12 Dec 2014 - 13 Dec 2014 All day CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT - SG1&2


Register online via the link at the top right hand side of this page
Conference fee: £50 (full), £25 (students) – includes lunch, tea/coffee
Deadline: Monday 8 December 2014

Twitter Hashtag: #ArtSciCuration


Liz Hide (University of Cambridge Museums)
Tim Knox (Fitzwilliam Museum)
Robin Osborne (Museum of Classical Archaeology)
Liba Taub (Whipple Museum)
Caroline Vout (Classics)


This conference is the culmination of a series of events during 2014 in which the University of Cambridge Museums have explored the art and science of museum curation. It brings together a wide range of speakers to take a long hard look at what museums do, what they should do, and what they might do. We will explore the ways in which what museums do is enabled and limited by their history and the history of collecting, asking whether and how museums can use their collections to transcend time. We will explore the constraints placed on museums by national history and how they contest natural history. We will think about museums as installations and museums as laboratories. And we will ask how healthy is the pressure to make visitors love their experiences in museums. Have museums failed or succeeded if some people hate them?

This is a conference designed both to celebrate and to question what we do in museums and what museums do to us, and to ask what the future should hold for the museum and what the museum should hold for the future.

Confirmed speakers include: Sam Alberti (Royal College of Surgeons of. England/ Hunterian Museum), Maurice Davis (Former Head of Policy at the Museums Association), Paul Greenhalgh (Sainsbury Centre, UEA), Henry McGhie (Manchester Museum), Paul Smith (Oxford University Museum of Natural History), Martin Roth (V & A), and Mark Wallinger.

In preparation for this conference there will be a series of seminars organised by University of Cambridge Museums on Wednesdays at 5.15 p.m. in Room G 21, Faculty of Classics, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge on November 12, 19, 26th and December 3rd; speakers include Penelope Curtis (Tate Britain), Richard Evans (Beamish Museum), Stephen Feeke (New Art Centre), Jane Munro (Fitzwilliam Museum) and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (Herculaneum Conservation Project). All are welcome.



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), the University of Cambridge Museums and the Arts Council England.

Accommodation for speakers selected through the call for papers and non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange or book accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

Administrative assistance: events@crassh.cam.ac.uk


DAY 1 - Friday 12 December

Registration and Coffee



Robin Osborne and Liz Hide: Welcome and aims of this event


SESSION 1: Subversive traditions? Does the current enthusiasm for the history of collecting and of the museum silence objects, or make them speak? 

  • Tim Knox (Fitzwilliam Museum)
  • Alexander Sturgis (Ashmolean Museum)

Chair: Caroline Vout




SESSION 2: Should museum displays rejoice in being of their time, or aim to transcend time?

  • Minna Moore Ede (National Gallery)
  • Paul Greenhalgh (Sainsbury Centre)

 Chair: Tim Knox


Tea break


SESSION 3: Does the museum have a natural history? a national history? 

  • Paul Smith (Oxford University Museum of Natural History)
  • Martin Roth (V&A)

Chair: Liz Hide


Drinks reception at the Museum of Classical Archaeology

DAY 2 - Saturday 13 December



SESSION 4: Is the curator a scientist or an artist? 

  • Sam Alberti (Royal College of Surgeons of. England/ Hunterian Museum)
  • Mark Wallinger 

Chair: Liba Taub




SESSION 5: Is curation about the objects or the audience?

  • Maurice Davies (The Museum Consultancy / King’s College London)

Chair: Robin Osborne


Tea break


PLENARY SESSION: panel-led discussion 

Chair: Carrie Vout 

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk