Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communication

Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

The English Interior Galleries Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham

Since the late 19th century the Period Room has been a consistent presence in the public museum, and yet over the past 25 years the Period Room has become a contentious museum object, leading many museums to question the legitimacy of the Period Room as an effective and appropriate method of display and interpretation.

As dislocated fragments, often remodelled to fit the spaces in the museum, the Period Room is, for some: a signifier for the inauthentic, an outmoded method of display and an example of unfashionable museum interpretation. Many museums retain their Period Room displays, but the recent changes in the perspectives on Period Rooms have also led a number of museums in the UK, Europe and the USA to reconsider their continued relevance as museum objects. This may include dismantling or de-accessioning the displays, and in some cases, repatriating the Period Rooms to their places of origin (if they still exist).

This conference, jointly organised by the University of Leeds and The Bowes Museum, and supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, considers the Period Room, and the historic interior, from a wide variety of perspectives in order to address some key questions about the history and practice of Period Room displays in Museums.

The conference has an interdisciplinary framework incorporating theoretical and practice-based perspectives. It brings together leading academics and museum professionals from a wide range of institutions in the UK, Europe and the USA, to discuss, debate and share perspectives on history and interpretation of Period Rooms and historic interiors in museums.

For conference delegates there is also a chance for wider participation in the debates through the mid-conference ‘Sandpit’. We hope that the conference will have wide appeal and that it will have a significant impact on future museum practice and museum theory.

Conference highlights include:

  • Keynote talks from Thomas Michie, (Senior Curator, Decorative Art and Sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and Giles Waterfield, (Former Director, Dulwich Picture Gallery).
  • Closing conference address from Professor Helen Rees Leahy (Professor of Museology at the University of Manchester).
  • Conference speakers include museum professionals from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Minneapolis Institute of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; National Museums, Scotland; Historic Royal Palaces; The Science Museum, London; The Jewish Museum, Vienna, and the Universalmuseum Joannneum, Graz. As well as academics from University of Cambridge; University of Ghent; KTH Royal Institute, Stockholm; De Montfort University; University of Durham; Open University; University of Potsdam; University of Southampton.

Included in the conference fees are:

  • Presentations on the innovative methods of display and interpretation of the English Interiors Galleries at The Bowes Museum, led by senior curators.
  • An organised field trip to Auckland Castle.
  • Evening wine receptions at both The Bowes Museum and Auckland Castle.

The full conference programmebooking form and costs are available here on the conference blog site.

For further information, please contact Rosie Bradford at The Bowes Museum by email: ThePeriodRoom@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or by telephone: 01833 694615.

High demand for is expected for Conference Tickets so early booking is advised.

 

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