Call for Papers: Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures. Online Conference, 1-11 September 2020

The exhibition and its power over objects and visitors is a commonly analysed aspect of museum history. Museum Studies is underpinned by seminal texts attending to the poetics and politics of museum display. Yet the activities, agendas, experiences and impact of those historically involved in museum exhibition design have rarely been considered. While contemporary museum exhibition design is a thriving field of study, Suzanne MacLeod, Charlotte Klonk and Sam Alberti have all noted that the agents of past display practices have often remained hidden. Apart from the occasional ‘starchitect’, art museum curator, or author of a “how to” volume, exhibition makers – from early curators and technicians, to more recent design, interpretation and other exhibition professionals – have tended to remain ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum. The collaborative effort of creating an exhibition is often neglected.

The event will now be a nearly carbon-neutral conference (NCNC), held entirely online. Running for two weeks, the conference has no physical venue, and its participants do not, on this occasion, meet in person. In this time of uncertainty and confinement, Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures will bring international scholars together as an asynchronous online community. Panellists record a 20-minute video or PPT recording, which is submitted to the organisers in the weeks leading up to the launch. Over the two weeks of the live event, the conference website will host keynotes, panel presentations and Q&As; web pages will include reading lists, links to global research centres and archives, and a noticeboard for worldwide research projects. Museum Exhibition Designwill be a landmark event in Critical Museum Studies, and provide a permanent online resource for twenty-first century scholarship.

Hosted by the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton, this conference will virtually welcome scholars from all disciplines and career stages to consider museum exhibition design practice and exhibition making from a range of perspectives. The intention of the conference is to bring together those studying temporary and permanent display practices in museums, from the eighteenth century to the recent past, with reflective commentary from exhibition makers practising today. The purpose of the conference is to reframe understandings of museums and their genealogy, as well as to enter into a dialogue with museums and exhibition makers as they plan for the future.

The full call for papers with the possible themes of enquiry and more information about the conference can be accessed at the conference webpage or downloaded here.

Conference presentations can be in any language (but would need to be professionally subtitled in English); Q&As will be in English. Please send a 300-word abstract and a short biography to CentreforDesignHistory@brighton.ac.uk by Monday 22 June 2020. For informal enquiries, please contact c.wintle@brighton.ac.uk

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