Why Collect? with Ellie Miles 3 Apr 2019

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From Gareth Southgate’s World Cup waistcoat, to the Donald Trump Baby Blimp, the Whitechapel ‘fatberg’ and a 3D-printed gun – no sooner does an design object achieve media attention than museums seemingly begin lining up to add it to their collections. While museums have always collected contemporary objects, the collecting of objects that have a live connection to contemporary events is a growing and increasingly contested trend in museums of architecture and design.

In this series a variety of speakers reflect on the contemporary collecting practices they are involved in, exploring the motives that drive them, the contexts in which they operate, their results and impacts (both intended and otherwise), and the broader implications they have for the present and future of museums.

How much of a new departure is this type of collecting and how does it relate to ongoing contemporary collecting practices, for example in ethnography or oral history? In what ways does or can the practice reflect the changing nature of objects which now more than ever exist within complex systems and networks, digital or otherwise? What does this practice say about the changing role of museums in cultural and society?

Ellie Miles is a curator at London Transport Museum, and works on bringing contemporary stories, voices and objects into the museum. Ellie is currently working on an ethics of contemporary collecting with the contemporary collecting group. Before her current role, Ellie was contemporary collecting curator at LTM, a visiting lecturer in digital museums at the University of Westminster, an interpretation officer at the British Museum and a Digital Curator at the Museum of London. Ellie completed her PhD about city museums in 2014. Her other research interests include the history of women working in museums during the Second World War.

Doors open at 18:45. We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access isn't straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on admin@soane.org.uk or 020 7405 2107.

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