Annual Conference – The Museum as Battlefield: Alternative Models of Museum Practice

Elizabeth Price, A Restoration (film still), 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.
Elizabeth Price, A Restoration (film still), 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.

2 May 2017


Organiser: Contemporary Art Society

Sackler CPD Programme members: free

Non-members: £15

This year the Contemporary Art Society Annual Conference examines radical strategies that museums around the world are deploying in rethinking the way they display and conceive of their collections, and in how they operate within their communities. Generously supported by The Sackler Trust, this is the first conference under The Sackler Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programme, a new three year partnership with the organisation to support museum curators across the UK.

With an introduction by Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, confirmed speakers include: Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Professor Andrea Phillips, PARSE Professor of Art, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg; Professor Paul Goodwin, Director, TrAIN, Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation, The University of the Arts, London; Dr. Clémentine Deliss, independent curator; Professor Victoria Walsh, Head of Programme, Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London; and Lawrence Lek, artist.

The speakers will propose and reflect on a rich array of alternative models of the museum: archive of the commons; site of resistance; social condenser; location for fieldwork; school; forum to debate our values; laboratory; venue for public programming; source material for a choral history; member of an international confederation of institutions.

They will examine some of the experimental strategies currently being used to repurpose museums for the twenty-first century. What does it mean for a national museum of modern art to embrace the ‘global’ and ‘cultural diversity’ when their collections are rooted in Eurocentric art historical narratives? The pioneering response of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid is to view its collection as a universal archive rather than a storehouse of treasures.

The speakers will discuss the hopes and frustrations entailed in the development of alternative models of museum practice. These include new models of egalitarian management to make museums truly participatory, using digital technologies to mediate the museum experience as part of our everyday visual culture and developing innovative models of artist/ curator collaboration in commissioning works for collections.

Founded in 1753, the British Museum is a pertinent place to bring together some of the most interesting thinkers on the role of the museum today.


Travel Bursaries are available but please submit your application by 10 April 2017. To apply and download the Contemporary Art Society Travel Bursary Form (.docx) click here

To book a place as a Sackler CPD Programme Member and/or apply for a bursary please email

To book a place as a non-Sackler CPD Programme member please pay using the link below


Stay up to date with the latest news and events and receive our monthly newsletter.


Support Us

Donations of all sizes help sustain emerging artists at the beginning of their careers and ensure that their work has inspirational impact on audiences across the UK