Research Group Mission Statement

In the words of Andrew Christenson, "museums were really the first professional homes for archaeology." Indeed, museums in the mid-nineteenth century played an important role in the institutionalization of archaeology, giving tangible expression to archaeological excavations efforts. The collections on display were the scientific equivalent to those of geologists and botanists and helped to improve archaeology's standing as a separate science. Additionally, many perceived the establishment of museums and a national archaeological collection as an essential stepping stone to further recognition of the discipline, a realization that was given initial expression only in the 1860's. While the history of archaeology and its associations to with museums has been considered studied in a number of ways, mainly through its imperial settings, the relationship between archaeology and museums has been much altered by changing forms and practices. From contemporary art exhibitions that re-imagine the significance of classical sculptures to a range of tours exploring queer histories of artists, sculptors and archaeologists through museum collections, the function archaeological objects in the museum is multifarious and instigates new ways in thinking about the discipline in the nineteenth-century.

Using archives and archaeological collections in and outside of London, we intend to bring to light the hidden histories of marginalised groups whose contributions to the discipline have been largely excluded in the current narrative that shapes the history of archaeology.

By engaging with researchers, curators, archivists and art historians, our discussions will examine the various histories of archaeological collections in different forms such as sculptures, photographs, objects, plaster casts and discuss the various ways in which they challenge theories of archaeology that were developed in the nineteenth century. Discussions will be diverse and cover a wide range of topics.

The series will run from September 2018 - May 2019 and will consists of talks from curators, lecturers and PhD students. A full speaker programme can be found below.