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Museums, Galleries and the Powers of Portraits

September 21, 2017, 5:00pm BST - 6:00pm
Museums and Galleries History Group

Wolfson I, IHR
IHR, Senate House, Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom


Lecture by Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham University)

Abstract: Portraits, whether originals or reproductions, are common in museums, while galleries devoted to them are currently enjoying considerable popularity.  Indeed, portraits have long been displayed to diverse audiences—museums and galleries are important but not the only places where they may be seen.  As a result we have a chance to reflect on how museums and galleries use portraits in the wider context of publications, digital culture and venues where public access is limited. Professor Jordanova will explore the diverse ways in which portraits are put on show and are assumed to offer insights into past times, often through the idioms of heroism and villainy. So portraits are at once ubiquitous, unremarkable, taken for granted, and endowed with the power to evoke specific human beings and prompt a myriad of reactions. What kinds of powers do portraits have? Do these aid historical understanding? And what can usefully be said about the roles they play in museums and galleries?

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September 20, 2017, 5:00pm BST

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