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Over the last few years the research team (Sarah, Zel and Lauren, along with Professor Paul Long) have been thinking about the experiences of end-users engaging with do-it-yourself archives, museums and halls of fame of popular music. Tourism isn’t often an explicit aim of community heritage sector organisations, where the core functions tend to be focused on the collection, preservation and archiving of popular music’s past. At the same time, public access is often desired, as expressed in mission statement goals such as ‘to disseminate information’, ‘to display’ and ‘to educate’. Public access, and the ability of these places to offer a high-level tourism experience, is often dependent on the archive or museum’s access to financial and human resources.

Our study draws on Tripadvisor to examine what visitors take away from their experience of DIY institutions of popular music heritage. Tripadvisor is one of the largest online travel platforms in the world and plays an important role in shaping travellers’ decisions and expectations through visitor reviews. Tripadvisor offers a repository of visitor feedback and we’ve been analysing some of the common themes among the reviews for 11 DIY heritage institutions focused on popular music’s past, including the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ramones Museum. Reviewers posted about their satisfaction with the parameters of the collections, the affective experiences on offer, and acknowledgement of the work of the volunteers who manage and run these places. However, reviewer feedback also captured instances where experiences didn’t meet visitor expectations. Issues were raised around location and access to sites, the content of exhibits, and things which restricted the ability to have a good touristic experience. 

Early findings suggest DIY heritage institutions often don’t ‘measure up’ to visitors’ predefined ideas of what popular music heritage sites should offer. Sometimes those predefined ideas were linked to prior visits to, or understandings of what is on offer at, much larger and better funded popular music heritage sites like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, USA) or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Nashville, USA). The research team is now focusing on the question of value – how it is conferred, created and shared.

Heart of Texas Country Music Museum, Brady, USA
KD's Elvis Presley Museum, Hawera, New Zealand
Museum RockArt, Hoek van Holland, Netherlands
Hector Country Music Heritage Museum, Hector, New Zealand
Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth
PopMuseum, Prague, Czech Republic
Ramones Museum, Berlin, Germany
Victorian Jazz Archive, Melbourne
Sarasota Music Archive, USA
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.JP
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Sarah Baker, Zelmarie Cantillon, Lauren Istvandity and Paul Long

This article analyses Tripadvisor user reviews of a selection of DIY institutions of popular music heritage from around the world. The article explores how cultural value is produced and evaluated and how heritage is co-created by institutions, their staff and visitors.

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If you want to learn more about the use of Tripadvisor reviews in research or want to read more about popular music heritage tourism you might be interested in exploring the following resources:



  • Carter, PL 2016, ‘Where are the enslaved?: TripAdvisor and the narrative landscapes of southern plantation museums’, Journal of Heritage Tourism, 11(3), pp. 235–249.

  • Hodsdon,  L 2019, ‘“I expected ... something”: imagination, legend, and history in TripAdvisor reviews of Tintagel Castle’, Journal of Heritage Tourism. doi:10.1080/1743873X.2019.1664558

  • Owens, TJ 2012, ‘Tripadvisor rates Einstein: using the social web to unpack the public meanings of a cultural heritage site’, International Journal of Web Based Communities, 8(1), pp. 40–56.

  • Ramírez-Gutiérrez, D, Fernández-Betancort, H & Santana-Talavera, A 2018, ‘Talking to others: analysing tourists’ communications on cultural heritage experiences’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 24(6), pp. 634–648.

  • Stoleriu, OM, Brochado, A, Rusu, A & Lupu, C 2019, ‘Analyses of visitors’ experiences in a natural World Heritage site based on TripAdvisor reviews’, Visitor Studies, 22(2), pp. 192–212.

Popular music heritage tourism

  • Connell, J & Gibson, C 2005, Music and tourism: On the road again, Channel View Publications, Bristol.

  • Fremaux, S & Fremaux, M 2013, 'Remembering the Beatles' legacy in Hamburg's problematic tourism strategy', Journal of Heritage Tourism, 8(4), pp. 303–319.

  • Leaver, D & Schmidt, RÄ 2010, 'Together through life—an exploration of popular music heritage and the quest for re-enchantment', Creative Industries Journal, 3(2), pp. 107–124.

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This research was informed by work undertaken as part of the Australian Research Council funded grants DP1092910 and DP130100317.

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