School of the Arts, English and Drama

Staff research

Museums, Markets, and Critical Heritage

This multi-disciplinary research group explores cutting-edge practices in, and debates about, collecting, marketing, and exhibiting works of art and cultural property. Providing a forum for the exchange of ideas between academics, artists, curators, collectors, and dealers, the group engages critically with the histories and futures of cultural heritage from a range of trans-national perspectives.

The Museums, Markets, and Critical Heritage Research Group is a forum for the exchange of ideas about art markets, exhibition histories, museums, and public and private collecting practices. Its research and events are open to individuals from all disciplinary backgrounds, and we aim to bring together scholars whose interests span diverse geographies and time periods.

The group seeks to build research collaborations within and beyond Loughborough University, to share knowledge, and to develop policies that impact on the cultural landscape. We aim to promote innovative thinking about the future of public and private collecting, access to the art market, the stewardship of cultural property, and the relationship between museums and their stakeholders. To that end, we welcome contributions to, and participation in, our visiting speaker programme and symposia by museum professionals and scholars with interests in trends that shape markets, exhibition practices, and public heritage policies.

Our symposium for the 2017/18 academic year is titled ‘Art Markets and the Future of Museum Collecting’ and will take place on Friday 15 June 2018 at Loughborough University. The call for papers can be found below:

Art Markets and the Future of Museum Collecting

A one-day symposium at Loughborough University

15 June, 2018

This symposium investigates the impact of art markets on museum collecting and contemporary curatorial practices. As sponsorship deals and commercial interests increasingly shape the global footprint of museum ‘brands’ and determine the budget for exhibitions, new questions arise as to the social responsibilities of public art institutions, their independence, and the evolving narratives proposed by their collections.

In the wake of cuts to state funding for the arts, have public museums become reliant on the financial support and, hence, personal tastes of private donors? To what extent do exhibition practices track the market activities of auction houses and private galleries and with what impact on institutional diversity and the career prospects of individual artists? Are privately owned spaces and commercial venues supplanting state-funded museums? Has increasing public interest in the spectacle of the art market altered expectations about the kinds of experience that should be promoted by museums?

Proposals for 20 minute papers are welcome that debate intersections between local or global art market forces and museum collecting in the twenty-first century. We welcome proposals that address cases from around the world.

Please send proposals (250 words max and a short biography) to Kathryn Brown by no later than 28 February, 2018.

Amy Jane Barnes

Christina Brandberg

Kathryn Brown

Jennifer Hankin

Marina Maximova

Craig Richardson

Franziska Wilmsen

Alison Yarrington

We welcome interest from potential academic partners and practitioners and from prospective postgraduates. Please contact: Kathryn Brown

Visiting speaker: Zachary Kingdon, Curator, Africa Collections, World Museum, Liverpool: ‘Collecting and Cultural Collaboration: Investigating West Africans’ Gifts to UK Museums in the Early Colonial Period’.

Wednesday 22 November 2017, 14.00–16.00. Martin Hall, MH1.17a/b

Lecture followed by discussion and refreshments

In this lecture Zachary Kingdon will discuss his research on the World Museum Liverpool’s remarkable West African collection from the early colonial period. Between 1897 and 1916 at least one hundred West Africans donated at least 775 artefacts to the World Museum Liverpool through Arnold Ridyard, a Methodist Chief Engineer on the steamships of Elder Dempster & Company that plied the trade route down the western coast of Africa. The lecture will focus in detail on the biography and collaborative cultural interests of one of these West African donors from the Gold Coast (present day Ghana), John Mensah Sarbah. This case study will demonstrate how Sarbah’s donations reflected his social networks and were implicated in his efforts to construct alternative narratives about African histories and cultures that contributed to a new perspective on West Africans that was intended to contest the authority of a pejorative European one. The case study will be used to help frame a critique of the way that museums habitually used African cultural objects as instruments of invented knowledge about African peoples in a way that denied them full humanity as complex historical subjects in their own right.

>>This event is free and open to all. Please register your interest through eventbrite

Guest speaker : Dr Amy Jane Barnes, School of the Arts, English and Drama, "‘Do the Chinese always smile?’ Exhibiting the Cultural Revolution in Britain"

Wednesday 14 February 2018,  14.30–16.30. Martin Hall, MH1.17a/b

In this lecture, Amy Jane Barnes will discuss a key exhibition of Cultural Revolution-era visual culture in Britain and its reception. The Arts Council of Great Britain’s exhibition Peasant Paintings from Hu County, Shensi Province, China, which toured Britain between 1976 and 1977, was one of the first and certainly largest exhibition to present revolutionary art from the People’s Republic of China to UK audiences.

The Arts Council exhibition represents an unusual and significant joint venture between two nations separated not only by geography, but by what had appeared at points to be an insurmountable ideological barrier.

This lecture will offer a means by which to think around how museums, exhibitions and other cultural institutions, mediate and communicate cultures and histories across national and ideological borders.

Dr Barnes is the author of Museum Representations of Maoist China (Ashgate, 2014). 

>>This event is free and open to all. Please register your interest through eventbrite



September  2017 Call for Papers: ‘From Bluestockings to the Guerrilla Girls – And Beyond: Mapping Female Associational Life in the Visual Arts’, Christie’s New York, 26–7 June, 2018 Event URL || Christies call for papers

September 2017 Call for Book Proposals: Contextualizing Art Markets (Bloomsbury Academic) || Bloomsbury call for book proposals

November 2017 Kathryn Brown is presenting a paper on ‘The Privatization of Public Museum Culture and the Future of Art History’ at a conference The Global Power of Private Museums: Arts and Publics – States and Markets, Berlin, 16-18 November 2017