The Beatrice Blackwood Lecture 2023: Why Museums?

Sir Paul Ruddock
Event date
Event time
18:00 - 20:30
Pitt Rivers Museum
South Parks Road
Venue details

Entry via the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
£15 (Members £10)
Disabled access?
Booking required

Sir Paul Ruddock is a trustee of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, New York. He was previously Chairman of the V&A, a Trustee of the Courtauld Trust and Chair of the World War I Cathedral Emergency Repair Panel and Chair of the UK Cathedral and Major Churches Grants Panel. He is Chair of Oxford University's Endowment Management Committee and Investment Committee and a Fellow of Mansfield College.

His talk will describe the origins of the modern museum and their historical role, with a focus in the 19th century on categorisation and documentation along with a growing curiosity about global cultures. Museums today are expected to educate, inspire and entertain but have also become contested spaces, dealing with controversial issues around restitution, colonialism, human remains, sponsorship and climate change.

Museums show the commonality of human achievements and aspirations, as well as their linkage and connections across the globe and across the millennia. They are the custodians of both the history of humanity and also the extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements of civilisations over 6,000 years of history, preserving the evidence for future generations to study and understand. In spite of having become a focal point for many of the western world's 21st century anxieties, they provide a counterbalancing sense of stability to transitory fashions and ideas.

Join Sir Paul as he talks about past, present and future museums and their evolving role in society.