Digging into Downstairs: Exhibiting Domestic Service

Hanne Osthus, Ulrike Spring

Abstract


This article is a case study of a newly opened exhibition at one of the most significant lieux de mémoire in Norway, the historic house museum Eidsvoll House. Eidsvoll House has, since 1814, played a key role in Norwegian stateand nation-building narratives and continues to do so today. The article explores the tenacity of national narratives by investigating the role museums play in contemporary nation-building processes. It particularly looks at attempts to integrate domestic servants into this dominant and controlling narrative, and investigates the complex relationship between social history, national narratives and museum communication strategies. It problematizes the exhibition strategy, popular at historic houses, of recreating the past at a specific juncture of time and argues that such an approach might help to reaffirm social hierarchies. On a more general level, the article aims to contribute to a productive exchange between academic and museum approaches to history.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Hanne Osthus, Ulrike Spring

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360