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Title: Museum architecture : a new biography
Author: MacLeod, S.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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What do we really understand about museum architecture? How are museums made through design, but also through use? What are the motivations of those involved in museum projects and how is the physical stuff of museums implicated in the creation of professional identities and social relationships? Recent decades have witnessed an international explosion of museum building, expansion and renovation and the development of a sub-discipline in museum studies as museum professionals and academics have sought to understand the myriad issues involved in capital development. Despite the number of texts and events dedicated to planning successful capital projects, there has been little detailed exploration of the nature of museum architecture. Dominant understandings of museum architecture as the aesthetic outcome and activity of the architect continue to inform much writing about museum buildings, and the histories these texts construct about museums and how they are made, continue to influence professional attitudes towards capital development projects. This thesis utilises an architectural history of one museum – the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool – in order to explore the nature of museum architecture and the multiple ways in which it is produced. Driven by critical thinking around the social production of architecture, the thesis develops a biographical approach to unearth detailed histories of architectural change and development and provide glimpses of tangled stories of occupation and use revealing of social and professional relationships and of the politics and tensions behind architectural development. Drawing on research in museum studies, architectural history and theory as well as biography, autobiography and life writing, the thesis explores aspects of the subjects, methods and outcomes of architectural history and argues for detailed and nuanced histories of museum architecture which expand our understanding of how museums are made. Biography emerges as a route towards meaningful histories of change with the potential to provide some sense of the ordinary lives, the human bodily experiences that have made and remade the architecture of the museum throughout its ‘life’ and tell new stories of museum architecture necessary for the ongoing development and, potentially, radical remaking, of the physical stuff of museums and galleries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available