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Title: Institutionalised invisibility : histories of models and their makers
Author: Insley, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 2091
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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My thesis combines interdisciplinary research methods and is situated within the field of museum collecting: specifically it investigates the histories of models commissioned and used institutionally for instructional display. Investigating three collections (crystal models in National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh; architectural models at St Paul's Cathedral, London; and dioramas at the Science Museum, London) I found evidence of official and unofficial forgetting. Once high profile, models were removed from public display and are in danger of disappearing altogether. Further, I investigate the fate and reputations of the models' makers, uncovering their training, careers and how they were valued, revealing previously unrecognised stories that could contribute to institutional history, and to the development of wider audiences. I consider what others have thought about the practice of history focusing on object agency, authenticity, copies, memory, and the role of museums, using Actor- Network Theory. Literature from the fields within which the models were (originally) created is considered alongside the collection histories. The models are representational, and used as tools - crystal models for understanding and teaching properties of matter, architectural models for analysing and creating buildings, and dioramas showing context for scientific and technological processes. Despite having essential skills the makers became side-lined. I discuss how this invisibility occurs by considering institutional attitudes to their own histories in present practice, and the nature of official forgetting through disposal. Choosing what should be remembered and how is the subject of a museum sector shift, contemporary concern being for more open, reflective collection management and audience engagement, and maximising use of items which are preserved. I finish with contemporary examples of public enthusiasm for these subjects in craft, art history and exhibition - visibility regained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available