SEM: Collecting and Display: Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach (9 March 2020, London)



6.00pm in Room 304

Monday, 9th March

Jane Milosch Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and Nick Pearce, University of Glasgow

Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Provenance – tracking the origin, ownership, transfer, and movement of objects – has become somewhat more visible in recent years, spurred on by the restitution of Nazi spoliated artworks and lately human remains and cultural heritage translocated during the colonial era. But rich provenance data is relevant within a wider a range of contexts and for a plurality of audiences where there is a desire to connect with objects, histories, cultures and associated people of all kinds. Through the work of the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative Jane Milosch and Nick Pearce have been engaging with provenance from this broad range of perspectives which has resulted in a new book: Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach, the aim of which is to present provenance as an integral part of collecting history, illuminating the social, economic, and historic contexts in which objects were created and collected. They argue that provenance relates to the history of people as well as objects and its study can reveal an often-intricate network of relationships, patterns of activity, and motivations across a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Nick Pearce holds the Richmond Chair of Fine Art at the University of Glasgow, where he specializes in the arts of China. He joined the University of Glasgow in 1998 where he has held the positions of Head of History of Art and Head of the School of Culture and Creative Arts and is currently a Smithsonian Research Associate. His research interests include photographers and photography in late nineteenth-century China and aspects of the collecting of Chinese art in the West during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries.  His most recent publications include: “From the Summer Palace 1860: Provenance and Politics,” in L. Tythacott (ed.), Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France (2018).

Jane C. Milosch, Director of the Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) at the Smithsonian Institution, is the founder and former director of the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative, where she oversaw WWII–era provenance research projects and advised on international cultural heritage projects, provenance, and training programmes. In 2014, Milosch was appointed the US representative to Germany’s International “Schwabing Art Trove” Task Force Advisory Group. Milosch is currently an honorary professor in the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.

More information can be found here:


RAAMP Video Practicum: Integrating Curricula and Exhibitions

Issa Lampe, Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, Deputy Director for Academic and Curatorial​ Affairs, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, present the exhibition series “Smart to the Core” at the Smart Museum of Art in connection with the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and courses at the University of Chicago.

Also featuring John Kelly, Christian W. Mackenauer Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, Jessica Kirzane, Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and David Levin, Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies, the Department of Media and Cinema Studies, the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies, and Senior Advisor to the Provost for Arts at the University of Chicago.

My Gallery is Bigger Than Your Gallery | Recording and Resources


On Thursday, November 21 at 2 pm (EST), Michael Dickins presented on the campus plan he has devised for the New Gallery at Austin Peay University.

Faced with limited storage space on campus, Dickins started a program (with strict parameters) to share the permanent collection with the campus community, while also creating an educational opportunity for Austin Peay students. With the permanent collection at their disposal, Dickin’s undergraduate student workers curate exhibitions to hang in department spaces.

For each exhibition, students write a curatorial statement, labels, and record an audio guide segment for each work that visitors can access through the app, Guide-by-Cell.

In his presentation, Dickins shares images of the finished exhibitions, and, as an open book, shares his trials, tribulations, and successes he encountered while running this campus plan program.

Benefits of this program, according to Michael Dickins:

  • Gets artwork into public sphere instead of hidden in storage (which ours is not large enough to house our collection)
  • Allows for academic buildings to look less ‘institutional’
  • Artwork only goes in spaces accessible to the public (NOT offices) – as it is a collection at a public university and needs to be accessible to the public.
  • Artwork gets installed on OUR schedule as myself and assistants have other duties.
  • Gives students experience in curating, installing, labeling, cataloguing in database, art handling, etc. – plus writing a curatorial statement.
  • This informs the occupants of said space that this is a teaching/education opportunity and not just decorating.

Future Events

Michael Dickins will be presenting at CAA’s Annual Conference on Wednesday, February 12: Is that Unprofessional? When Artists Curate, alongside our September Coffee Gathering host, Meredith Lynn.

