MGHG Biennial Conference 2018 “Museums, Collections & Conflict, 1500-2010”, National Maritime Museum, 13-14 July 2018, London. Keynote speaker: Annie Coombes, Professor of Material and Visual Culture, Birkbeck, University of London.
Museums have been profoundly shaped by war and armed conflict, and have also played a significant part in shaping understandings and memories about them. Yet there has been little sustained examination of the way museums in war and war in museums has played out. Since Gaynor Kavanagh’s foundational study Museums and the First World War in 1994, and with the publication this year of Catherine Pearson’s similarly ground-breaking Museums in the Second World War, it is clear that museums have played and can play an important role in helping society address such crisis situations. On the home front, for example, museums have helped society prepare for war and armed conflict. In leading commemoration in the aftermath of war and armed conflict, museums have helped society come to terms with what happened, understand why it happened, and remember sacrifices. Yet museums have equally served as arenas where issues such as commemoration have been contested and negotiated, and where particular narratives legitimising war and conflict have been developed. This conference hopes to address a broad range of questions, including on collecting (in) war and armed conflict, on the deliberate targeting and destruction or safeguarding of museums and cultural property, and the broader range of institutions brought forth or which are strongly influenced by war and armed conflict.
We seek papers which particularly address but are not restricted to the following questions over a period from the Early Modern to the end of the twentieth century:
What have museums done during periods of conflict and what has happened to them? Have they been responsible for morale, have they been targets of attack, have they physically moved and how has their staffing been affected?
How have museums and collections acted to commemorate conflict?
In what ways have wars and other conflicts affected museums’ and collectors’ collecting activities, positively or negatively? How have wars and conflicts been collected, and by whom?
How have museums represented war, civil war and other conflicts such as rebellions? Have museums promoted peace by interpreting war?
How have museums OF conflict, of the armed forces and of weaponry/armouries developed historically?
We welcome proposals for papers which deal with the history of museums and collecting in a British, European or wider context or which address the relationships between different geographical areas.
Panel proposals are strongly encouraged and should consist of a panel title, proposals for 3 papers, along with a rationale for the panel theme, and contact details and affiliations (if applicable) of all participants. Please indicate whether you will provide a chair for your session or not (it does not matter which). Poster proposals are also welcomed.