Museum Debates

Museum Debates is a series of public discussions devised, organised and staged each year by the students of The Courtauld’s MA, Curating the Art Museum. The intention is to focus on issues of current interest and urgency relating to museums and galleries and to the practice of curating; to identify speakers with distinct views and perspectives both within the Institute and more widely; and to frame lively debates that engage a broad audience, of students, professionals and the public at large.

Previous Debates

2022 Debates

16 June 2022: ‘On the Edge’: Is the Role of Women Changing in Architecture?

Dr Emily Mann – The Courtauld

Ann de Graft-Johnson – educator, researcher and architect

Rim Kalsoum – Architect and co-founder of Muslim Women in Architecture

Sarah Wigglesworth – Architect

Thandi Loewenson – Architectural designer and researcher

17 March 2022: All in it Together: Are Artist Collectives the Future of the Artworld?

Kabir Jhala – Journalist and Associate Editor at The Art Newspaper.

Harriet Cooper – Head of Visual Arts, Jerwood Visual Arts.

Dr Rachel Warriner – British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at The Courtauld

Tara White – A Particular Reality.

2021 Debates

19 March 2021: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Decolonising the Museum

Dr. David Dibosa – curator and co-investigator for Black Artists and Modernism, University of the Arts London.
Dr. Nima Poovaya-Smith OBE -museum curator, art historian and writer.
Alice Procter – art historian and author of The Whole Picture (2020).
Ben Okri – is a poet, novelist, essayist, short story writer, anthologist, aphorist, and playwright.
Erika TanStanley Picker Fellow in Fine Art; Decolonising Arts Institute Associate Researcher, UAL.
Michael I. Ohajuru –  is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

 9 June 2021: Public Art: Who Decides? 

Professor Harriet F. Senie – Professor of Art History at City College of New York.
John Maine – Artist
Sarah Carrington – Head of Strategy and Partnerships with The Line.
Eleanor Pinfield – Head of Art of the Underground.
Josef O’Connor – British artist and curator, founder and artistic director of Circa

2020 Debate

20 May 2020: Declaring Emergency: Museums and the Climate Crisis

Ackroyd and Harvey – British Visual Artists
Suzanne Dhaliwal – Artist, Activist, Campaigner, founder of the UK Tar Sands Network.
Samia Dumbuya – Environmental Activist, Co-Founder of Seize the Vote, Climate Justice Campaigner and Friends of the Earth Europe.
Lucia Pietroiusti – Curator of General Ecology at Serpentine Galleries, London
Melanie Vandenbrouck – Art Historian, Writer, Curator of Sculpture at the V&A.



2019 Debates

4 June 2019 Art as Prescription: Mindfulness in the Museum

Dr Rebecca Chamberlain – Lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Fiona Corridan – Curator of Art and Design at Manchester Art Gallery, co-curator of ‘And Breathe…’
Dr Carolyn Sargentson (moderator) – Art Historian, Visiting Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art
Dr Michaela Ross – Research and Development Lead, Bethlem Gallery


6 March 2019 Blurring Boundaries? Confronting Ethnography and Contemporary Art in the Museum

Professor Nicholas Thomas – Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, Curator of Oceania, RA
Professor Haidy Geismar – Professor of Anthropology, UCL
Sokari Douglas Camp CBE – Artist
Professor Deborah Swallow (moderator) – Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art


2018 Debates

26 June 2018 Museums after #MeToo

Clare Gannaway – Manchester Art Gallery
Nathaniel Hepburn – The Charleston Trust
Rachel Cooke – The Observer
Rhiannon Cosslett – The Guardian
Dr. Jo Applin (moderator) – The Courtauld Institute of Art

22 March 2018 The Elephant in the Room: Ivory and the Art World

Alistair Brown – Policy Officer, Museums Association
Martin Levy – Director, H. Blairman & Sons Ltd.
Will Travers OBE – CEO, Born Free Foundation
Dr Niamh Bhalla – Getty Connecting Art Histories Project Manager, Courtauld Institute of Art (Moderator)

2017 Debates

16 March 2017  Museums in a Post-Truth World

Dr. Caroline Campbell, Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department, National Gallery
Dr. Nick Merriman, Director, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester
Dr. Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern
Professor Joanna Woodall, Professor in the History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (Moderator)


2015 Debates

24 June 2015  Museums and Soft Power

Kate Arthurs (Director of Strategy, British Council Arts)
Chris Dercon (Director, Tate Modern)
Darius Sanai (Editor in Chief, Conde Nast Contract Publishing and Editor in Chief, Baku magazine)
Moderated by Professor Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

2014 Debates

14 March 2014  How are Conservation Decisions Reached? The Dialogue between Curator and Conservator

Dean Sully (Lecturer in Conservation, University College London)
Rica Jones (Conservator, formerly of Tate’s Conservation Department)
Titika Malkogeorgou (Associate, UCL Centre for Museums, Heritage & Material Culture Studies; formerly Visiting Researcher at the V&A)

2013 Debates

14 March 2013  Challenging Pasts: Museums, Memory and the Centenary of World War I

Clare Barlow (Assistant Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London)
Lutz Becker (Artist and Curator, London)
Joan Gibbons (Curator and Author of Contemporary Art and Memory, Birmingham)
Ian Kikuchi (War Historian and a Curator of the Imperial War Museum’s new First World War gallery, London)

2012 Debates

8 June 2012  Trans-historical Displays: A Curatorial Challenge?

Christopher Green (Professor, The Courtauld Institute of Art; Curator of the recent Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Léger, and Picabia in the Presence of the Antique at the Getty Villa)
Jeremy Lewison (Independent Curator; Curator of the exhibition Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings opening at Tate Liverpool in June 2012)
Minna Moore Ede (National Gallery; Curator of the upcoming Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, opening at the National Gallery in July 2012)

7 March 2012  Museums without Walls: Showing Art in a Digital Age

Xavier Bray (Chief Curator, Dulwich Picture Gallery)
Spencer Hyman (Chief Executive, Art Finder)
Kirstie Beaven (Producer, Interactive Media, Tate Online)
Joff Whitten (Public Programmes, The Courtauld)
Chair: Sarah Hyde (Visiting Lecturer, MA Curating the Art Museum, The Courtauld)

2011 Debates

7 July 2011  To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Social Media and Museums

Katy Beale (Creative Producer at Culture Hack Day and freelance digital consultant)
Emma McLean (Digital Marketing Officer, National Maritime Museum, London)
Jesse Ringham (Digital Communications Manager, Tate, London)

2010 Debates

5 March 2010  Dizziness, Delusion and Devotion: The Extremes of Viewership Then and Now

Mark Fairnington (Artist)
Edward Payne (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
Jack Hartnell (The Courtauld Institute of Art): Chair

5 March 2010  Blurring Distinctions? Art and Material Culture

Xavier Bray (Assistant Curator, The National Gallery, London)
Christopher Brown (Director, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)
Peta Motture (Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
Joanna Woodall, Chair (The Courtauld Institute of Art)


2009 Debates

6 October 2009 Delivering the Message: Research-led exhibitions

Ken Arnold (Head of Public Programmes, The Wellcome Trust)
Tim Boon (Chief Curator, The Science Museum)
Geoffrey Crossick (Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London)
Xerxes Mazda (Head of Learning and Audiences, The British Museum)

17 March 2009 Entering the Post-Blockbuster Era?

Charles Saumarez Smith (Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts)
Jonathan Jones 
(Art Journalist and Critic, The Guardian)