Blurring Boundaries? Confronting Ethnography and Contemporary Art in the Museum

Organised by MA Curating the Art Museum group

Recent exhibitions and permanent displays have brought together a selection of ethnographic objects and contemporary art. Notable examples include the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy (2018) and the recently opened Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World at the British Museum.

How can these dialogues between ethnography and contemporary art benefit the visitor’s experience? What are the benefits and challenges that come with such curatorial practice? Can contemporary art contribute to the decolonisation of ethnographic museums and displays? What are the implications of blurring boundaries between ethnography, material culture and fine art?

Join us for a panel debate between curators, artists and academics to discuss the impact and future of ethnographic displays in the UK.


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

The debate will be followed by a wine reception and an informal discussion.

6:30pm, 6 Mar 2019

Wednesday 6th March 2019

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London




Museum Debates