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CFP: “Curating Art History”: Dialogues between museum professionals and academics

11 November 2013

Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies

University of Birmingham

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts: 7th-8th May 2014

There is a commonly held belief that art history’s business is to increase our store of knowledge and understanding of works of art. In this context, sharp separations have been drawn between art history and art criticism, which are perceived as separate spheres, fundamentally differing in their approach, motive, form and objects of study. But is it legitimate to draw such a sharp distinction? This is where the role of museum professionals becomes critically significant. Museum and gallery displays affect our perception and definition of ‘Art’, as much as the work of art critics. Curatorial strategies can disrupt traditional modes of viewing and through innovative uses of digital technologies can invite the spectator to see what might have been previously missed. Unconventional museum displays and interdisciplinary projects can break down traditional boundaries between ‘material culture’ on the one hand, and ‘fine art’ on the other. For example, museums and galleries collect and exhibit objects that have hitherto been neglected due to preconceived conventions of categorisation; the ethnographic artefact as a work of art or stained glass as environmental art. This colloquium therefore seeks to consider in what ways cultural collaborations, innovative exhibitions and museum collecting influence art historical research and vice versa.

This is a colloquium organised by the Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Journal of Art Historiography. The organisers invite proposals for papers of 20 minutes exploring themes including (but not limited to):

  • Knowledge exchanges between museum professionals and academics from theoretical, historical and/or practical perspectives, including:

University courses in Art History and Museum Studies

International, national and local research networks

  • New and emerging approaches to art and art history, incorporating:

Digital technologies

Collaborative research

  • Art critics’ impact on exhibitions and art history

Please submit abstracts for papers of up to 300 words, together with title, contact details and affiliation, via email to: The deadline for receipt of abstracts is Thursday 19th December 2013.

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