Museums and the Future of Collecting


Simon Knell (ed.). Museums and the Future of Collecting (London: Ashgate (Routledge), 2004).


The contributions to this book review collecting practices in museums and suggest future directions. First published in 1999, in response to an international conference held at the Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, entitled ‘Carry on Collecting?’, the perspectives here come from museum practitioners and academics. They deal with such varied topics as the international trade in fossils, the representation of subcultures, policies for the small museum, connoisseurship, inferences from collecting studies and histories, disciplinarity, nationhood, collaborative methodologies and so on.  In this second edition I made a number of significant improvements: the whole book has been reformatted, original illustrations added, subheads have been restored, notes now appear at the foot of the page, and I have produced a new index. I also made some additions to the text: Rebecca Duclos’s paper had some content restored, and I added an innovative paper on ranking collections by Martin Wickham and a substantial new introductory chapter of my own. One of the most popular books in the Ashgate list, the second edition had the rare honour of being published in paperback.


The book was DTP’d by me. Free access is given to chapter 1 via the link below.


1 Simon Knell: Altered values: searching for a new collecting                                           

2 Susan Pearce: Collections and collecting                                                                               

3 Malcolm McLeod: Museums without collections: museum philosophy in West Africa 

4 Richard Dunn: The future of collecting: lessons from the past                                         

5 Patricia Kell: The Ashmolean Museum: a case study of eighteenth-century collecting

6 Rebecca Duclos: The cartographies of collecting

7 Barbara Lawson: From curio to cultural document

9 Gaynor Kavanagh: Collecting from the era of memory, myth and delusion

10 Žarka Vujic: Collecting in time of war

11 Graham Dominy: The politics of museum collecting in the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ South Africa

12 Nicola Clayton: Folk devils in our midst? Collecting from ‘deviant’ groups

14 Michael Taylor: What is in a ‘national’ museum? The challenges of collecting policies at the National Museums of Scotland

15 Janet Owen: Who is steering the ship? Museums and archaeological fieldwork

16 Linda Young: Collecting: reclaiming the art, systematising the technique

17 Anna Steen: Samdok: tools to make the world visible

18 Barbro Bursell: Professionalising collecting

19 María García, Carmen Chinea and José Fariña: Developing a collecting strategy for smaller museums

20 Jean-Marc Gagnon and Gerald Fitzgerald: Towards a national collection strategy: reviewing existing holdings

21 Martin Wickham: Ranking collections

22 Patricia Ainslie: Deaccessioning as a collections management tool

23 James Fowler: Collecting live performance

24 Tomislav Sola: Redefining collecting