Museums and Biographies

Museums and Biographies

Stories, Objects, Identities

Edited by Kate Hill

Personal eBook

Boydell Press



Essays exploring the relationship between museums and biographies, with worldwide examples and from the early nineteenth century to the present day.
Museums and biographies both tell the stories of lives. This innovative collection examines for the first time biography - of individuals, objects and institutions - in relationship to the museum, casting new light on the many facets of museum history and theory, from the lives of prominent curators, to the context of museums of biography and autobiography. Separate sections cover individual biography and museum history, problematising individual biographies, institutional biographies, object biographies, and museums as biographies/autobiographies.
These articles offer new ways of thinking about museums and museum history, exploring how biography in and of the museum enriches museum stories by stressing the inter-related nature of lives of people, objects and institutions as part of a dense web of relationships. Through their widely ranging research, the contributors demonstrate the value of thinking about the stories told in and by museums, and the relationships which make up museums; and suggest new ways of undertaking and understanding museum biographies.

Dr Kate Hill is Principal Lecturer in History at the University of Lincoln.

Contributors: Jeffrey Abt, Felicity Bodenstein, Alison Booth, Stuart Burch, Lucie Carreau, Elizabeth Crooke, Steffi de Jong, Mark Elliott, Sophie Forgan, Mariana Françozo, Laura Gray, Kate Hill, Suzanne MacLeod, Wallis Miller, Belinda Nemec, Donald Preziosi, Helen Rees Leahy, Linda Sandino, Julie Sheldon, Alexandra Stara, Louise Tythacott, Chris Whitehead, Anne Whitelaw


49 black and white illustrations
348 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Heritage Matters
Paperback, 9781843839613, October 2014
Personal eBook, 9781782044628, July 2012
Hardback, 9781843837275, July 2012
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC GM, 1D, 2AB, 3J
BISAC ART059000, BIO000000, HIS010000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Museums and Biographies - telling stories about people, things and relationships - Kate Hill
A Show of Generosity: Donations and the intimacy of display in the 'Cabinet des médailles et antiques' in Paris from 1830 to 1930 - Felicity Bodenstein
Introducing Mr Moderna Museet: Pontus Hultén and Sweden's Museum of Modern Art - Stuart Burch
Sydney Pavière and the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston - Laura Gray
'His Best Successor': Lady Eastlake and the National Gallery - Julie Sheldon
Women, Museums and the Problem of Biography - Anne Whitelaw
A Curatocracy: Who and What is a V&A Curator? - Linda Sandino
Significant Lives: telling stories of museum architecture - Suzanne MacLeod
Schinkel's Museums: Collecting and displaying architecture in Berlin, 1844-1933 - Wallis Miller
Personifying the Museum: Incorporation and Biography in American Museum History - Jeffrey Abt
Making an Exhibition of Ourselves - Helen Rees Leahy
Institutional autobiography and the architecture of the art museum: restoration and remembering at the National Gallery in the 1980s - Chris Whitehead
Classifying China: shifting interpretations of Buddhist bronzes in Liverpool Museum, 1867-1997 - Louise Tythacott
'Dressed like an Amazon': the transatlantic trajectory of a red feather coat - Mariana Francozo
Individual, collective and institutional biographies: The Beasley collection of Pacific artefacts - Lucie Carreau
Sculptural biographies in an anthropological collection: Mrs Milward's Indian 'types' - Mark Elliott
Houses and Things: Literary House Museums as Collective Biography - Alison Booth
'Keepers of the Flame': biography, science and personality in the museum - Sophie Forgan
National History as Biography: Alexandre Lenoir's Museum of French Monuments - Alexandra Stara
Autobiographical museums - Belinda Nemec
Who is History? The use of autobiographical accounts in history museums - Steffi De Jong
Community biographies: character, rationale and significance - Elizabeth Crooke
Endpiece: The Homunculus and the Pantograph, or, Narcissus at the Met - Donald Preziosi


(D)eeply engaging and accessible, providing unique and varied snapshots into the lives and histories of museums and of those associated with them, while at the same time asking deep questions of agency, knowledge, affect, narrative, object, and self. H-NET

For the academic historian new to the debate on what makes history in museums, the variety of content, particularly in the latter half of this edited volume gives some sense of the complexity of the subject. There is much of interest that can also be garnered from the first part, not least in considering how museums and their collections came into being. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

Informed, informative, and a highly recommended addition to academic library reference collections. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

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