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Transforming author museums

What do author museums tell us much about the author’s writing, we ask? Why do some authors get to have museum, and others do not?

About the project

We often think of author museums as places of old-fashioned cult of national heroes or just for fans. They are often housed in what was once a home and attempt to convey a special aura around the space and various objects the author once owned. Author museums are however responding to changes in the way we think about authors and literature.

The research project "TRAUM - Transforming Author Museums" asks how they are changing and how we might imagine them in the future.

  • How might author museums give us a better understanding, not only of an author’s life, but also the creative process, the role of literature, and indeed the author’s writing?
  • In an age of cultural diversity, how do they help create new kinds of cultural identity?
  • How can they help develop the role of literature in democracies today?

The research project "TRAUM - Transforming Author Museums" brings together theoretical and hands-on expertise on literature, history, museums and tourism. It will investigate how author museums are responding to new ways of thinking culture, literature and exhibitions.

  • What has been and what will be the role of author museums in creating cultural identity and debate?
  • What kinds of innovations are they and could they be making in order to represent lives and literature?
  • Why do people visit author museums today? Can author museums learn from other ways of exhibiting literature, and from new ways of making exhibitions in general?

A working hypothesis is that the answers to these questions lie in the way in which author museums interlink real and literary spaces, texts, objects and readers. With this in mind, the project will be studying regional, national (in Norway authors writing in both the bokmål and nynorsk standard variants) and international examples. It aims to give insight into the role of literature and the humanities in contemporary societies.


The Project is financed by The Research Council of Norway. Duration: 2016-2019.


The project is led by the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and is a cooperation with the University of Oslo. Project leader is Ulrike Spring, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences/University of Oslo, working together with Johan Schimanski, University of Oslo.

Symposia and conferences

The project's first open symposium took place at the University of Oslo on 20 October 2016. See the programme here.

The project had an internal workshop at Hamsunsenteret 14-17. September 2017.

The project conference "Literary Exhibitions and Author Museums: Pasts, Presents and Futures" was held in Sogndal, 6-7. September 2018. See description and program here.

In October 2018, Prof. Nicola Watson, Open University, was guest researcher at the University of Oslo, and held a guest lecture on household effects in the writer’s house museum.

Two public seminars/debates are planned for the Spring of 2019, at the Perspektivet museum (Tromsø, May 21, "Den vanskelige forfatteren”), the National Library of Norway (Oslo, May 28, "Å stille ut litteratur og forfattere").

A further public seminar/debate will be held at a later point at the Austrian National Library’s literature museum.

The project invites interested listeners to two guest lectures on literature in museums, on 19 June 2019 at the University of Oslo, by Dr. Helmut Neundlinger, the Danube University Krems, and Hon.-Prof. Dr. Heike Gfrereis, the German Literature Archive in Marbach.

The project has regular reading groups on the study of author museums in Oslo and in Sogndal.

More information

For more information, see project home page at


Egeland, Marianne. “Bjørnson og Aulestad: «Uadskillelige» Og «Uløselige»? Fortellinger Om En Dikter og Hans Hjem”. Sakprosa 10.1 (2018): 1-38.

Egeland, Marianne (2018). “Aulestads besværlige arv: ‘Godviljens høvdingsete’ og ‘nazireir’. Historisk Tidsskrift: 297-315.

Hendrix, Harald. “His Master’s House. Pilgrimages to the Homes and Haunts of Great Italian Authors”, i Matteo Brera og Susanna Grazzini, red., ‘Tu se’ lo mio maestro e ‘l mio Autore’: Dieci studi su ‘authorship’ e intertestualità culturale, Firenze: Cesati, 2017, s. 23-33.

Lande, Dana Ryan. “Reading Sol Plaatje in Kimberley: A South African Author Museum”. South African Journal of Cultural History 32.2 (2018): 47-60.

Nath, Atanu, and Parmita Saha. “A Theoretical Positioning of Self and Social Identities as Antecedents in Cultural-Experiential Tourism”. Academica Turistica 10.2 (2017): 115-28.

Watson, Nicola J. “At Juliet’s Tomb: Anglophone Travel-writing and Shakespeare’s Verona, 1814-1914”, i Silvia Bigliazzi og Lisanna Calvi, red., Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, and Civic Life: The Boundaries of Civic Space. New York: Routledge, 2016, pp. 224-237.

Spring, Ulrike. “Die Inszenierung von Archivmaterial in musealisierten Dichterwohnungen.” Schauplatz Archiv: Objekt – Narrativ – Performanz. Eds. Kastberger, Klaus, Stefan Maurer and Christian Neuhuber. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2019. 141-55.

Aarbakke, Thea. “Emma & Edvard – Kjærlighet i Ensomhetens Tid. Munchmuseet i Oslo. 28. Januar 2017-17. April 2017”. Nordisk Museologi 1 (2017): 152-56.

Aarbakke, Thea. “Ottar Grepstad (red.) 2018. Forfattarens skriftstader. Litterære museum i norsk minnepolitikk”. Tidsskrift for kulturforskning 17.2 (2018): 89-92.


Tags: Literature, Museums and Museology, Museum studies, Author museums, Literary Reception, Cultural history, History, Tourism
Published June 8, 2016 10:35 AM - Last modified July 5, 2019 12:49 PM