Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Krugler, John D.

Second Advisor

Stevens, Michael

Third Advisor

Hay, Robert P.


The automobile, Coca-Cola and the outdoor history museum are three seemingly unrelated entities with at least one striking similarity: the history of each is traceable to the late nineteenth century, yet it was not until the twentieth century that all three evolved into cultural phenomena, especially in the United States. The popularity of these became such that each attained a level of public acceptance. While familiarization with and everyday usage of the mere words "car" and "Coke" unquestionably rank ahead of the term "outdoor history museum," the outdoor history museum as an American institution is well established. To appreciate its success, it is necessary to consider the larger context of museum popularization. According to one of the most recent surveys the American Association of Museums (AAM) conducted, 565,843,039 people visited over 8,000 museums throughout the United States in 1988. A more interpretive statistic reveals that in 1978, museums tallied approximately 360 million visitors--a figure six times greater than the number of people attending all professional baseball, football and basketball games in the United States that year. This data regarding roughly the past two decades reflects the continuation of an earlier boom period in museum appeal. For example, from 1956 to 1966, paid attendance increased from 5 to 15 percent per year...



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