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Assessing authenticity of nineteenth‐century shopping passages

Bie Plevoets (PHL University College & Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
Koenraad Van Cleempoel (PHL University College & Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 28 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore the conservation and contemporary management of three nineteenth‐century shopping passages: the Galleries Saint‐Hubert in Brussels, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and the Passage in The Hague. The submission of the Galleries Saint‐Hubert to the World Heritage Tentative List in 2008, presents a unique opportunity for studying this typology in its contemporary environment.


The authors’ research questions are: what are the characteristics of passages? what are their authentic values? and how can the authenticity of these buildings be conserved by their contemporary management? The applied methodology is a cross‐case‐comparison, based on the definition of authenticity as presented in the Nara Document on Authenticity. The analysis is presented in the form of a matrix.


The findings show that the significant value of passages does not only include the architecture of the building but also the versatility of its program and its present urban role. It is only by conserving this combination that these buildings can be conserved in their full richness of authenticity.

Practical implications

Criteria for transnational inclusion in the World Heritage List of several nineteenth‐century passages are suggested as the matrix used for cross‐case‐comparison may be applied to analyse other case studies of passages, as well as for other types of heritage where authenticity of the site is threatened by uncontrolled retail development.


Although passages have been studied extensively within the field of architectural history, retail history and socio‐cultural studies, hardly any previous research had focused on the preservation and contemporary management of this building type.



Plevoets, B. and Van Cleempoel, K. (2011), "Assessing authenticity of nineteenth‐century shopping passages", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 135-156.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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