Destination Museum

A Conversation with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

in Museum Worlds
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  • 1 Victoria University of Wellington
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What was the first museum you remember visiting?

I was born in September 1942 during the war. My parents came from Poland. Three weeks after I was born, 6,500 Jews from my father's hometown, Opatów (Apt, in Yiddish), 65% of the population, disappeared overnight. All but 500 were sent to the Treblinka death camp, and the rest to a forced labour camp.

So I grew up in an immigrant neighbourhood in the immediate postwar years. I went through an ultra-Orthodox period (my parents were horrified). I became not only strictly kosher, but also I observed the Sabbath very strictly. That meant I could not ride, spend money, turn on the radio, write, tear paper … I could do almost nothing. Except … I could walk to the Royal Ontario Museum. … and I did. So this was before the era of helicopter parents. At the age of 10, 11, 12 years old, I would walk out of my house, through Queen's Park, to the ROM, and that was my beloved childhood museum.

Museum Worlds

Advances in Research

  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 1991. “Objects of ethnography.” In Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, edited by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, 386443. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 1995. “American Jewish Life: Ethnographic approaches to collection, presentation and interpretation in museums.” In Folklife and museums: Selected readings, edited by Patricia Hall and Charlie Seeman, 14362. New York: Altamira Press.

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  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 1998. Destination culture: Tourism, museums, and heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2004. “Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production.” Museum International 56, nos. 1–2 (2004): 5264.

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  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2006. “World heritage and cultural economics.” In Museum frictions: Public cultures/Global transformations, edited by Ivan Karp and Corinne A. Kratz et al. , 161202. Durham London: Duke University Press.

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  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2011. “From Ethnology to Heritage: The Role of the Museum.” In Entre Autres / Among Others: Proceedings of Conference, 2004. Reprinted in Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts, revised edition. Ed. Bettina Messias Carbonell. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

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  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2015. “Historical Space and Critical Museologies: Museum of the History of Polish Jews.” In From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, edited by Murawska-Muthesius, Kataryna, and Piotr Piotrowski, Farnham: Ashgate.

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  • POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. https://www.polin.pl/en/about-museum

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