Monthly Archives: October 2011

Collecting contemporary design

With a century worth of objects to choose from and new work emerging all the time, what are the factors influencing the shape and future role of contemporary design collections? How do the expectations of the collector and the aspiration of being collected impact on the output and role of the designer?

In this one-day conference in partnership with Kingston University, the Design Museum hosts a number of presentations and discussions identifying current and future issues facing collections and collectors of design and crafts. List of speakers to be announced soon.

Tuesday 6 December, 10am – 4.30pm

Design Museum, London

Tickets: £50/£25 Members

Book your place


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Filed under Conferences, CPD opportunity

Accessing international arts and humanities funding

This event is aimed at arts and humanities scholars and will enable you to find out more about funding opportunities and mechanisms of support.

The main focus of the event will be on European Funding and in particular you will be able to find out about:

• AHRC international funding opportunities
• The European socio-economic and humanities (SSH) research programme
• European Research Council

The event will give you an overview of these opportunities, who they are aimed at and the funding available.

Speakers will include AHRC, UKRO (UK Research Office based in Brussels), and the National Contact Point (NCP) for the SSH Programmes.

Date: 29th November, 10am – 1.30pm
Location: London – venue TBC

To register for this event please send your details to by 11th November.

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Join the Cook`s tour

Take a tour of unique objects, archives and illustrative materials in the Wellcome Collection, and explore the role of food, remedies and global interchange in our medical and cultural lives from the 17th century onwards. This event will investigate the tensions underlying the contents of the kitchen cabinet, and place 21st-century debates around localism and healthy eating in a historical perspective. The tour of Wellcome Collection’s permanent galleries will be followed by an illustrated talk in the Wellcome Library. Part of the Recipes and Remedies event series.


  • Richard Aspin, Head of Research and Scholarship, Wellcome Library
  • Valerie Brown, Visitor Services Assistant, Wellcome Collection
  • Helen Wakely, Archivist, Wellcome Library

This is a free event, but a ticket is required. Booking opens at 2pm on 27th October.

3rd November, 6.00-7.30pm

Wellcome Collection, London

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Filed under Events, Talk/Lecture

Call for Papers: Consuming the Country House

The University of Northampton and English Heritage are currently circulating a Call for Papers for their upcoming conferece, Consuming the Country House: From Acquisiton to Presentation (18-19 April 2012). The aim of the conference is to “bridge the persistent divide between historians’  interpretations of elite consumption and the material culture of the country house, and attempts by owners, managers and curators to interpret and present the country house to visitors.”

Papers discussing any aspect of consumption, material culture and the country house, both in the past and the present are invited. Papers focusing on the following themes would be especially welcome:

  • Supplying the country house: food and drink, furniture, local and imported goods, etc.
  • The country house as lived/living space – room use (then) and using rooms (now); the (different?) role of men and women; the relationships between and spaces of masters and servants
  • Collecting or consuming – motivations to consume; the economics of acquisition; European and oriental influences
  • Old and new – the role of fashion; buying second-hand; the emerging taste for antiques; the country house as palimpsest; rearranging the furniture (by owners and for presentation)
  • Material culture and the country house interior – aesthetics of interior design; the meaning of goods and their arrangement (past and present)
  • Continuities and contrasts: comparisons between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; of London and provinces; across Europe
  • The impact of the country house visitor in the past and present: changing attitudes; national differences; broadening markets and access to houses
  • Interpreting and presenting the country house: using new technologies and approaches (e.g. live interpretation); different approaches across space and time

The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2011. Contact details can be found in the full Consuming the Country House CfP.

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Filed under Call for Papers, CPD opportunity, Knowledge Exchange

Italian historic house museums in Sao Paolo

Received this today, which has to be one of the most exotic private view invites I’ve ever been sent. I briefly day-dreamed about heading to Brazil to catch this photographic exhibition, then I thought I would spread the word in the hope that somebody who is geographically closer will actually be able to go. This is a photo exhibition of 13 different historic house museums in Italy, curated by SSN member Dr Rosana Pavoni, a Museum and heritage consultant, former President of DEMHIST and an expert on the history and development of the historic house in Italy. The exhibition presents the full range of house museums including the personality house, the collector`s house, high-end properties of the aristocracy and modest peasant dwellings and will give an insight into different aspects of Italian culture from art to gastronomy.

Further information about the exhibition is available on the Museu da Casa Brasileira website (in Portuguese only).

Exhibition: Historic House Museums in Italy

Museu da Casa Brasileira, São Paolo, Brazil

27 October – 20 November 2011

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Innovative Historic House Interpretation

In early October I attended the Museums Association 2011 Conference and Exhibition in Brighton, where one of the main themes was making the most of professional networks and working in partnership.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the Innovative Historic House Interpretation session (Tuesday 4th October). Ruth Gill, Head of Interpretation at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), outlined the HRP audience segmentation model, which now informs all their interpretation projects. So the Enchanted Palace experience at Kensington Palace was aimed at the ‘Cool Rejector’ segment, who are apparently “too cool” to visit, while the current work on the Georgian Kitchens at Kew Palace (due to open in Spring 2012) targets the keen ‘Time Travellers’.

Keith Robinson, Learning and Visitor Experience Consultant at the National Trust talked about how National Trust properties have been working on transforming the visitor experience by drawing out interesting personal stories, asking sometimes difficult questions and allowing visitors to touch objects (you can try your hand at the piano or play snooker in 1930s Upton House for instance).

Finally, Janita Bagshawe, Head of Royal Pavilion, Brighton, made the case for injecting a bit of controversy back into historic buildings like the Royal Pavilion. Last year artist Clare Twomey planted 3,000 black ceramic butterflies in the Royal Pavilion’s Banqueting Room, Great Kitchen and other rooms as part of a contemporary craft installation supported by the Museumaker programme. Visitors seemed to either love it or hate it – have a look at the photos and see what you think.

I share my notes from the session (which hopefully make some sense!) in the hope that you will find some inspiration in these examples. Innovative Historic House Interpretation

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Down the Back of the Sofa

Derby Museum and Art Gallery has produced a 13-minute film of its recent Effective Collections-funded project Down the Back of the Sofa, which offers an insight into visitors’ reactions to the interactive exhibition. Down the Back of the Sofa was put together by the museum in partnership with the production company Charity Shop DJ for the Vintage at Southbank Centre festival in London’s Royal Festival Hall at the end of the July.

Around 9,000 people visited the exhibition, which saw the museum use mainly mid to late 20th century artefacts from its stored collection to recreate a vintage lounge and DJ space. The Museums Association (MA) helped facilitate the project with a £19,000 Effective Collections grant. The aim of the exhibition was to encourage interaction between people and artefacts in an informal environment.

Further information, including the evaluation of the project, is available here.

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Filed under Collaborative work, Exhibitions