After the Relational Museum: A Question of Identity

After the Relational Museum: A Question of Identity

The Relational Museum project was conceived of as a way of exploring the inherent dynamism of museums. They were not sets of static objects, out of contexts, but objects on the move with a series of links within the museum and beyond which could be activated and re-activated. This seemed especially important in a museum like the Pitt Rivers, Oxford which was so often defined by its history. History matters, but as much for its contemporary importance as anything else. Consequently we wanted to use the Museum to explore current issues. We realized through the Relational Museum project that more objects in the Pitt Rivers came from England than any other country. This led to the Other Within project, which explored how issues of self and otherness were played out in a museum context. In this paper I will provide a brief retrospective on the Relational Museum project, but think too about English identities, a current issue within the politics of the British Isles.

Chris Gosden has carried out archaeological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Turkmenistan and Britain, among other places. He was a lecturer-curator in archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, where he worked on the history of collections and their relevance to post-colonial relations and identity. It was here that he ran the Relational Museum Project and a follow-up project on the English collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum called The Other Within. More recently he has run research projects on the history of the English landscape from the Bronze Age to the Domesday Book in the early middle ages and on Celtic art first in Britain and now in Europe taking into account Eurasian links. He is writing a book on the long-term history of magic. He is currently Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford. He is a trustee of the Art Fund and a fellow of a number of learned societies.

Date & time

Tue 24 Oct 2017, 6.15–7pm


Theatrette Sir Roland Wilson Building, Building #120, McCoy Cct, ANU


Professor Chris Gosden University of Oxford


Robyn McKenzie
02 6125 9878


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