News

British Art Network call for papers: Research and the Museum Ecosystem

  • 27 September 2019

The British Art Network invites proposals for contributions to a day-long conference entitled ‘Research and the Museum Ecosystem’ to be hosted in Cardiff by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales on 19 March 2020. Submissions are welcome from curators, academics, artists, independent scholars, museum and heritage sector professionals and beyond.

This conference, focusing upon arts-based research in the museum, gallery and academic worlds, is intended to provide a fresh opportunity to investigate how the concept of a museum ecosystem might offer an alternative to, or even an improvement upon, more traditional frameworks of curatorial practice.

The term ecosystem was coined by biologists in the 1930s to identify the ways in which living organisms interacted with their inert environment to form a dynamic and regenerative community. Since then the term has also been used to describe human ecosystems, which offer opportunities to shape and encourage energy flows, and to cope creatively with transition – or even catastrophe. While the concept of human ecosystems has been explored in relation to the workings of academic and museum circles in recent years, discussion has gravitated towards science-based research rather than the arts and humanities.

This conference places the concept of the museum ecosystem – and its relation to curatorial research and activity – at centre stage. A ‘museum ecosystem’ can be understood in relation to a variety of evolving, responsive and sometimes regenerative forms of interaction: across and within the environments of individual museums and galleries; across and between a series of interconnected institutional spaces within a particular locality or region; or between such institutions and their wider environments.

Three men and a woman sat smiling whilst presenting at a conference

British Art Network conference attendees,



Possible themes and topics to be explored in the conference are:
• The museum ecosystem as an entity: dynamism versus stability
• The impact of the ecosystem on curatorial and scholarly research culture
• How to shape a research-related museum ecosystem through the exchange of ideas, collaborations and partnerships
• Research in the museum ecosystem in the context of different management models in the university, the commercial sector and civic sphere
• The narrative and justification for research partnerships and collaboration
• Risk-taking and the issue of perceived success and failure
• Expenditure of finance and resource in the museum ecosystem in supporting research funding
• The issue of what constitutes ‘research’ and who might be recognised as a ‘researcher’ within the context of the ecosystem model

Contributions should take the form of 15-minute individual or joint presentations and should address subjects central to the conference’s stated theme of research relating to the museum ecosystem. The focus of contributions may be art-historical, museological, artistic, theoretical, case-study based, or reflective but all will be expected to have an interrogative and critical dimension. The day is intended to facilitate creative dialogues across and between disciplines, individuals and institutions, so we would welcome especially contributions that create opportunities for such exchanges.

Proposals should take the form of a written statement of no more than 500 words, stating the research questions, the means by which these will be addressed, and the relevance of the proposer’s research, practice and/or experience in addressing these questions. Short, one-paragraph biographies of speakers should also be included at the bottom of the proposal (this is in addition to the 500 words allotted for the proposal).

Please send Word or PDF documents to Jessica Juckes, Coordinator, British Art Network: jessica.juckes@tate.org.uk by 1 November 2019.