It’s undeniable: collecting the contemporary is hot. More and more ethnographic museums and city museums in the Western world look beyond their walls and go out into the street searching for contemporariness. What’s motivating them? At the basis of this development appears to be a more fundamental shift in the social role and significance of museums – a shift that started in the 1970s and is still far from complete. The classic function of the museum, as a temple and patron of cultural heritage, is no longer an apt label to most museum professionals. There is a call for change, both from within the ranks of museums as well as on the level of governmental policies. The museum as such needs to transform from a closed and elite institution into an open venue aimed at a broader audience. Limiting a collection to the highlights of art and culture as landmarks of a national history does no longer suffice. At the same time, our notion of cultural heritage itself has been widened to include other domains of culture, such as intangible heritage, digital heritage or popular heritage.
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Reijnders, S., Rooijakkers, G., & Verreyke, H. (2014). From display cabinets to engine rooms. In Sophie Elpers, Anna Palm (eds), Die Musealisierung der Gegenwart. Von Grenzen und Chancen des Sammelns in kulturhistorischen Museen. Transcript Verlag, [planned for] March 2014 (pp. 29–40). Retrieved from