Community Museography


Tool No. 10: Community Museography

Community Museography

Description of the tool

Museography is “(…) defined as the practical or applied aspect of museology, i.e. the set of techniques developed to carry out museum functions, particularly those concerning the museum’s layout, conservation, restoration, security and exhibition” (Desvallées and Mairesse, 2010).

The tool presented here will focus on the part of the exhibition set-up. The exhibition is the element that has marked part of the historical evolution of the contemporary museum. It has gone from being concerned with collections as a fetish to being concerned with heritage assets as the institution’s communicational axis. The exhibition, through museography, is the tool for interaction, visibility and identity of the image that emanates from the museum. The New Museology made it clear that the exhibition – like the museum itself – should be conceived as a means and not as an end. The exhibition would become the essential instrument for the presentation of heritage, investigating new languages and museographic techniques. This metamorphosis was not limited to the search for new exhibition languages, museographic media or narratives, but also to the involvement of the public in the elaboration of the museum scripts and museum montages.

With a view to the creation of ecomuseums, the exhibition has positioned itself as one of the most useful methods of heritage appropriation and dialogue between the community and the technical-specialists. Through the exhibition, the process of community action is initiated, leading to heritage awareness and the construction of an identity through which the community becomes involved in making decisions about its future and that of its territory. In conclusion, the (community) museum space becomes a social and cultural laboratory.


The main characteristics of community museography are:

  • Every exhibition (museographic) action must be associated with a public(s) in the community.
  • The exhibition is a way of giving a voice to the community: its memory, its toponymy, its needs and problems, its territory, etc.
  • Every exhibition should be a tool of global pedagogy (Freire, 1990) insofar as it serves, urges and generates a critical culture (Rivard, 1987).
  • Every exhibition is not an end, but a means of communication and dialogue with and for the community.


The main objectives of this tool are:

  • Generate multidisciplinary teams between specialists and members of the community.
  • Create museum spaces in the territory that are designed and implemented by the community.
  • Research on heritage assets and the different voices (narratives) that can be constructed about them.
  • Involve the population in the creation and management of an ecomuseum through the establishment of museum spaces.

Guidelines to apply the tool

An exhibition is a knowledge and communication strategy that, from a community perspective, is a method of sharing, collaborating and engaging with community members. It should, therefore, generate more questions, queries and dialogue than answers and closed narratives.

The exhibition project:

First step
The promoter team must establish the first parameters of what the museographic intervention will be. In this case, they can be summarised by answering two essential questions: What do we want to make visible and what do we want to do it for? These questions will serve to establish the main objective and theme of the exhibition and its purpose. The purpose of community museography is to address the needs, problems and concerns of the community.

Second step
In the second phase, a multidisciplinary team will be formed according to the pre-established objective and theme. It is essential that members of the community are involved in this team.
The working team will draw up a draft museum script to establish the main elements of the research (objectives, resources, timetable, etc.).

Third step
In this phase, the research work and the writing of the final project will be carried out:

  1. The research work must be carried out in three areas: (1) documentary and academic work, (2) field work in the territory, (3) work with the community.
  2. The drafting of the project must include all the technical aspects for its execution (equipment, type of exhibition, resources, timetable, didactics, etc.).

Fourth step
The last phase is the implementation and evaluation of the exhibition. It should not be forgotten that this is a participatory process, so both in the design (step 3) and in the execution (step 4) there must be a collaborative process where the community is the protagonist.

Support materials

The museographic installation depends on the resources available to the community. Depending on these, interpretative and museographic means of different magnitude can be designed. However, it should be remembered that in community museography it is not the number of courses that are relevant, but the participation of the community, so it is always a priority to bear in mind the first phases of any museographic project: what is it going to be done for? And with which members of the community is it going to be developed?

Number of participants: this toolkit focuses on community work, so its success will depend on the participation of a representative part of the community population.

Materials: for the development of this toolkit an exhibition space is necessary. This space must be adaptable to the needs of the museum script. Diaphanous and modular spaces are recommended.
The necessary economic resources will depend on the possibilities of the institution, local government, association, etc. However, it must be taken into account that a minimum of materials will be necessary, such as: showcases, bases, DIY and hardware materials, etc.

Technical team: it is convenient for the work team to have specialist personnel in museography, heritage interpretation, design, etc.


Alonso Fernández, Luis; y García Fernández, Isabel (2007). Diseño de exposiciones. Concepto, instalación y montaje. Madrid: Alianza.
García Blanco, A. (1999): La exposición, un medio de comunicación. Madrid: Akal.
Mateos Rusillo, S.; Marca Francés, G.; y Attardi Colina, O. (2016): La difusión preventiva del patrimonio cultural. Gijón: Trea.
Pérez Valencia, P. (2007). La insurrección expositiva. Cuando el montaje de exposiciones es creativo y divertido. Cuando la exposición se convierte en una herramienta subversiva. Gijón: Trea.


Scientific Coordinators