Saturday, June 29, 2013

Yet another countertourism tactic - 2

I had ordered the countertourism book but it had not arrived yet. But I had seen all the countertourism videos and I was very much motivated to apply the tactics to my own heritage visits. Unexpectedly one of our walks through the Green heart of Holland ended at the Muiderslot, one of the most touristic castles in the Netherlands. An ideal site to try to replicate some countertourism tactics. Below are the results.

1 - Do not approach the heritage site by the main entrance. Take a long detour. Take the most inaccessible route. Pretend you are an army coming to conquer the heritage site. Plan your siege. 

2 - Don't be satisfied with the heritage materials that are presented to you. Try to do your own archaeology. See if you can find some ancient remains. Dig your own trench. Collect some remains, however insignificant. Do your own research. (I still have the archeological find somewhere, old brickwork and ceramics.)
... sculpture from before the iconoclasm, the period when mobs destroyed many images in the city's Catholic churches. Never before has there been a display of so many sculptures that escaped the waves of destruction unleashed between 1566 and 1580. [Catharijneconvent brochure - found "in situ"]

3 - Study the modern artifacts with the same attention you give to the ancient artifacts. In 10 years these will look different and you will have forgotten how they looked. Do you still remember the bakelite telephones? And later the curly extension cords? Aren't you sorry you have forgotten how they looked?
What happens when you put two objects from the museum next to each other. What kind of a story do they tell together? What do they say about the world of then and now, about image forming and contacts between different cultures? [Tropenmuseum brochure]

4 - Study the different signs with regulations. Try to find the oldest ones. Compare. Notice how modern times are more restrictive. Is it because we have become less tolerant of bad behaviour? Or were we better behaved in earlier times? (Many years ago a tiny "non-smoking" sign was sufficient.)
In order to establish the new Soviet state in the largely illiterate country of Russia, it was important to convince people that it was better to join this new order. ... The communist party established a separate department to win the hearts and minds for their ideology, the department for agitation and propaganda. [VanAbbeMuseum brochure]

5 - Try to find alien (UFO) artifacts. (I still don't know what this was. I suspect it was a kind of computer game. But it didn't work, I think.)

6 - Use leaks in the heritage site to wash the mud from your walking shoes. (My wife did this spontaneously. I had not told her about countertourism yet.)

7 - Try to correlate the old heritage signs with modern infrastructure. (In this case: privy = toilet.)

Don't imagine that the building is just an accumulation of bare corridors. Far from it. There are landscapes to be found in the building, inns, waiting rooms, barracks, studies - and yes, cities and mountains. / An optical illusion. / Actually you really are in a building with bare corridors. But you don't notice it, and that's what makes it so beautiful. [Armando quote in Museum Oud Amelisweerd brochure]

8 - View and analyse the non-heritage objects with the same attention you give to the heritage objects. Imagine you're looking at conceptual art. Is it any good? (Actually this is quite an interesting object.)
 Otherworldly highlights the revival of interest among artists for miniature structures and the production of artificial environments such as small-scale, handmade alternate realities in the form of dioramas, models and specific on--site installations. [MUba brochure]

9 - Try to be an anthropologist. Study the population of the gift-shop as if it were an Amazonian tribe. What do the adults look at? The children? The foreigners? The locals? What do they really buy?
10 - Study the objects in the gift-shop as if they were object in the museum. What do they say about current culture? About our relationship with history? (Especially: what's depicted on the fridge magnets?)
I hope to God you will not ask me to go to any other country except my own. - Barboncito, Navajo chief, May 1868 [Nieuwe Kerk brochure]

11 - Collect brochures for other heritage sites museums and art events. Read the texts. Try to correlate them with the current heritage site. See if it gives new insights. (Examples below and interspersed with the text above.)

Does a person's location determine their identity? Imagined Places is not about the significance of physical place, it is about our sense of connection to places elsewhere. [Tropenmuseum brochure]


  1. Hi Dirk,

    Hoe kom ik in contact met jou? Heb je een e-mail adres?



  2. Hi Theo, I am not Dirk. Do you mean this Dirk?
    I like his work, but I'm not him.