This British Art Network seminar at Gainsborough’s House, explored how historic house museums and galleries display their collections to the visiting public. Potential strategies may include the re-creation of period rooms of domestic studios to create an immersive visitor experience; alternatively, the historic setting may be approached more neutrally, as a more conventional museum or gallery space. This seminar brought together curators and academics to discuss the display of art in domestic settings in a variety of contexts, cutting across an array of art historical periods and disciplines.

Giles Waterfield | The Picture and the Room

Giles Waterfield looks at how the postion of painting evolved and changed over the years within eighteenth-century interiors.

Giles Waterfield briefly examines how the role and position of the painted surface within an interior evolved over many years. The talk looks at a handful of eighteenth-century interiors and considers the changing position of painting within these spaces, charting a process of liberation from the overall decorum of the room that was both gradual and hard-fought. 

Kate Retford | The Heart of the Home: The Hearth in Eighteenth-Century British Portraiture

Kate Retford, Senior Lecturer and Head of the History of Art department at Birkbeck College, considers the representation and significance of the hearth in eighteenth century conversation pieces.

The hearth has long been at the heart of the home: the focal point of a room; a site and symbol of warmth and hospitality. As such, it is a prominent feature in many eighteenth-century conversation pieces, in which family and friends are often shown clustered in domestic settings, enjoying card games and / or drinking tea in front of the fireplace. Kate Retford, Senior Lecturer and Head of the History of Art department at Birkbeck College, considers the representation and significance of the hearth.

Kim Clayton Greene | Understanding the display of prints in the Nineteenth-Century home

Kim Clayton Greene examines how the print is used in Victorian domestic interior paintings.

Kim Clayton Greene, PhD student in Art History at the University of Melbourne, examines several contemporary paintings of the Victorian domestic interior that include the print, contrasting their depiction against contemporary domestic advice writings. This talk considers potential uses of the print in display, such as presenting the narrative of the artist or home owner and contributing to a general sense of era.

Martin Myrone | William Blake’s 1809 Exhibition

Martin Myrone reflects on modern attempts to reconstruct and interpret William Blake's 1809 exhibition of his 'Poetical and Historical Inventions’

In 1809 the visionary poet and printmaker William Blake (1757-1827) held a one-man show of his ‘Poetical and Historical Inventions’ in upstairs rooms above his brother’s hosiery shop in Golden Square, Soho – the house they had grown up in. In this talk Martin Myrone reflects on modern attempts to reconstruct and interpret the exhibition, the questions of methodology these raise, and on the organisation and reception of the in-focus display about the 1809 exhibition held at Tate Britain in 2009.

Jenny Hand | The House of his Dreams: Reimagining The Munnings Art Museum

Jenny Hand, Director of Castle House museum in Essex discusses the 2015 redisplay of its collection

In 1919, when Sir Alfred Munnings found and bought Castle House, near Dedham in Essex, he called it ‘the House of my Dreams’. After his death in 1959 the house was opened as a museum, a ‘shrine’ to his talent, by Lady Munnings. A recent change in the governance and staffing of the museum has brought about an entire redisplay of the artist’s home for the 2015 season. This talk from the museum’s Director gives an overview of the opportunities and obligations faced by the curatorial team as well as some of the practical issues they encountered during the rehang. 

Michael Huijser | The strength of intangible cultural heritage

Michael Huijser, executive director of Rembrandt House Museum and advisor Council for Culture for the Dutch Government, explains the importance of the intangible for the lifeline of a contemporary heritage museum.

‘The intangible cultural heritage is transmitted from generation to generation, and is constantly recreated by communities and groups, in response to their environment, their interaction with nature,and their history. It provides people with a sense of identity and continuity,and promotes respect for cultural diversity and human creativity’ (UNESCO). Michael Huijser, executive director of Rembrandt House Museum and advisor Council for Culture for the Dutch Government, explains the importance of the intangible for the lifeline of a contemporary heritage museum.

Nigel Walsh | Nothing ‘of serious historical or artistic interest’, Temple Newsam House, Leeds

Nigel Walsh reflects on the history of Temple Newsam House and its changing strategies of display.

When Grayson Perry’s  series of tapestries The Vanity of Small Differences appeared in the rooms of the South Wing of Temple Newsam House in the autumn of 2014 it was the first time since the war years that contemporary art had featured at this Elizabethan-Jacobean house. Nigel Walsh reflects on the history of Temple Newsam House and its changing strategies of display.

Simon Martin | Historic and Contemporary at Pallant House Gallery

Simon Martin, Director of Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, discusses the gallery's evolving curatorial approach to its displays from its historic house displays to commissioned installations of contemporary art.

Pallant House Gallery is a unique mixture of a Grade 1 listed Queen Anne townhouse and a contemporary extension designed by Colin St John Wilson and Associates. This presentation by the Gallery’s Artistic Director discusses the evolving curatorial approach, from the original historic house displays to the current more nuanced and flexible approach to presenting the ‘collection of collections’ of Modern British art and the programme of site specific contemporary installations.