Seminar Programme

The Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London hosts our seminar on Collecting & Display. The monthly seminars take place at the Institute, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU. Seminars begin at 6.00 and last approximately one hour. 

Please see the Conferences page for recent updates.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN RECEIVING EMAILS FROM US YOU SHOULD CHECK THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN US YOUR UP TO DATE ADDRESS AND MAKE SURE THAT THE EMAILS ARE NOT GOING STRAIGHT TO SPAM.   IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES, PLEASE CONTACT collecting_display@hotmail.com


Our seminars in Spring 2021 will take place on Zoom.


Monday, 15th March, 2021 at 6 p.m. London time – IF JOINING FROM U.S. PLEASE NOTE THAT LONDON & THE EU HAVE NOT CHANGED TO SUMMER TIME YET

Eleni Vassilika will speak on:  The Display of Ancient Art in Museums

Encyclopedic museums face different and arguably more complex issues than do those devoted to pictures or, what we in the museum business refer to as, ‘flat art’.  We may recall the old overstuffed wooden showcases with archaeological or natural history specimens in serial repetition from our museum school trips. Museums with antiquities and mostly fragmentary objects have a harder time in engaging visitors in their exhibitions of ancient or ethnographic cultures remote in time or place. On a practical level alone, the installation of fragmentary three-dimensional objects, is more complex than hanging pictures in a conventional gallery. The objects are usually placed under glass, and in the old days they might have been pinned to a fabric-covered sloping surface or slant. Now individually mounted on ‘invisible’ Plexiglas plinths, the objects are aesthetically positioned and transformed from specimens to ancient works of art. The shorter and wheelchair-bound visitors should be able to view them easily and the taller and perhaps older exhibition goers should not have to bend or struggle to read a label that is placed too low. Lighting a table case can also be tricky since visitors have to bend over to examine objects, thereby casting an obscuring shadow. Ancient art galleries often involve great weights, like four-ton granite Egyptian sarcophagi that may have to be sited on the ground or lower ground floor distant from the portable antiquities. Many are the considerations in bringing ancient art to life.

Dr Eleni Vassilika was Keeper of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum of the University of Cambridge (1990-2000), before taking up the Directorship of the Roemer-und Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim Germany (2000-2005), from where she moved on to become Director of the Museo Egizio in Turin Italy (2005-2014). Although considered a specialist in ancient art, she regards herself as a generalist, able to address a wide spectrum of the arts. Her directorial management skills were honed through the challenging and possibly unparalleled experience of presiding over the successful privatisation of both continental museums. Eleni returned to the UK in 2014 as Curatorial Director of the National Trust, responsible for historic properties. Since 2016 she has devoted her time to research, writing lecturing and organising exhibitions.

Monday, 17th May

MaryKate Cleary, University of Edinburgh, will speak on ‘The Galerie Paul Rosenberg: Transnational Networks and the Market for French Contemporary Art, 1918–1945’

Monday, 14th June

Adelaide Duarte, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, will speak on The Berardo’ Collection and the Museum