University of Leicester
2023MaLPhD.pdf (6.24 MB)

Developing community museums in urban China

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posted on 2024-01-18, 11:00 authored by Lijia Ma

A community museum is a dynamic and fluid concept with indigenous and culturally appropriate approaches around the world. International community museums present the patterns that are established by the urban marginalised groups to help them deal with the social issues, fight for their social rights, develop living environment, and assert their identities. They are also administrated by the local community from the bottom (grassroots) to the top, prioritising community participation with flexible management approaches. The concept of community museums was introduced in China about ten years ago and has been widely adopted as a new approach to the construction of Urban Historic Conservation Areas. There are also community museums under the administration of sub-district offices with a top-down urban community management system. However, the status of most of these community museums is nearly deserted and neglected.

This thesis concentrates on this little-noticed pattern of community museums in urban China, examining two urban community museums in Beijing, the Zhanlanlu Neighbourhood Museum administrated by the Zhanlanlu Sub-district Office, and the Shijia Hutong Museum joint-operated by the Chaoyangmen Sub-district Office and the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design. Drawing upon the sociomuseology and public participation studies, this research argues that community museums can be constructed as a top-down and two-way participatory platform, providing opportunities for local residents to contribute to dealing with contemporary social issues, meeting their needs, exploring community identity and improving the sense of belonging and community cohesion.



Katherine Bunning; Yunci Cai

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museums Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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