Dr Janet Marstine

Dr Janet MarstineAcademic Director

Programme Director, Art Museum and Gallery Studies

Tel: +(44) 0116 252 3971

Email: jm423@le.ac.uk


Personal details

I came to the School of Museum Studies in 2010 from Seton Hall University, New Jersey, USA, where, for five years, I was Assistant Professor in the M.A. Program in Museum Professions.

I served as Interim Director of the M.A. Program in Museum Professions from 2007-2008. In 2007 I became Founding Director of Seton Hall’s Institute of Museum Ethics (IME).

Earlier in my career, I taught art history in the US at Bowdoin College in Maine and at Central Washington University in Washington State, specialising in American art and gender theory. I also curated several exhibitions for university museums and galleries in the US.

I received my PhD in Art History from the University of Pittsburgh and have been awarded fellowships from the:

  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • the U.S. Capitol Historical Society
  • the Newberry Library, Chicago

As Academic Director of the School of Museum Studies, I oversee all of the School’s taught programmes, both campus-based and distance learning. I am responsible for:

  • curriculum development
  • student progression
  • assessment
  • learning resources
  • student experience
  • support and quality assurance

across our portfolio of teaching and learning.

I chair the School’s Academic Committee and sit on the College of Arts, Humanities and Law Academic Committee.

In my role of Programme Director of Art Museum and Gallery Studies (AMAGS), I represent the interests of AMAGS at Academic Committee and School meetings. I also assess all AMAGS applications.

I am Deputy Chair of the School’s Exhibitions Committee.

Internationally, I serve on the Advisory Boards of:

  • the Committee on Museum Professional Training
  • the American Alliance of Museums
  • the Disability and Inclusion Certificate Program of Art Beyond Sight, New York

From 2009-2012 I was a board member of the Museum Committee of the College Art Association, New York.

I am a peer reviewer for the Austrian Science Fund and for numerous museum studies journals and book publishers.

Museum consulting

National September 11 Memorial Museum, 2010-2011: on ethical issues concerning the Museum’s development of exhibitions and collections policies.


I contribute teaching in museum ethics to the School's campus-based masters programmes and have written units on museum ethics for the distance learning masters programmes. I also teach the Option module Curating the Art Museum and a series of seminars on timely issues specifically for the Art Museum and Gallery Studies MA students.

I organise the Perspectives visiting lecturer series for MA students.



[in progress.] Marstine, Janet. Expected publication date 2014. Critical Practice: Artists, Museums, Ethics. London and New York: Routledge. Museum Meanings series.

Marstine, Janet, Bauer, Alexander and Haines, Chelsea. (eds.). 2013. New Directions in Museum Ethics. London and New York: Routledge.

This volume introduces a new generation of research on museum ethics, particularly concerning issues of collection and display. Papers explore the slippage between the material and the immaterial as it impacts ethics policy and practice in museums. Together, the chapters resist a legalistic interpretation, bound by codes, to advance an ethics discourse that is richly theorized, constantly changing and contingent on diverse external factors. Contributors articulate a museum ethics founded on the moral agency of museums, the concept that museums have both the capacity and the responsibility to create social change.

Marstine, Janet. (ed.) (2011). Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics: Redefining Ethics for the Twenty-First Century Museum. London and New York. Routledge. See Museum Management and Curatorship 26: 3 (2011) for a review.

This book takes measure of and progresses new thinking in museum ethics. The first major volume on the subject to be published in 14 years, it examines the ways in which recent social, economic, political and technological shifts present novel ethical challenges and opportunities for museums. The volume argues for a museum ethics discourse defined by social responsibility, radical transparency and shared guardianship of collections. It shows that museum ethics is more than the personal and professional ethics of individuals and concerns the capacity of institutions to generate self-reflective and activist practice.

Marstine, Janet. (ed.) (2005). New Museum Theory and Practice: An Introduction. Malden and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (Chinese trans. 2009; Macedonian trans. 2010). See Museum Anthropology Review 2:1 (2008) and Museum and Society 8: 2 (2010) for  reviews.

The volume illuminates emerging theories of museology by analysing key issues and debates in the museum sector and situating those arguments within their distinct disciplinary and intellectual contexts. The book interrogates cultural politics and the roles of museums in society. It also considers issues of frames and framing. It identifies strategies to help readers develop their own critiques and new practices.

Edited journal special issue

Marstine, Janet, Bauer, Alex and Haines, Chelsea. (guest eds.) (2010). “New Directions in Museum Ethics.”  Special issue of Museum Management and Curatorship: 26: 2 (May). [re-issued in 2013 as hardback book (see above) with an additional chapter by Marstine].

Refereed journal articles

Marstine, Janet. 2013. ‘Cultural collisions in socially engaged artistic practice: “temple swapping” and hybridity in the work of Theaster Gates’. Museum Worlds: Advances in Practice 1, 153-178.

Marstine, Janet. 2007. ‘What a Mess! Claiming a Space for Undergraduate Student Experimentation in the University Museum’. Museum Management and Curatorship 22: 3, 303-15.

Marstine, Janet. (2002). ‘Challenging the Gendered Categories of Art and Art Therapy: The Paintings of Jane Orleman’. Feminist Studies 28: 3, 631-55.

