Founded in 2020, the Folklore Museums Network works collaboratively with its members to identify, display and disseminate knowledge about the material folklore collections held in museums across the UK. Importantly, this material culture is inextricably linked to 'intangible culture', that stuff which is in our heads, our songs, stories, beliefs, rituals and creative practices. Our goal, put simply, is to assist the sector to meaningfully fulfil the International Council of Museum’s definition of a museum, i.e., “a permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage.”
How these tangible and intangible facets of culture fit together is both a problem and opportunity for museums, and folklore collections present a great opportunity for the sector to develop and break new ground. Folklore in museum collections presents in many difference ways: from hair garlands, Rapper swords, talismans, manuscripts of local lore and traditions, folklife paraphernalia, social historical collections, to 'curiosities' and 'concealed' objects. In the absence of an exhaustive list (although the FMN is working towards this!), what unites all these items is human expression, tradition and their dynamic histories of created and re-created meaning.
Folklore collections tread a perilous path between 'fact' and 'fiction', 'history' and 'legend'; folklore is often wrongly perceived as irrelevant or backward looking, and as a result these collections might be disregarded, misunderstood, and misidentified.
The Folklore Museums Network - a Subject Specialist Network - hopes to start fruitful dialogues within the museum sector about folklore collections - and virtually all museums have them! But we don't just want to talk to ourselves. Folklore is for everyone, and so is this network. It is free to join and will be led by the interests of our members and the material in museum collections.
Join our network today to help shine a light on this amazing culture in our museums!