Amateur Passions / Professional Practice: ethnography collectors and collections

MEG Annual Conference and AGM
2-3 April 2009
Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives
Venue: Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol
Over the last two centuries, museums and the academic discipline of anthropology have developed, bringing increasing professionalism into curatorship and fieldwork. But look at any museum collection, and it is clear that the ‘amateur’ has been and still is important in ethnographic collecting. What divides the amateur from the professional, and what brings them together? The focus of this year’s conference is on collectors and collections: what drives the one and creates the other?
Papers will address many different strands, such as:
– the changing role of the amateur collector in ethnographic collecting
– women collectors and the amateur / professional divide
– the development of ethnographic museum collections, and the historic context of collecting, from cabinets of curiosities to contemporary collecting
– changing ideas in museums: in curatorship, ethnographic displays, the ethics of collecting
– personal collections, from living room displays to private institutions
– collections research, and, eg, how the method of collection affects the research possible
– non-specialist specialists: other -ologists such as geologists or ornithologists collecting as a sideline to their specialism
-the collector, amateur or professional, and their relationship with the source community
For further information:
Sue Giles or Lisa Graves
Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol BS8 1Rl
Tel: 0117 922 2635 or 0117 922 3783
e-mail: or

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