Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum is a major research project focused on recent and contemporary artworks which challenge the practices of the museum. Responding to Tate’s bold acquisition policy and building on its pioneering research and expertise in this field, the project is contributing to theory and practice in collection care, curation and museum management.

The research is grounded in six case studies drawn from works in the Tate collection; works which unfold over time and exist in multiple forms. These challenge the boundaries between artwork, record and archive and rely on complex networks of people, skills and technologies outside of the museum.

At the heart of this initiative is a desire to open up the museum and provide a generous invitation to Tate’s public, making visible the invisible lives of artworks as they unfold within, and in dialogue with, the museum.

How are we approaching this research?

Past events

  • Tate Liverpool


    LightNight 2019: Tony Conrad performance

    17 May 2019

    An opportunity to experience the distinctive sounds and visuals of avant-garde video artist, filmmaker and composer Tony Conrad

  • Tate Modern


    Lives of Net Art

    4 Apr 2019

    A day-long series of talks, workshops and interactive experiences that explored how artists use the internet

  • Tate Modern


    Lives of Net Art: Christiane Paul

    3 Apr 2019

    A conversation about how museums engage with internet art, with Christiane Paul, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Gary Stewart and Anne Barlow

About us & our work

Led by Professor Pip Laurenson and centred in Tate’s Collection Care Research team, some of the project’s researchers are embedded in various Tate departments and all work in close collaboration with staff across Tate. The initiative will also host four visiting fellowships and one collaborative doctoral student. The research team will work in partnership with a range of senior academics from around the world who are positioned to open up new areas of scholarship.

  • Meet the Project Team

    Get to know the project team, led by Professor Pip Laurenson and centred in Tate’s Collection Care Research department

  • What we’re reading

    A working document tracking resources and texts that are supporting our thinking

Head and shoulders studio portrait photograph of Haidy Geismar

Haidy Geismar, Senior Academic Fellow

Haidy Geismar was the project’s first Senior Academic Fellow. Her fellowship ran from September 2019 to January 2020.

Haidy is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London, a curator of the UCL Ethnography Collections and Co-director of the UCL Centre for Digital Anthropology. Her research expertise lies in collaborative museum practice, indigenous museologies and indigenous contemporary art (Vanuatu and New Zealand).

The fellowship supported the development of longer-term projects, including an edited volume on impermanence. Haidy’s engagement with Reshaping the Collectible also prompted new writing, working on a paper that takes three core terms for the project – participation, social networks and decolonisation – and explores how they might be seen from inside one of the case studies.

Haidy’s fellowship closed with the convening of a talk for Collection Care staff. The event brought together four members of Te Maru o Hinemihi, a pūkenga, or specialist board of advisors established to raise awareness and support the conservation of Hinemihi. Hinemihi is a traditional Māori meeting house from Te Wairoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and now at Clandon Park in Surrey, England.

Through their talk, Samantha Callaghan, Anthony Hoete, Dean Sully and Haidy discussed how the group could be understood as a strategy of care, working within different structures (whether the National Trust Friends organisation, or those from Aotearoa). A discussion followed about the lessons that could be drawn from their work for contemporary art conservation.

Haidy’s UCL profile provides more background on her research and previous publications.

This fellowship is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


For general enquiries or to join our mailing list, please contact

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation logo

Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and runs until 2021