LAHP Cohort Development Day at The Soane’s Museum – 3rd May

LAHP-funded students and supervisors were invited to a private evening event at the weird and wonderful Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 3rd May 6-9pm.

The evening provided opportunities to meet and mingle with fellow students at the same stage of their PhD and to meet their supervisors, too.

The event started off with a drinks reception and an introduction to the fascinating history of the museum. During the event, some of our LAHP academics and the museum staff had guided students through the collections in the context of their own research areas and were led discussions with ‘pop up’ talks around the museum. They also had the opportunity to explore this extraordinary museum, which was the home of Sir John Soane, architect and collector, and remains as it was at his death in 1837.

It is difficult to describe the museum. It contains all kinds of treasures such as paintings by Canaletto and J.M.W. Turner, a 3,000 year-old sarcophagus of an Egyptian King, and William Hogarth’s series of paintings A Rake’s Progress. But it is the way that Soane juxtaposed all the different things he collected that makes the museum so special and so atmospheric. 

The event came to a close with an announcement of a new funding call for a student-led events around the theme of ‘Displacement’ or around another theme inspired by the museum’s collections and your own research.

Our speakers for the evening were:

  1. Professor Jonathan Hill, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Jonathan will speak about architectural history and the Soane, which was in fact the first architectural museum. He will think about design, place, space, and ruin.

Architecture in Ruins’: blurring design, history and fiction, 12-14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields is an intensely personal, highly self-conscious, determinedly fragmentary and decisively meandering autobiography in which John Soane imagined the past, the present and the future in a single architecture. Living on site while the three adjacent houses were demolished, constructed and adjusted, Soane conceived a monument and a ruin as creative, interdependent and simultaneous themes within a building, addressing temporal and environmental questions in poetic, psychological and practical terms, and stimulating questions of personal and national identity, nature and culture, permanence and impermanence, weather and climate.

  1. Dr Ruth Mandel, Department of Anthropology, UCL & Dr Zerrin Ӧzlem Biner, Contemporary Turkish Studies, LSE

Ruth and Zerrin will talk about displacement as a political, temporal and spatial experience through ethnographic examples from Turkey, Germany and Kazakhstan. Our talk aims to open up space to  re-think the his connections between displacement and refugeehood and discuss that displacement as an event and process is also experienced by citizens with long lasting and enduring temporal and material effects on their lives.

  1. Dr Ellen Adams, Classics, King’s College London

‘Displaced visitors: making museums accessible for people with sensory disabilities.’

London’s museums offer excellent provision for blind and partially sighted people in the form of audio description and touch tours, and many also support Deaf art guides who communicate in the visual/spatial language of British Sign Language.  This talk aims to highlight this work – and to point out what benefits these different modes of communication might have for sighted/hearing visitors.  It also seeks to demonstrate how disability studies and related disciplines may be incorporated into Classics and the Humanities more widely, and in doing so introduce new ways of seeing for all.

  1. Dr James Grande, English, King’s College London

‘Apocalyptic Displacement and Depopulated London: Soane, John Martin and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man in the 1820s’

London in the 1820s was a rapidly developing, self-consciously modern city. In the same decade, however, images of displacement, depopulation and desertion continued to haunt the urban imagination, as Mary Shelley’s plague novel, John Martin’s vast paintings of biblical scenes and Joseph Gandy’s watercolours of Soane’s Bank of England in ruins reveal. What, then, was it about London in this period that inspired these works?

  1. Dr Emma Miles, Learning Manager, Sir John Soane’s Museum

Emma will talk about the many and various ways in which the museum has been and can be used as an educational resource at HE level.

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