The Holburne Museum, Bath

The mrg is currently completing a research project for the Holburne Museum in Bath (managed by N Pretty), a project that extends back to 2006 and builds on earlier museum studies conducted since 1998.

During 2002 a methodology was developed for research at the V&A Museum in London which was to inform the redevelopment and arrangement of the British Galleries and then later the Sculpture and Ceramics collections. The research was extended to include an evaluation of the representation of Black and Ethnic History at the V&A.  The methodology developed for this research was based on a number of previous studies but notably the work of Eilean Hooper-Greenhill who has published widely on the topic of art and interpretation including ‘Changing Values in the Art Museum: rethinking communication and learning’ (2000), a particularly influential paper.

In 2006 The Holburne Museum commissioned the mrg to conduct research to inform the development of their galleries and collection of mainly 18th century art. This research offered the opportunity to refine the methodology developed for the V&A and other museums. The work was completed in 2011 and the mrg is currently undertaking a review study, to test some of the assumptions and recommendations of the earlier research.

An interesting connection has developed from this research with the countryside research portfolio developed by the mrg over the past 15 years. The Holburne Museum is about to present an exhibition of Gainsborough paintings from which the museum wishes to gain a better understanding of the emotional response to the English countryside or how people imagine it. This has been  a key theme of the mrg’s countryside research and the subject of a recent book ‘Visions of England‘ by Roy Strong.

This work will form the basis of an AHRC bid this Autumn to fund a research project that ties together the key themes of art, countryside and leisure currently supported by a number of museums and collections.