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Death Sells: Thanatourism Theming as a Sustainability Strategy at Gotlands Museum
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Over the past century the phenomenon of thanatourism, or dark tourism, has become increasingly popular, with tourists now able to encounter death at a wide range of sites across the world. While much scholarship has focused on tourism at sites of disaster and atrocity, less research has taken place into thanatourism in a museum context.

This thesis investigates how Gotlands Museum is offering its visitors a dark tourism experience by adopting thanatourism theming in its exhibitions and programmes. It explores the ways the museum presents Gotland’s dark history, asks how and why the museum has adopted thanatourism as a thematisation strategy, and considers whether this strategy is helping the institution achieve future sustainability.

This study is based on in-depth interviews with current staff members at the museum, who have been involved with creating exhibitions and presenting programmes related to Gotland’s dark history. Detailed observation of the exhibitions Medieval Gotland and 1361 – The Battle for Gotland, as well as the guided city tour The Bloody Summer, also provide additional data.

The study finds that Gotlands Museum has harnessed the ‘purposeful Otherness’ of death through implementing thanatourism theming in both its permanent exhibitions and public programming in order to reach new and wider audiences. It also finds that this is an example of the museum embracing new museology and adopting the customer-centric focus of the tourism industry by presenting thrilling exhibitions and programmes to attract more visitors.

The study suggests that by implementing popular thanatourism-themed exhibitions and programmes, Gotlands Museum has been able to be economically, socially and culturally sustainable by attracting visitors, educating diverse groups, telling diverse stories and preserving Gotland’s history for future generations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 61
Series
Degree Project in Sustainable Destination Development ; 19 004
Keywords [en]
sustainable destination development, destination development, sustainable tourism, tourism, heritage tourism, dark tourism, thanatourism, museums, new museology, Gotlands Museum, Gotland, Gotlandic history, sustainability
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-384490OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-384490DiVA, id: diva2:1320806
Subject / course
Sustainable Destination Development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Destination Development (60 credits)
Presentation
2019-05-23, E30, Campus Gotland, Cramérgatan 3, Visby, 11:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-12 Created: 2019-06-05 Last updated: 2019-06-12Bibliographically approved

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