Museum universalities in Western cultural capitals in the nineteenth and early twentieth century
November 17 2017

MAE - Salle du Conseil 9:30AM-6PM

University Paris Nanterre

Around 1900, each Western capital offered its visitors, a particular representation of human universality through its collections of arts, archaeology, applied arts and design, natural sciences, sciences and ethnography. Different circumstances had contributed to the expansion of these collections (e.g. colonialism, art markets, donations), so that the acquisition of new objects often anticipated reflection on their epistemological raison d’être within a given institution. In addition, other factors influencing the development of Western museums included:

  • intellectually, the move from Enlightenment’s encyclopaedism to subject specialisms;
  • economically, the industrial revolution and new commercial interests;
  • politically, the emergence of new nation-states and empires;
  • socially, the growth of the bourgeoisie and new entertainment spaces.

Hence, all these developments, in parallel to the growth of the collections, prompted discussion on museum taxonomies, and on the display of objects.

At the same time, historians were dealing with similar methodological questions in their own attempts to write universal histories. However, the reciprocal impact of historiographical and museological reflections on ideas of universalities has rarely been explored.

The workshop will bring together researchers from both museum studies and history to stimulate discussion across disciplines and national contexts.



Project "Universal histories, universal museums" - universalhistoriesmuseums(AT)



University Paris Nanterre
MAE - Salle du Conseil 9:30AM-6PM _____