No two houses of the holy

Creating cultural heritage in 'Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses'


  • Kathleen Pirrie Adams Ryerson University Author



Experience Music Project, media, museums, Nirvana, popular music


Using the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition as a case study, this article offers one possible answer to the question: what is needed for popular music to become cultural heritage? It looks at how the exhibition’s use of material culture and its relation to intangible culture provide opportunities for audience engagement and establish the exhibition as a site for the production of cultural heritage. Drawing upon work done in both heritage and popular music studies, I argue that the exhibition thesis, its design and the integration of participatory opportunities create a congregant space, one in which heritage’s characteristic operation of establishing a relationship between present and past in order to facilitate inheritance is realized in a manner that offers a dynamic and variable image of membership.

Author Biography

  • Kathleen Pirrie Adams, Ryerson University

    Kathleen Pirrie Adams is a curator whose practice focuses on the exhibition of popular music culture and popular music’s influence on contemporary art. She was the program director of InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre in Toronto and currently teaches at Ryerson University in the RTA School of Media. Kathleen’s PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester focused on the purpose-built popular music museum.


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How to Cite

Pirrie Adams, K. (2017). No two houses of the holy: Creating cultural heritage in ’Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses’. Popular Music History, 10(2), 113-137.