3 July 2017

The Evolution of the Museum

Science Museum, 
London, 14th July 2017

This workshop is part of the AHRC/Labex funded Project, Universal Histories and Universal Museums: a transnational comparison. 
Museums are emergent entities – and the evolution of a museum is dependent on a number of factors, including: changes in collecting and disposal practices, redisplays and the legacy of temporary exhibitions. New pedagogical perspectives relating to new questions or ideological trends, either in museology or in the disciplines represented in the collections, are also influential.
The workshop will focus on selected case studies to analyse methodological issues relating to universal histories and universal museums. The evolution of the museum will be discussed in relation to the impact of temporary exhibitions and the circulation of knowledge in the public sphere, including the 1876 Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus at the South Kensington Museum and the creation of the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro.
The 1876 Loan Exhibition is a temporary exhibition which took place in 1876 at the South Kensington Museum and was one of the founding displays which led to the creation of the Science Museum. This exhibition offers a case study for the ways in which temporary displays have a permanent legacy in national and international museum collections, and how far the interpretation and presentation of materials was transformed in this process. 
The Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro opened in 1882 following the 1878 International Exhibition, for which the Trocadéro palace had been built. Though many studies have focused on the successive transformations of this museum in the Musée de l’Homme and, successively, the Musée du Quai Branly and the MUCEM, the first assemblage and display of these ethnographic collections is less well known. Drawing on the place given to the arts, the regions, and different themes in universal exhibitions in Paris, and particularly in the 1878 exhibition, the discussion of the Musée d'Ethnographie will cast new light on the motivations and relationships of collectors, learned societies, politicians, and publics in informing the creation of this museum. 
The workshop will bring together researchers from ethnography, history of science, and museum history, to explore the evolution of museums, mainly – but not only – in France and the UK. The workshop will also reflect on object agencies through a session with the objects studied in the Universal Histories and Universal Museums project. 
Papers will focus on themes including
  • History and/or  comparison of the science and art collections in the South Kensington Museum, and the foundation of the Science Museum
  • History of ethnographic collections in Paris (and direct comparisons with other cities and particularly with London) and of the first Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro
  • The impact of temporary exhibitions and universal exhibitions on the creation and development of museum collections.

For the full programme and to registrar.  


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