Articles and Documents

Austin Peay Students Discover Work from Two Major Artists in University’s Collection

The New Gallery Collections Management Policy

View PDF

Penn Museum Redesign Aims Beyond Academics

The Penn Museum, geared towards becoming “a more public institution” has reinstalled its galleries with thousands of artifacts that have previously been in storage.

The museum has also created a program for immigrants and refugees from Africa, Central America, Mexico, Iraq, and Syria to guide visitors through the museum and speak about the collections of antiquities from their native countries. [The New York Times]

A Survey from David Choberka about Managing Access to Collections

Dear colleagues,

UMMA is interested in hearing how our fellow institutions manage access to collections for curatorial research and exhibition planning. Would you please fill out this brief survey?

If you’re also interested in the results, let me know and I’ll share it with you.


David Choberka

Mellon Manager of Academic Outreach and Teaching

University of Michigan Museum of Art

How Time Spent in an Art Museum Can Improve Medical Students’ Skills

Each year, the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia hosts a two hour “Clinician’s Eye” workshop for second-year medical students. The workshop allows medical students to work on their observational skills and practice gathering clues to formulate decisions.

Curator M. Jordan Love, medical humanities professor Marcia Childress, and docent coordinator Emily Lazaro worked with students throughout this workshop.

Childress argued, “In a museum setting, we can slow down that process for them. It helps build reflexes they will need in a clinical setting, when they have to react and learn very quickly.” [UVA Today]

RSVP to our next Coffee Gathering: My Gallery is Bigger Than Your Gallery

On Thursday, November 21 at 2:00 PM (EST) RAAMP will be in conversation with Michael Dickins, the curator and director of The New Gallery at Austin Peay State University. He will talk about the campus plan he created which enables him to share the gallery’s collection in the university’s community spaces.

“My formal gallery is 1500 square feet,” writes Dickins. “My actual gallery is 186 acres of surrounding campus. I list my Gallery as my primary residence, but the rest of my campus is my second home, or better yet, a cultured land that includes some of my favorite vacationing spots.”

“I often use academic buildings, student common areas and the campus landscape to install works of art to not just boost the presence of the Department of Art+Design around campus, but as extensions of the gallery to educate students and the campus community about art and to generate conversations. These installations of artworks have bred collaboration between departments, administration and, more importantly, the facilities and grounds crews.  They have also been excellent teaching opportunities for my students to learn about curating, installation, collaboration and managing red tape.”

Michael Dickins earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and a BFA from Georgia Southern University. His work has been exhibited throughout the Southeastern U.S. as well as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston, San Diego, Portland; Augusta, Maine, Istanbul and Berlin. He has twice been a featured artist at {Re}Happening at Black Mountain College and has received commissions from the Pittsburgh Playhouse and the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company for original sound score and projection design.

He currently lives and works in Clarksville, Tennessee and is the Curator and Director of The New Gallery and University Collections at Austin Peay State University.

As Director of The New Gallery, Dickins has curated numerous exhibitions by Wendy Red Star, Valery Estabrook, Stephen Hayes, Andrew Blanchard, Michi Meko, Yvette Cummings, Gamaliel Rodriguez and many others. His upcoming projects include exhibitions by Jiha Moon, Laura Splan, Rahelah Filsoofi and Peter Precourt.

His role as a curator in a university setting is to provide diverse programming that is visually appealing, physically engaging and intellectually challenging to the university and surrounding communities. “As a gallery director, it is my privilege to provide a safe space for artists to experiment with their craft, engage with the public, and participate in a dialogue on issues of social, cultural and political identity that is welcoming and accessible to the public.”

To RSVP to this Coffee Gathering, please email Olivia Knauss at

Our Coffee Gatherings are hosted on Skype for Business. All participants who have RSVP’d will receive via email a link in advance to attend the session. Once you receive the link, you may join the conversation to test the Skype for Business application. Please use this same link when you are ready to join the scheduled date and time for the Coffee Gathering.

Please note the Coffee Gatherings are recorded and uploaded for future viewing.

We kindly request that you turn off your microphone during the conversation; however, you may keep your camera on if you wish.