Academic Session 25: Edinburgh 2016

AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh
7 - 9 April 2016

Seconds? – Learning the history of art in the age of mechanical reproduction


Rachel King, National Museums Scotland,
Andrea Gáldy, Collecting and Display,

In 1867, the convention ‘promoting universal Reproduction of Works of Art for the benefits of Museums of all Countries’ was signed. Building on the established tradition of making and collecting casts, it stressed the importance of knowing ‘historical monuments of art’ and the value of reproductions ‘to all museums for public instruction’. It took in ‘objects of exceptional rarity and beauty’ and also ‘monuments’ which ‘must always remain permanently as national treasures of the countries possessing them’. Museums founded their own workshops, worked with innovators and filled their stores and displays with reproductions from elsewhere. Now their products often languish in depots, victims of Benjamin’s loss of aura and the growth of photography as the reproductive medium. This panel asks what has rendered them so unimportant, despite the material turn and increased interest in the decorative arts in higher education. Possible topics include: international institutional collaboration in making, exchange and collecting of copies (electrotypes, photographs, postcards, elastic moulds, fictile ivories, casts, holograms, (working) models, glass specimens, private photography and copying; the artistry of specimens and simulacra; copies as the preserved memory of lost or damaged originals; international exhibitions and the politics of art and art education in the later 19th century; copies as an income stream; the history of the ‘education suite’, dual?role professionals, the collaborative PhD; teaching and handling collections (dedicated and repurposed); private individuals and copied objects.

Email paper propsals to the session convenor(s) by 9 November 2015. Download a Paper Proposal Guidelines