A project on transforming author museums

TRAUM – Transforming Author Museums

We often think of author museums as places of old-fashioned cult of national heroes or just for fans. They are often housed in what was once a home and attempt to convey a special aura around the space and various objects the author once owned. What do they tell us much about the author’s writing, we ask? Why do some authors get to have museum, and others do not?

Author museums are however responding to changes in the way we think about authors and literature. This project asks how they are changing and how we might imagine them in the future. How might author museums give us a better understanding, not only of an author’s life, but also the creative process, the role of literature, and indeed the author’s writing? In an age of cultural diversity, how do they help create new kinds of cultural identity? How can they help develop the role of literature in democracies today?

This research project brings together theoretical and hands-on expertise on literature, history, museums and tourism. It will investigate how author museums are responding to new ways of thinking culture, literature and exhibitions. What has been and what will be the role of author museums in creating cultural identity and debate? What kinds of innovations are they and could they be making in order to represent lives and literature? Why do people visit author museums today? Can author museums learn from other ways of exhibiting literature, and from new ways of making exhibitions in general?

A working hypothesis is that the answers to these questions lie in the way in which author museums interlink real and literary spaces, texts, objects and readers. With this in mind, the project will be studying regional, national (in Norway authors writing in both the bokmål and nynorsk standard variants) and international examples. It aims to give insight into the role of literature and the humanities in contemporary societies.