Contemporizing Kensington: Popular culture and the "enchanted palace" exhibit

Julian Hartman, Aitlin Carson, Cele Otnes, Pauline Maclaran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


How can a heritage organization responsible for managing and delivering historic sites draw upon elements of popular culture to create compelling, contemporary experiences for tourists from around the world? In this chapter, we offer a case study of the "Enchanted Palace" exhibit. Designed to enable London’s Kensington Palace to remain open during a multi-million dollar renovation, it eschewed the typical touristic headphone-laden, walk-through experience in favor of one focusing on interactivity and delivering emotional resonance. We leverage primary archival materials, an interview with HRP Chief Executive Michael Day, reviews of the exhibit, and field notes from a visit to the exhibit itself in April, 2011. We demonstrate that while integrating popular culture as a way to inform tourists about history may prove problematic for some visitors, it may also help organizations attract new audiences and achieve long-term goals. We offer a brief history of Kensington Palace and then discuss the conceptualizations, strategies, and tactics that infused "Enchanted.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncounters with Popular Pasts
Subtitle of host publicationCultural Heritage and Popular Culture
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319131832
ISBN (Print)9783319131825
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Enchanted
  • Exhibits
  • Historic royal palaces
  • Kensington palace
  • Museum
  • Royal family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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