Book chapters

[in progress.] Marstine, Janet, Dodd, Jocelyn and Jones, Ceri. (expected publication date 2014). ‘Twenty-first century museum ethics: a view from the field’. In Conal McCarthy (ed.) International Handbook of Museum Studies: Volume 4: Museum Practice: Critical Debates in the Museum Sector. General editors Helen Rees Leahy and Sharon Macdonald. Malden and Oxford:  Blackwell.

Marstine, Janet. 2012. ‘A Conversation with Fred Wilson on Museums and Social Justice’. In Richard Sandell and Eithne Nightingale (eds.). Museums, Equality and Social Justice. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 38-44.

Marstine, Janet. 2012. ‘Fred Wilson, Good Work, and the Phenomenon of Freud’s Mystic Writing Pad’. In Richard Sandell and Eithne Nightingale (eds.). Museums, Equality and Social Justice. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 84-102.

Marstine, Janet. 2012. ‘Situated Revelations: Radical Transparency in the Museum’. In Marstine, Janet, Bauer, Alexander and Haines, Chelsea. (eds.). New Directions in Museum Ethics. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1-23.

Marstine, Janet. 2011. ‘The Contingent Nature of Museum Ethics’. In The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics: Redefining Ethics for the Twenty-First Century Museum. London and New York: Routledge, 3-25.

King, Lyndel and Janet Marstine. 2005. ‘The University Museum/Gallery: A Site for Institutional Critique and a Focus of the Curriculum’. In Janet Marstine (ed.). New Museum Theory and Practice: An Introduction. Malden and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 266-91.


Marstine, Janet et al. (2011). ‘Ethics and the 9/11 Museum Complex’.  Anthropology Today: 7: 4 (October), 28.

Book review

Marstine, Janet. 2009. ‘Robert Janes’ “Museums in a Troubled World: Renewal, Irrelevance or Collapse?”’ Museums Journal (October), 62-63.


My research explores and advances innovations in museum ethics. In my scholarship, I argue that traditional museum ethics, as embodied by codes of practice, is a rigid approach unable to guide museums through the complex, shifting 21st-century ethical terrain.

I posit that ethics undergirds all areas of museum work including how and whose cultures are valued, the balance between preservation and public access and the role of the state in these activities.

I redefine museum ethics as both a discourse and a practice emerging from convergences among case studies, values/ principles and living, breathing ethics codes.

At a time when budget cuts and a lack of ethical self-reflexivity have put the future of museums in the UK and around the world in jeopardy, this research introduces to museums new dynamic concepts of ethics responsive to the concerns of human rights, deliberative democracy and globalisation.

I am currently developing a monograph, 'Critical Practice: Artists, museums, ethics' for the Routledge Museum Meanings series. The book interrogates the museological implications of artists’ interventions and shows how interventions can help create reconciliations between museums and their publics. As a framework for recognising and redressing the claims of groups historically oppressed by an environment of exclusion, reconciliation has the capacity to forge new pluralistic institutions characterised by shared authority and equality of opportunity to participate.

In the monograph, I appropriate this concept of reconciliation as a means to understand how artists’ interventions have redressed exclusions and inequalities in museums.

Funded research projects


I am available to supervise PhD and Masters projects in fields related to my interests and expertise.

Topics available:

  • Museum ethics
  • curating contemporary art
  • organisational change
  • institutional critique
  • socially engaged artistic practice
  • artists’ interventions
  • artist as curator
  • feminist methodologies
  • memorial museums
  • curating difficult issues

Current PhD Students

  • Ceciel Brouwer - email crb27@le.ac.uk
  • Laura Diaz Ramos, Feminist Curatorial Interventions in Museums and Organisational Change: Transforming the Museum from a Feminist Perspectives - email lauradiazramos@hotmail.com
  • Jenny Durrant- email jmd53@le.ac.uk
  • Victoria Hollows, Radical Trust in the Museum: Aligning the Organisation’s Ethical Values Internally and Externally - email vlch2@le.ac.uk
  • Kuan-Yin (Ann) Liu - email kyl29@le.ac.uk
  • Sipei Lu, Institutional Critique in a Chinese Museum Context - email sl432@le.ac.uk
  • Daniel Turetsky, Negotiating Intangible Heritage: Policy and Practice in Israeli Museums - email djt25@le.ac.uk
  • Gina Wouters - email gw78@le.ac.uk
  • Zheng Zhang - email zz112@le.ac.uk

I have previously led or co-supervised the following PhD projects to successful completion:

  • Catharina Hendrick, ‘The Agile Museum: Organisational change through collecting new media art’
  • Briley Rasmussen, ‘Pedagogy for the Modern: Victor d’Amico and the Museum of Modern Art, 1929-1969’

I was an External Examiner on the following PhD examinations:

  • Melanie Jordan, Ph.D., Loughborough University, 2015 - ‘Art, its function and its publics: Public sphere theory in the work of the Freee Art Collective 2004 – 2011’
  • Fiona Jane Sarre, Ph.D., University College London, 2011 - 'Trust, control and translation in the new participatory practice:  A critique of the processes, dynamics and impacts of community participation in the curation of new city histories in English museums'

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