Towards and understanding of visitor perceptions of 'dark' sites: the case of the Imperial War Museum of the North, Manchester

J. John Lennon, A. Craig Wight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Governments and other authoritative stakeholders are faced with dilemmas regarding the representation of sites associated with death and disaster in the context of tourism visits. Not least of these are the owners and managers of museums in the UK which are concerned with the commemoration of war-related events. This paper contributes towards an understanding of how visitors perceive interpretation employed by museums using modern and traditional exhibition techniques. The hypothesis that visitor perceptions of ‘dark’ issues in museum can be influenced using commentary and ‘live interpretation’ will be tentatively confirmed. The ‘sanitised’ war museum paradigm will be contrasted with modern and thought provoking exhibitive techniques used within the Imperial War Museum of the North, Manchester. The paper will introduce the phenomenon of ‘dark’ tourism and confirm a documented level of interest in this area. It will review interpretations of ‘dark’ sites and particularly, interpretation provided by the Imperial War Museum of the North, Manchester, UK. Research based on visitors to this museum in 2004 is cited in order to identify critical success factors in interpretation used by this Museum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-122
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004



  • dark tourism
  • war-related events
  • exhibitive techniques
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Manchester

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