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Title: Negotiating change : curatorial practice in UK museums, 1960-2001
Authors: Wilkinson, Helen
Supervisors: Knell, Simon
Award date: 1-Jun-2014
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This study explores changing approaches to curatorial practice and curatorial knowledge in UK museums from 1960 to 2001. It makes an original contribution to the history of museums, exploring an under-researched period and part of the sector, and to the museum studies literature more broadly by providing insight into how change in museums has been generated and negotiated. The study considers how changes in museum provision and practice over the previous forty years gave rise to ongoing concerns about the adequacy of curatorial provision, even while museums expanded and their resourcing improved. It demonstrates that change in museums was driven by a complex combination of factors, with changing political and economic circumstances shaping change alongside an expanding range of professional support mechanisms. It demonstrates how individual curators shaped change through influencing broader developments and through their professional relationships. The study considers the changing relationship between curators and audiences and explores how changing understandings of the nature of expertise and of the communication process began to be manifest in museums’ exhibitions and displays. The study examines staffing levels in a group of major regional museums, demonstrating the increasingly complex nature of museums as institutions, with growing numbers of other staff coming to work alongside curators, who lost their overall numerical dominance during the period under review. It identifies a very significant expansion in staff numbers between 1960 and the mid-1990s, followed by some loss of provision towards the turn of the millennium. The study concludes that attempts to address this decline must be rooted in a fuller understanding of how change has been generated in museums.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Museum Studies
Leicester Theses

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