Generalist or specialist

Generalist or specialist? The development of the museum profession since 1958

Project partners

PhD Fellow, cand.mag. Susanne Krogh Jensen and Professor, PhD Hans Dam Christensen, University of Copenhagen


Project period

1 September 2016 - 1 August 2019

Since the passing in 1958 of the first law concerning local historical museums, Danish museums have experienced a professionalization across a number of domains. Changing perceptions of the institutional role played by museums in welfare societies have informed changes in the expectations made to museum staff and to their actual work conditions. Key to these changes are ongoing debates about ways in which museum institutions handle dimensions of visitor enlightenment and experience. This project analyzes how Danish museum professions have developed since 1958, In empirical terms, the study is based on legislature and related documents of governance, on educational options for museum workers, and on strategic and practical implementation of these ramification at selected museums. A grounded documentation and discussion of the trajectory of museum professionalization in recent history provides a novel basis for understanding the current status of Danish museums as cultural institutions and a firm ground for acting on dilemmas inherent in their societal positioning.