From Keeper to Maker: British curatorial practices

Laia Anguix, Northumbria University
Elisabetta Fabrizi, Newcastle University
Massimiliano Papini, Northumbria University

Scholarly research is giving growing importance to curatorial practices. Publications such as the Museum History Journal  (8:1, 2015) have discussed how, since the mid-to-late 19th century, curators worldwide have adapted from the scholarly and administrative art expert archetype (George 2015) to one that ‘possesses an authorial/artistic function’ (O’Neill 2012), in which the ‘making’ takes centre stage (Acord 2010). Have British curators followed the same evolution or are there distinctive characteristics that set British curators apart from their colleagues abroad? This panel aims to cover a gap in curatorial research by discussing the history of curators in Britain, reflecting on how they have engaged with their economic, political and professional contexts since Victorian times (Black 2000). It will propose an analysis of the relationship between private collectors and public collections; the distinctiveness of British curatorial practices; the role of curators in relation to artists, institutions, colleagues, critics, connoisseurs, and public and private powers; the impact of curation on the art market and art education; its role in the expansion of media used in exhibition-making; class and gender inclusion in the profession; and the potential professional challenges of a post-Brexit scenario. After the presentations, a final discussion will involve all the speakers, aiming to put together and compare topics from the different papers.


From Collector to Curator: Robert Murdoch Smith and the shaping of Persian art collections in England and Scotland, 1873–1900
Friederike Voigt (National Museums Scotland)

Moving Image, Contemporary Art Curators and the Production of Culture in the UK
Elisabetta Fabrizi (Newcastle University)

‘Maker of Exhibitions’: The curatorial practice of Cordelia Oliver
Susannah Thompson (The Glasgow School of Art)

Curating Life: The mediation of social practice in the UK
Kirsten Lloyd (The University of Edinburgh)

The Hatton Gallery will be the Scene of an Experiment
Melanie Stephenson (Newcastle University)





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