Museum Studies Conference seeks utopia

Posted by pt91 at Mar 12, 2012 12:16 PM |
University of Leicester to host symposium for postgraduate students, researchers and museum professionals

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 12 March 2012

A two-day interdisciplinary postgraduate symposium entitled ‘Museum Utopias: Navigating the Imaginary, Ideal and Possible Museum’ will take place on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March 2012 at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

Sponsored by Hanwell Instruments Ltd (part of the IMC Group Ltd) and the Graduate School Researcher Development Fund, University of Leicester, this highly-anticipated symposium seeks to re-imagine museal theory and practice through the lens of utopia. It is primarily aimed at doctoral students and early career researchers, but is also open to museum professionals. The symposium will address the question of how the museum shapes and is shaped by the concept of utopia in its past, present and future incarnations.  It will also give museum researchers, students and practitioners the opportunity to consider the many changes that are currently taking place in the museum sector and how museums might respond to these as both challenges and opportunities.

‘Museum Utopias’ will engage deeply with the idea of the museum  - with what museums are, what they have been and what they have the potential to become in the future – at a time when the nature and purpose of museums is held in contestation.  The symposium will explore these ideas thematically through the notions of:  ‘Lost Utopias’, ‘Personal Utopias’, ‘Designing Utopia’, ‘Problematic Utopias’, and ‘Unrealised Utopias’.  Delegates will also have the opportunity for some blue-sky thinking in two workshops in which delegates will work together to generate new ideas on developing the Utopian museum.  Confirmed keynote speakers include Professor Richard Sandell, Head of the School of Museum Studies, and Dr Bernadette Lynch, formerly of the Manchester Museum, a UK based international museum writer, researcher and consultant. 

Professor Richard Sandell, Head of School, said: "our PhD community has once again identified a theme that clearly resonates with museum scholars and practitioners from many different backgrounds, organisations and parts of the world.  We are especially grateful to Hanwell Instruments whose generous support has enabled us to offer travel bursaries to both UK and international students ensuring a rich mix of perspectives amongst attendees.  We look forward to welcoming delegates from far and wide to this exciting symposium."

The sponsors of this event, Hanwell Instruments Ltd, design and manufacture conservation, monitoring and control equipment such as humidity regulators, energy monitoring and UV control systems.  Ian Robinson, managing director of the IMC Group Ltd commented:  “We’re honoured to be able to support this prestigious event which brings together the imaginary, ideal and possible museum.  Technology like ours is helping museums all over the world enter a new era where valuable artefacts and exhibits are better shielded from potentially damaging environmental factors.

“During the last 20 or so years, we’ve carried out numerous conservation-led projects which have given us a wealth of knowledge in this sector and we’re thrilled to be able to share this with attendees at the event in March.” 

Confirmed speakers include David Francis from the British Museum and Miranda Stearn from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.  Speakers and delegates will travel from the mainland UK as well as from Spain, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, Canada and America. 

Places are still available for the symposium, but hurry as the deadline for bookings is 19 March 2012.  Details of how to book can be made found via our website:

Postgraduate students, professionals and researchers from all disciplines are all warmly invited to attend.  Registration fees for the two days are £50 for students and £70 for non students, and all University of Leicester students will be admitted for the discounted rate of £20.  Fees include lunch and refreshments on both days, and a drinks reception on the evening of 27 March.

This symposium seeks to uncover historical notions of utopia but it will also reveal the outlines of the future museum and what lies in store for the profession, whether this is utopia or dystopia.  Join us on this journey of discovery!  


Notes for Editors:

Sponsorship graciously provided by Hanwell Instruments Ltd and the Graduate School Researcher Development Fund, University of Leicester.

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For more information on Hanwell Instruments Ltd (part of the IMC Group Ltd) please visit:

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