Iron Bridge Gorge Museum and Black Country Living History Museum

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It is generally assumed that within the museum space, one can gain a greater appreciation for what life must have truly been like during various periods of British history and thus present viewers with a conception of the essence of Englishness. In the museum’s attempt to compete with the advent of numerous more active and changing tourism sites, the concept of static history is no longer sufficient to maintain sufficient operating funds. As a result, many museums are changing their formats to include the use of more multi-media presentations and entertainments, seemingly attempting to challenge, in at least some small part, the larger amusement parks and presenting idyllic views of the past that are drifting ever further away from the truth. In preserving the history of the Industrial Age, an important era in the development of the nation, museums such as the Ironbridge Gorge Museum and the Black Country Living History Museum have effectively removed the horrors of this time period, offering instead a false nostalgia for the ways of the past.The wish to spend one’s precious spare time on a slag heap or in a dark, dangerous, and damp coal mine, as might seem necessary to gain an appreciation for the lifestyles of those who survived the Industrial Revolution, seems paradoxical. For most, the jump between actually scrambling around coal mines and visiting the museums dedicated to the Industrial age might seem like one and the same thing. This is all the more true since the English have developed a sustained ideal of a green and beautiful rural England in their collective idea of Englishness, and urban and industrial areas are thus stigmatized as un-English. According to Raymond Williams (1973), the modern-day Englishman has a need for nostalgia as a means of responding to the ever-changing world of the modern-day. Because the modern is already filled with the concept of the urban landscape, nostalgia almost by default is associated with the country.