Art, Architecture, and their Publics and Legacies

This research stream is concerned with tracing the many ways in which art and architecture have been created for, received, and understood by their publics – from makers and patrons to galleries, museums, and the wider public.

From our home in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and dovetailing with our work in our ejournal and museum and gallery network Midlands Art Papers, we are concerned with the ways that publics have formed and changed over time, while also exploring how contemporary publics engage with art and architecture in new ways. Publics can take many forms – from the architects who worked from the annotated drawings in the sixteenth-century Codex Coner to the audiences addressed through sculpture by public discourses of politics, religion, and empathy in the Victorian period or the regional museum collections in Britain in the twentieth century formed by both local and transnational networks. This theme seeks to connect art and architecture with its publics to understand their shifting roles across time.

Our people

  • Dr Sophie Hatchwell: art writing and exhibition cultures, regional collections histories, 20th century British art.
  • Dr David Hemsoll: Renaissance architecture and its conceptual and philosophical foundations
  • Dr Claire Jones: Victorian sculpture, church, state, academy, museum, sculptor societies, empathy, sentiment, hierarchies   
  • Dr Kate Nichols: collection and display of Victorian painting in museums and galleries in Britain and Australia; new audiences for art at Victorian industrial exhibitions

Our researchers talk about their work:

Renaissance architecture - David Hemsoll


Image: Riviere, Briton; Phoebus Apollo; Birmingham Museums Trust;

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