Category Archives: Knowledge Exchange

Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits, seminar, 28 June 2017


Portrait of Bell and Dorothy Freeman by Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914). Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.


This seminar for scholars and museum professionals seeks to explore some key themes around the nature of domestic interiors as found in British portraits from the early modern period to the present day. How can we start to interpret the pictorial world in which portrait sitters are placed? Are such spaces representations of contemporary interiors, or are they fictional spheres which – like pose, costume, and props – serve to convey coded messages about the sitters? By exploring portraits in various media throughout this period, speakers will consider these questions, helping interiors and portrait researchers to understand these mediated artistic constructs and interpret the contemporary symbolism within.

This event is a collaboration between the Histories of Home and the Understanding British Portraits Subject Specialist Networks. It is aimed at researchers, academics, and museum professionals engaged with portraiture, or historical and modern interiors. Papers will include scholarly case studies as well as contributions from museum professionals using portraits as a research tool, and engaging audiences in design history through the use of historic portraits.

The event will take place at the Geffrye Museum of the Home.

PDF: Decoding the Domestic Interior in British Portraits 28 June ’17 – programme

PDF download: Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits 28 June ’17 – booking form


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Call for Papers: Furniture History Society Research Seminar

Friday 23 November 2012

The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1U 3BN

The concept of this event is to present current studies on topics of furniture history, furniture construction/design/conservation and the history of interiors by MA and PhD students, and museum/heritage curators and professionals at an early stage of their career.  It is envisaged that the seminar will provide useful insights into current trends of research. The seminar will be open for attendance by ticket to Furniture History Society (FHS) members and others involved in education and study of furniture and interiors. Each paper should last 15 minutes with a powerpoint presentation in fluent English.

Interested speakers should submit an abstract of 250 words outlining their area of study, research methodologies and sources along with a current CV and details of one referee to Clarissa Ward, FHS Grants Secretary, email, by 16th April  2012. Some grants for travel expenses from distant locations may be available – if required please give details when submitting abstract.

This event is being organised by the Tom Ingram Fund (FHS Grants) Committee, who will format the programme and confirm details to speakers by 12th May 2012.

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Consuming the country house Conference

Consuming the country house: from acquisition to presentation

University of Northampton

18-19 April 2012

The country house can be seen as a palimpsest: generations of owners adding their own material objects and layers of meaning. This presents challenges to both historians and curators – how to understand the relationship between new and old goods; how to assess the meaning of goods in different contexts, and how to present a coherent narrative of the house and its contents to the visitor today. Linked to this is the need to see the country house as dynamic: a lived and living space which was consciously transformed according to fashion or personal taste, but which was also changed by accident, decay and dispersal. Moreover, the country house was a nexus of flows as goods were brought in from the estate, the surrounding area and more distant centres – most notably London. How do these links shape our understanding and interpretation of the country house? In paying more attention to the processes of consumption, attention is focused on social and economic aspects of the country house – a broadening of perspective which can offer a more rounded view of the elite. The country house is often seen as a symbol of wealth and power, but the economics of running such properties (in the present as well as the past) and the experience of everyday life (of owners as well as servants) deserve more attention.

This conference addresses such questions, drawing on comparisons across European countries to throw new light on our understanding of consumption and the country house. More broadly, it seeks 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.

Speakers include:

  • Helen Clifford, University of Warwick
  • Jane Whittle, University of Exeter
  • Yme Kuiper, University of Groningen
  • James Lomax, Leeds Museums and Galleries
  • Ruth Gill, Historic Royal Palaces
  • Johanna Ilmakunnas, University of Helsinki

The full programme for both days can be found here: Consuming the Country House Programme

Booking information

Fees for both days are £50/£25 (for postgraduate students); for a single day £30/£15 (for postgraduate students) – these include lunch and refreshments.

A conference dinner can also be booked in advance for £25.

Please return completed booking forms – Consuming the Country House booking form – by 5th April 2012 to Karin Ferngren at or University of Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL (please mark the envelope ‘Visiting Rites’)

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Research Register on home

The Centre for Studies of Home is developing an online research register to provide a useful resource for people engaged in work relating to home.

If you would like to be included in the register, please send your name, institutional affiliation/job title (where applicable), contact details and 100 words about your research interests, together with 6 keywords, to by the end of January 2012..

The Centre is a partnership between the Geffrye Museum of the Home and Queen Mary, University of London.

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Call for Papers: Bedtime Stories – Beds and Bedding in Britain, 1650-1850

This conference is being held as part of a year long celebratory exhibition of beds at bedrooms at Temple Newsam House, following the restoration of the Queen Anne State Bed from Hinton House. The conference brings together both museum professionals and scholars to share insights on historic beds and bedrooms in order to further understanding and inform the interpretation of beds and bedroom interiors.

Leeds Museums and Galleries and the Museum Studies Department of the University of Leeds are issuing a call for papers exploring these areas within a broad date range of 1650 -1850. Topics to consider are:

  • Conservation or restoration projects related to beds and bedroom interiors
  • Material culture of the bedroom; waking up, going to sleep, making and cleaning beds and other rituals and practices associated with the bedroom
  • Interpretation of beds and bedrooms to different audiences within museums and other heritage settings
  • Upholstery and textiles of the bedroom
  • Types of beds, nomenclature, materials and construction
  • The bedroom and its place in relation to other domestic spaces.

Deadline for titles and abstracts (no more than 300 words): 30th January 2012. Please email abstracts to

Temple Newsam House, Leeds

21-22 June 2012

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Join the global museum community

New applications and renewals are now being accepted for International Council of Museums (ICOM) membership for 2012.

ICOM is the world’s largest professional museum community, with almost 30,000 members worldwide. Benefits of becoming an ICOM member include:

  • the ICOM card, giving you free access to museums and exhibitions worldwide
  • connecting to museum professionals in other countries
  • access to training, resources and international exchange opportunities
  • eligibility to join International Committees, which bring together experts of museum specialties and act as ‘global museum think tanks’

Some of the International Committees of direct relevance to the Histories of Home SSN are:

Please go to the ICOM UK website ( to see details about how to join/renew and the 2012 membership rates.  Please download a renewal form, complete it and either send it by post with a cheque to the address given or by email as an attachment to

Please also note that the two ICOM UK Bursary Funds (the ICOM UK Travel Bursary Fund and the Camilla Boodle Fund) are both open for new applications to support members wishing to engage in ICOM activity in 2012. You can read about the Bursary Funds and download the Application Form and Eligibility Criteria from .

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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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