Nadzeya Charapan: Imagining Nations in Ethnographic Open-air Museums

Imagining Nations in Ethnographic Open-air Museums: A Comparative Analysis of Belarusian, Lithuanian and Swedish cases

Open-air museums are institutionalised spaces where the past is being used through collections and objects to display, communicate, and negotiate ideas of values, of belonging, and most of all of the identity. They collect, interpret and present monuments of vernacular architecture and folk lifestyle. The milieu of interpretative media and educational programs, as well as the physical setting of the site (combination of cultural heritage and landscape), and diversity of ethnographic collections (portraying several regions with different cultural traditions in one place) determined the choice of the research object – national ethnographic open-air museums. Museum display offeres the visitors a unique augumented exprerience to stroll through the miniature of the whole country in couple of hours. The research is focused on different ways of visitors’ engagement with and within the space of the open-air museums in Belarus, Lithuania and Sweden from the comparative perspective. The research will highlight the differences in the ways that visitors express both personal and collective ideas of identity within the particular context of the open-air museums (cases of Belarus, Lithuania and Sweden). In this study, open-air museums are examined as nation-making institutions to better understand how museums attempt to communicate ethnic diversity in unity.


Nadzeya Charapan is a lecturer at European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and Vilnius University, a doctoral student at Vilnius University (Vilnius Lithuania), as well as a guest researcher at Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden) and Tartu University (Tartu, Estonia). Her doctoral thesis focusses on meaning-making and mediation in ethnographic open-air museums in Sweden, Belarus, and Lithuania. Her research interests include cultural memory, museum studies, and communication.  She teaches courses in cultural memory communication, cultural tourism, and nationalism.

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