Taking stock: A study of the acquisition and long term care of "non-traditional" contemporary artworks by British regional collections 1979-present

Fiske, Tina Louise (2004) Taking stock: A study of the acquisition and long term care of "non-traditional" contemporary artworks by British regional collections 1979-present. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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My doctoral thesis engages with the acquisition of 'non-traditional' contemporary works of art by British regional public collections, and their commitment to and provision of care to such artworks over the long-term. The long-term display and care of non-traditional artworks -those that significantly diversify from the core materials, techniques and formats familiar to painting, drawing, sculpture and even photography - poses material and documentation challenges as well as ethical ones, hi the Introduction, I outline how, for museums that acquire them, maintaining such artworks in keeping with the artist's intentions can entail high levels of financial and practical resource and unfamiliar kinds of ethical commitments. As I discuss in Chapter One, British regional collections are acquiring non-traditional art in greater quantities and with an increasing agency regarding how certain contemporary practitioners and trends will be represented within British cultural heritage. I propose that they are, therefore, emerging as legitimate stakeholders in the considerable international body of research into the ethical and effective long-term stewardship of non-traditional art forms. In Chapter Two, I note that the international museum and conservation communities endorse the 'early' acquisition of non-traditional artworks, and assert that acquiring and documenting them soon after creation or first realisation can help mitigate the repercussions that their long-term care might bear. I summarise and evaluate some of the ways in which national and international museums have accommodated the challenges that non-traditional artworks present. Some have modified their pre-existing care procedures, where as others have responded with entirely new strategies. Yet as consumers, I argue in Chapter Three that British regional museums raise salient questions regarding content, accessibility and usability of internationally authored research across a range of museum infrastructures. Regional museums are typically of limited infrastructure and means. As I contend, available case studies, procedures and decision-making processes do not currently take explicit account of, or directly provide for, differing museum contexts. I also promote the legitimacy of regional museums and galleries as potential contributors, Indeed, I argue that scholarship within those museums and galleries into the ethical maintenance and long-term care of their non-traditional holdings must be developed and supported. I maintain that it should be situated alongside, and interact with, that of its national and international counterparts, hi Chapter Four, I provide three inter-institutional case studies to give form to that claim. Thus, I recommend the creation of a 'subject network' dedicated to the curation, administration and conservation of non-traditional artworks, and to be comprised of curators, conservators and administrators from across British galleries. I propose that it serve to foster information and practice sharing within that community. I also put forward that it could facilitate access to, and interpretation of, international research, and that it could develop and promote research agendas relevant to the needs of its constituents. I conclude this thesis with an 'acquisitions update' as proof that there is a real demand for such research as I present here to be applied and further developed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Museum studies, art history.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Hopkins, Dr. David
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-71881
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 09:24
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71881

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