photography, oral testimonies and stories told through special arrangements’

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 120.


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3. How valid are academic critiques of sports museums?

3.3 Exhibition is not a valid form of serious history

Response

3.3.4 Museums have the advantage of being social spaces

  • ‘… the real distinctiveness of museums is that they are physical, and crucially, communal spaces which people inhabit together during their visit. The social nature of museum visiting is important because it entails exchanges and interactions between visitors…….

  • The interaction between museum visitors as they respond, not just to the displays but to each other’s interpretation of those displays, results in an important exchange of memories and histories between individuals… museum visiting is as much about negotiating and cementing relationships between visitors as it is about seeing material culture’.

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 120-1.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

  • ‘The NFM is thus taking forward the game’s public history and helping it develop a more reflective and informed character that extends beyond nostalgia and an obsession with records and statistics’

  • ‘The NFM encourages fans to feel some ownership over the game’s past and that can only encourage them to feel the same over its future too’.

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 130-1.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

  • ‘… a brilliant, evocative, interactive celebration of football’

    Brabazon, 2006b, 285.

  • ‘… a remarkable museum’

    Brabazon and Mallinder, 2006, 107.

  • ‘It is flawlessly constructed, innovative in method and considered in its selection of items’

    Brabazon, 2006a, 71.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

4.1 Not conveying the experience of live football

  • ‘goals on a small television screen no more capture the atmosphere and feeling of live football than Sky television is a substitute for being there …. A heritage site (as opposed to a museum) might have tried to recreate the atmosphere of the terraces using technology to simulate the smells, noises and overcrowding”.

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 128.

  • Bigger screens and a real terrace to stand on?!


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

  • 4.2 Objects not in context

  • Object displays in the first half:

  • ‘This is perhaps where the exhibition feels less coherent since there is only limited explanation of the objects on show and visitors are left to make their own links with the narrative on the other wall’.

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 127.

  • Collect objects in sets

  • Display objects in sets

    (see Moore, 1997)


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

4.3 Not addressing football and identity

  • ‘there is nothing explicit on exactly what football has contributed to English national identity, or civic and other localised identities’

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 129.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

4.4 Not addressing the ‘Why’ of football

  • ‘Nor is the question asked why football inspires such loyalty and devotion’

    Johnes and Mason, 2003, 129.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

4.5 Weakness of Location (while recognising strengths)

  • ‘I spent five hours, dazed by all the wonders, and can’t wait to go again. It’s brilliant … I honestly, sincerely think it is amazing …

  • If it’s so brilliant, as I maintain, and if football is so successful, rich and popular with millions, why have people not being queuing all the way along the M6? …

  • Football-wise, as all football historians know, being in Preston is justified, but perhaps not otherwise. Who wants to go there? I’ve had specific reasons for four visits in 40-odd years, but wouldn’t have gone otherwise’

    Hunter Davies, quoted in Brabazon and Mallinder, 2006, 105.


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4. Academic critiques: Case Study – National Football Museum

“Perhaps the real problem is the football psyche. Becks has not been there, not any present-day national football star, but Bobby Charlton and all the 1966 team have. Today’s players think only of today, not where they and their football have come from.

Most football fans, especially new ones, are the same. It takes time for them to realise that there is a past. It’s great that our National Football Museum exists but, like Martin Peters, it could well be ten years ahead of itself.”

Hunter Davies, New Statesman, 23 September 2002.

  • Museums should not just be (and been seen as) about the past……. But also the present, and the future.


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5. How should sports museums develop in future? Museum

1. Greater independence from sports governing bodies and private bodies?

  • No more realistic than independence of sponsorship and admissions income!

    2. Greater public funding?

  • Would only be given to registered museums

    3. Greater recognition by Government and museums community?

  • Has to be earned/lobbied for – SHN


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5. How should sports museums develop in future? Museum

4. Greater engagement with academics?

  • Yes, but sports museums have very limited budgets for research

  • Has to be a partnership, has to be two-way

    (Vamplew, 1998, 268).


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5. How should sports museums develop in future? Museum

  • ‘Only a few sports historians) enliven their teaching and enlighten their students by encouraging them to examine sporting artefacts and/or attend exhibitions’

    (Vamplew, 1998, 268).

4. Greater engagement with academics?


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5. How should sports museums develop in future? Museum

5. More challenging displays?

  • Yes

    6. More sports museums?

  • No - sustainability

    7. National Sports Museum?

  • As in USA


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References Museum

  • Brabazon, T. , 2006a, Playing on the Periphery: Sport, Identity and Memory, Routledge.

  • Brabazon, T 2006b,'Museums and Popular Culture Revisited: Kevin Moore and the Politics of Pop', Museum Management and Curatorship, 21, 283-301.

  • Brabazon, T., and Mallinder, S., 2006,'Popping the museum: the Cases of Sheffield and Preston', Museum and Society: July 4(2), 96-112.

  • Danilov, V., 1997, Hall of Fame Museums: a Reference Guide, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut.

  • Danilov, V., 2005,Sports Museums and Halls of Fame Worldwide, Macfarland and Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London.

  • Forslund, P., 2006, ' "Football is Forever". The Establishment and Purposes of Football Museums’, Masters Dissertation, International Museum Studies, Göteborg University.

  • Hill, J, 2007, 'Sport, history and heritage‘, Unpublished Paper, AHRC Seminar.

  • Holden, J., 2006, Cultural Value and the Crisis of Legitimacy. Why culture needs a democratic mandate, Demos, London.

  • Hood, A., 2005, Sports Heritage Network Mapping Survey. An overview of Sports Heritage Collections.

  • Johnes, M., Mason, R., 2003, 'Soccer, public history and the National Football Museum', Sport in Public History, 23(1).

  • Moore, K., 1997, Museums and Popular Culture, Leicester University Press.

  • Moore, K., 2003a,‘Marketing Sports Museums: Attracting New Audiences?’ ’Revista de Museologia, Madrid.

  • Moore, K., 2003b ‘The People’s Museum of the Peoples Game? The National Football Museum England’, ‘Revista de Museologia,Madrid.

  • Moore, K., 2004, ‘Attracting new audiences: The National Football Museum, England', in M: Museums of Mexico and the World, Volume 2, Mexico City.

  • Vamplew, W., 1998, 'Facts and Artefacts: Sports, Historians and Sports Museums', Journal of Sport History, Volume 25, No 2, 268-279.

  • Vamplew, W., 2004, 'Taking a Gamble or a Racing Certainty: Sports, Museums and Public Sports History', Journal of Sport History, Volume 31, No 2, 177-192.

  • Wood, J., 2005, 'Olympic opportunity: realising the value of sport heritage for tourism in the UK', Journal of Sport Tourism, 10(4), 307-321.


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