The two projects at the centre of this thesis are a New Labour Government initiative, Culture Online (2002-2007), and one of its commissioned projects, Every Object Tells a Story (2003- 2007), which was based at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Both developed during a period of transition in the publicly subsidised cultural sector in the context of increasingly intertwined discourses about education, the transformative power of museums, and new digital technologies. Both could be seen as exercises in the democratisation of culture and the demonstration of its public value, which were central strands in the development of New Labour's cultural policy between 1997 and 2007, thus providing useful case studies in relation to the implementation of this policy. Using a toolbox of methodologies, I have argued that the two projects were expressions, on one hand, of New Labour's cultural policy and, on the other of the museum sector's ambitions to achieve greater social relevance and perceived public value. Highlighting the tensions within and between the projects, the thesis identifies how the museum sector used ideas about learning and the new digital technologies to reformulate the value and work of museums both to attract higher levels of public engagement and to represent them as centres of social change. My research explores the problems of confusing and conflicting agendas both in the development of New Labour's cultural policy and in the attempts by museums to demonstrate their value in an ideological environment where new media are seen as determining the direction of change, and cultural learning or education is seen as offering people a means of adapting to change.
|Earle, Wendy E. J.
|University College London (University of London)
|Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
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