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Safeguarding intangible heritage: five key obstacles facing museums of the North East of England

Author(s): Michelle L. Stefano

Journal: International Journal of Intangible Heritage
ISSN 1975-3586

Volume: 4;
Start page: 111;
Date: 2009;
Original page

As international awareness of the importance of intangible heritage grows, the issue of how it can be effectively safeguarded has been increasingly debated. In recent years, museums have been called upon to engage more with intangibles due to their shared concerns for both culture and preservation. However, traditional museology has tended to focus on tangible expressions of heritage as opposed to those of an intangible, or living,nature. In response to this debate, the following paper brings to light five key obstacles facing six museums in the North East of England with regard to safeguarding intangible heritage. Uncovering these obstacles has been achieved through an analysis of data from policies and documents, observation and in-depth interviews with professionals holding high levels of responsibility within these institutions. It is argued that these key obstacles, including the perceptions, efforts and limitations on which they are based, can negatively affect the effectiveness of safeguarding approaches with respect tointangible heritage.

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