Museene danser

Exhibition and dance events, dance cources

Museum: Norwegian centre for traditional music and dance (archive)
Years: Museene danser started in 2015, ends in february 2018. prolonged with a Nordic and Norwegian touring exhibition and concept from 2019-2022

Norwegian centre for traditional music and dance (archive)

Intangible cultural heritage is the core function and objective in the three museum exhibitions of dance as intangible heritage, produced by the project 'Dancing Museums' the previous three years. The domains represented are dance, dance traditions, dance history, dance recordings of old peoples traditional dance knowledge, and dance research. Each exhibition has produced minimum 7 and maximum 20 dance events where practitioners has been invited to be hosts of the exhibition event by dancing and practicing their kinestetic knowledge, and as participants in special curated events.

This project is initiated by 'Norwegian Centre for traditional Music and Dance', a 45 year old Archive of traditional music and dance recordings from all over Norway. The Centre is an NGO of ICH in Norway and is in the forefront of research on ICH and educating local instructors of ICH transmission.

The project 'Dancing Museums' is unique in Norway in its methods of working with involvement from practictioners of dance as ICH in a museum context. Two of three museums in this project did not usually involve practicitioners of an ICH, the third museum used practicitioners only for special events and for demonstration of their knowledge, not transmission to new generations. This is the well-used method in Norway: hiring practictioners for demonstrating instead of practicing their traditions based on the practitioners own will, need and motivation.

This project has shown methods for including the practitioners in transmission of dance knowledge through practice, as experts in chosing the knowledge to be exhibited and through the arranging the dance events and reaching out to the other practitioners and relevant networks.

Museene danser

Description of the project / practice / program

"Interactive dance dissemination / Dancing Museums" is a three-year project, a collaboration between the Norwegian Centre for Traditional Music and Dance (Sff) and The Museums of Sør Trøndelag (MiST). It is funded by Trondheim municipality, Sør Trøndelag County and Art Council of Norway. The project is based on research on different methods for dissemination of dance in 10 European museums. The intangible essence of dance as cultural heritage is present in knowledge about and knowledge in movement traditions (Bakka and Karoblis, 2010). 'Knowledge in' is achieved only through learning the dance tradition; by embodying the dancing in your own body. The project has curated three dance exhibitions and several meeting places. The exhibitions will partly be based on and disseminate gems from the large film archive of traditional dances at Sff and aims to transmit kinesthetic knowledge to new groups of audiences. By placing social dance within a museum context, this exhibition will debate whether dance as cultural heritage and movement can encourage the audience to become co-creators of the dance work when visiting a museum. The museum can by building up strategies as an interlocutor with its communities and local dance groups, serve as a meeting place and dance locale where heritage is transmitted by a well communicated performer-audience interaction.

Museums have potential to involve practitioners of communities outside the museums, in line with the UNESCO 2003 convention of intangible cultural heritage. There is a need to evolve new methods for interaction. Social dance is interactive by nature. The collaboration between Norwegian Centre for Traditional Dance and Music and Museums of Sør Trøndelag explore the interactive possibilities dance brings onto the museum arena by developing three dance exhibitions produced with and by practitioners. The methods are based on transmission methodology developed by the center and adjusted to work in an exhibition setting. Different dance groups were invited to meet and exchange dance with each other and the visitors, to share the various living dance traditions. The exhibition was evaluated by both the museums and the centre. This project shows how the role of museums might change from the traditional focus on collecting, documenting and disseminating immaterial heritage as a static historic phenomenon to leading the process of involving the experts of the living intangible cultural heritage, presenting the museums as meeting places among the practitioners and the visitors.

How were practitioners of intangible cultural heritage involved?

We have achieved to involve practicitioners in several ways

They have promoted their practice, held courses, used the museum arena and dance exhibition arena as a place to practice their ICH knowledge. Most important we have given them an arena to arrange traditional dance parties the way the practictioners need and have done for decades to transmit their knowledge informally by dancing together. We have included both Norwegian traditional dance genres, new immigrated dance traditions from other countries, dance traditions in the Sami culture and popular dance waves that the older generation of today remembers from their youth and that are about to exit the informal dance spaces. Through involving practitioners in both events and in producing interactive installations they are in control of the exhibited knowledge and the museum employees only operates as facilitators and curators, without the expert role as they usually have.

As we created the program we consulted with practitioners of different practices: what did they need, how would they like to contribute? We got tips on how to arrange and meet the non-dancing audience.

Tone Erlien as the project manager and curator, educated in the UNESCO 2003 Convention on intangible heritage, and as a dance scientist, had a role of facilitating and leading the process on collecting material and practitioners for the work of curating the content.

CV of the author

Tone Erlien graduated from the Erasmus Mundus program "Choreomundus - International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage" in June 2014. She has in addition a bachelor degree and master degree from NTNU, Norway. The topic of her Choreomundus master thesis is "A dance museum - Museums and institutions in Europe promoting dance and intangible cultural heritage". She works as a project manager for a 3-year project called "Interactive dance dissemination in museums", a collaboration between the Norwegian center for traditional music and dance and "MiST- The Museum of Sør Trøndelag", Norway, that has produced 3 temporary interactive dance exhibitions in Trondheim, Norway. She currently works on her doctoral thesis analyzing the three dance exhibitions.


  • Reflect on the reason for having practitioners of intangible cultural heritage in your museum: is it because you want them to demonstrate a practice, or is their presence a result of their own will, need and motivation?
  • Make sure to be surrounded by the correct network of people. 
  • Museums can act as meeting places for practitioners of intangible heritage, and as places to practice their knowledge and share it with others
  • Museums can facilitate and curate, without playing the role of the expert




22 March 2018 from 15:05 to 15:05



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