Accueil » Symposium, Tourism and museeum

Dates : 

 20 and 21 january 2011


Place :

Société de Géographie,

184 Bd Saint-Germain,

75006 Paris

Maria GRAVARI-BARBAS, géographe,

directrice de l'IREST, Université Paris 1,

directrice du laboratoire EIREST, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

directrice de la Chaire UNESCO Paris 1 "Culture, Tourisme, Développement"


Edith FAGNONI, géographe, MCF Université Paris-Sorbonne (IUFM),

laboratoire EIREST, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

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From the traditional museum, having survived the 19th century without any deep alteration, to the "event" museum exploited by urban planning and the tourist economy, museums have experienced a deep change in the last thirty years. They appear more and more as an opportunity for urban renewal. The end of the 20th century thus saw the birth of a new model of museum establishments, driven by a change in stakes, a change of scale and the development of the "management era". The very large museums, driven by an entrepreneurship move, are granted a reinforced autonomy; they extend their activities out, stretching to Bilbao, Metz, Lens, Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Hong Kong… creating subsidiaries. These projects of museums creations, becoming real cultural events at a local, national or international level are ushering in a new urban era. Culture becomes a major component of the town planning and a so-called "reference" museum is now considered as an appealing product, which may help re-qualifying a city and its territory and qualifying a tourist destination.

Objectives of the Symposium

This relationship between tourism and museum visits, often considered as obvious, remains almost unquestioned. However, if the museum "produces" tourism, it is also true that tourism "produces" the museum. Indeed, it seems that the notion of museum cannot be born in mind without referring to tourism, even if the museum cannot be considered as a mere artefact serving the touristic attractiveness. Similarly, the city produces museums and tourism, but conversely, museums and tourism produce the city. This dialectics which has been initiated at the end of the 19th century is taking a new shape today in a context of metropolisation.

The goal is to study this complex relationship between museums, tourisms, and cities, according to models of museums, to contexts, and to periods.

The point is, on the one hand, to examine what the museum as a means of specific cultural production owes to tourism, considering its strategies of localisation and development, ant its alterations, and on the other hand, to examine how the analysis of the museum as a specific place allows understanding about tourism and tourist practices.

The expected contributions should address all types of museums, but particularly the large ones at the international scale, allowing a better understanding of the necessity museum and tourism have to cooperate. The thoughts undertaken from a diachronical approach, taking into account the processes and temporalities, are encouraged.

This symposium on the relationships between large museums and tourism raises the question of museum evolutions, from the point of view of their restoring, of their territory impact, of the way they take tourism into account, of the mutations in terms of museology and of the new touristic practices associated to them.

Five major themes will shape the workshops of the symposium:

1.The connection between urban mutations, museums and tourism

2.The Museum and its fitting scales from an urban icon to a driver of territorial development

3.The evolution of the tourist practice, referring to the hypermodern skyline of the mixing of practices and of the combination of the differences.

4.The tourist in the museum

5.Tourism, a hidden dimension in the Museum studies?

The rhetorics of urban development/renewal is at the center of big museal projects. The cultural offer has become a major factor for the development of a city or a territory, an opportunity for developing tourism, a generator of economic incomes.

Museums are changing into multinationals of culture, risking a loss of local ties and a standardisation. The culture consumption has more and more influence on the touristic consumption and the vitality of culture leads the big museums to market their brand. The projects of so-called « stamped » museums like Guggenheim or The Louvres in Abu Dhabi are examples of such a tendency and the brand is a proof of this meaningful tie between culture and tourism. But some authorities of the art world are proclaiming the actual inclination of art to business. Regularly, the debate brings back in the public eye the supposed business inclinations of some major institutions, said to be only concerned by their "tourist attractiveness" and the critics are putting forward development strategies based on communication, spectacular and demagogic cultural choices, slipping towards the merchandisation of culture ("blockbusters" exhibits) at the expense of other goals traditionally attributed to museums, at least in their French design: cultural democratisation, knowledge diffusion, enhancement of heritage value… The regularly dismissed opposition between tourism and culture seems to come back to surface in these contemporary debates.

If museums appear more and more as actors in development policies, the point is to evaluate their impacts on a touristic level. This is the perspective adopted by this symposium. The point is to reach a deeper understanding of the renewed relationship, between museums and tourisms, in the frame of urban and metropolitan development or renovation.