The Society for the History of Collecting Session at CAA 2020

Chairs: Elizabeth A. Pergam, PhD
Adriana Turpin, PhD

Both the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
celebrate their 150th anniversaries in 2020. Yet these two institutions
began in very different ways. While the Boston museum was an outgrowth
of that city’s Athenaeum, with an already extensive collection of works
of art, New York’s museum was founded without a single object in its
collection. These examples are a starting point to consider the ways in
which museums act as collectors. The history of collecting is more
usually positioned as driven by individuals or families. While house
museums have garnered attention as expressions of their founders’
biographies and interests, municipal or encyclopedic museums have not
been examined in a comprehensive way. By focusing on institutions, our
session seeks papers that expand our understanding of the nature of
collecting. Papers might address any of the three aspects of the
collecting process: acquisition, installation and preservation, and
deaccession. Questions that might arise for discussion are: How are
acquisition policies of a museum articulated and how do they change with
the growth of the institution? How and why have museums developed
collectors’ committees? How do museums act as tastemakers? How are
single collector bequests shown within a larger institution? What has
been the impact of curators or directors on their institutions’
collections? Papers may consider institutions other than museums that
collect works of art. For example, corporate collections, pension funds
or foundations have been little studied beyond self-produced volumes.

Please send a 250-word proposal along with a cover letter to by July 20, 2019. You must be
both a member of CAA and a member of the Society for the History of
Collecting (You can join the Society here)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *