State of the Art: Collecting art and national formation c. 1800–2000
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
18 - 20 July 2007
This international conference draws together a range of academics and curators from national and international institutions to consider the issues surrounding art collecting and nationhood across a variety of locations and cultures.
Since the development of the public art gallery and museum in the early 19th
century, art and the collecting of art in Britain have been closely linked
to the articulation of national identity and the construction of nationhood.
They have thus interleaved with debates on national morality, class, race
and gender, and the social and civic functions of culture. In recent years
‘cultures of collecting’ have been subjects of considerable study in art
history, museology and other forms of cultural studies. This international
conference will build on this research, drawing together a range of
academics and curators from national and international institutions, to
consider the issues surrounding art collecting and nationhood across a
variety of locations and cultures.
It will also develop these issues away from a purely Eurocentric focus upon
the history of nation formation and the role of art and collecting in the
evolution of European nationalism, to explore the significance of art
collecting within the history of empire, and for emergent nation-states
outside the European arena. It will also confront the complex and
contentious issues within those larger histories, of the role of war and
looting, and of art and its collecting as both victim and accomplice of
international conflict and conquest.
The conference will complement Art for the Nation, the recently opened
display in the Queen’s House of the various oil paintings collections that
make up the National Maritime Museum’s total holding. One of the principal
aims of the exhibition is to consider the history of these collections and
how they relate to the historical definitions of Britain’s maritime and
Conference supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
Wednesday 18 July 2007
18.30-19.30 Keynote Address:
Art collections and art histories: native, national, international
Professor Nicholas Thomas, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
19.30-21.00 Reception, Queen’s House, and private view of Art for the Nation
Thursday 19 July 2007
09.00-09.30 Registration and coffee
09.30-10.00 Opening remarks
Session 1: Art Collecting and National Ideology
10.00-11.00 Keynote Lecture:
What art, which nation?
David Barrie, The Art Fund
11.30-12.15 Collecting art for 'the nation' at National Museum Cardiff
Dr Rhiannon Mason, University of Newcastle
12.15-13.00 Royal collecting and modernity
Professor Brandon Taylor, University of Southampton
Session 2: The Imperial Sphere
'Guiltless spoliations': imperial sketching in the 1790s
Dr Douglas Fordham, University of Virginia
15.15-16.00 Ethnographic idolatry? Missionaries, museums and the desire for
iconoclasm in London and South Asia, 1800-60
Dr Natasha Eaton, University College London
16.30-17.15 Sowing new seed: Orpen, Ireland, and 'unsophisticated colonials'
in Adelaide, South Australia
Angus Trumble, Yale Center for British Art
Friday 20 July 2007
09.00-09.30 Registration and coffee
09.30-10.30 Keynote Lecture:
Definitions of Empire in the regional art museum in Britain, 1870 - 1914?
Giles Waterfield, Courtauld Institute of Art
Session 3: Collecting and the Emergent Nation-State
11.00-11.45 The Great Exhibition of Persian Art at the Royal Academy (1931)
and its influences
Homa Nasab, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford
11.45-12.30 When the madrasa became a museum: a history of the National
Museum in Damascus, Syria
Dr Heghnar Watenpaugh, University of California, Davis
Session 4: The Impact of War and Conflict
14.00-14.45 A 'contribution towards victory': the state and the visual arts
in wartime Britain, 1939-1945
Dr John Bonehill, University of Leicester
14.45-15.30 Art, politics and state in the GDR: Fritz Cremer's Buchenwald
Dr Debbie Lewer, University of Glasgow
16.00-16.45 Collections in search of a subject, objects in search of their
Professor Adrienne Kaeppler, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of
Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington
16.45-17.30 Final discussion and conclusion
Full fee: £60.00
Early registration is advised. The conference fee covers registration,
refreshments, the evening wine reception, lunches and conference materials.
VAT at 17.5% is included in the fee.
A number of student bursaries are available supported by the Paul Mellon
Centre for Studies in British Art. Please enquire for further information.
Payment must be received in pounds sterling. Cheques should be made payable
to ‘National Maritime Museum/CONF’. Payment may be made by Mastercard or
A refund of fees (less 20% administration charge) will be given, provided
that notice of cancellation is received in writing on or before 4 July 2007.
After this date no refunds will be given. Substitutions may be made at any
time but please advise conference staff as soon as possible.
To book your place on the symposium, please download the booking form (PDF,
Mrs Janet Norton, Research Administrator, National Maritime Museum,
Greenwich LONDON SE10 9NF
Tel: 020 8312 6716
Fax: 020 8312 6592
For accommodation in the area, please contact:
Greenwich Tourist Information Centre,
Pepys House, 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, LONDON SE10 9LW
Tel: 0870 608 2000
Fax: 020 8853 4607
Further information about accommodation in central London can be found on
the University of London accommodation website: www.lon.ac.uk/accom
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.