Thursday, November 08, 2012

Call for Book Chapters: Collecting the Contemporary (Book to be published by MuseumsEtc in 2013)

Call for Book Chapters: Collecting the Contemporary (Book to be published by MuseumsEtc in 2013)


Edited by Owain Rhys and Zelda Baveystock
We invite international submissions to be included in this forthcoming book, to be published by MuseumsEtc in 2013.
The book will be edited by Owain Rhys, Curator of Contemporary Life at St Fagans: National History Museum, Wales and Zelda Baveystock, Lecturer in Arts Management and Museum Studies at Manchester University.

Why and how should social history museums engage with contemporary collecting? To fill gaps in the collection? To record modern urban life? To engage with minority communities? To link past and present? There are many possible responses... And many museums collect contemporary objects, stories, images and sounds - consciously or unconsciously. But reasoned policies and procedures are very often lacking. And - given the uniquely detailed record of contemporary life recorded by ubiquitous media - how best are museums to record and present contemporary life in their collections?

An overview of contemporary collecting in a social historical context is well overdue. Original source material, ideas, developments and research has never before been brought together in a single volume. This book will bring together practitioners from around the world to provide a contemporary and convenient reader which aims to lay the foundations for future initiatives.

We welcome submissions - of between 3000 and 5000 words – on the practice, theory and history of contemporary collecting in social history museums, based on - but not confined to - the following issues and themes. We are particularly interested in new and pioneering initiatives and innovative thinking in this field. 

  • Projects (including community outreach, externally funded collection programmes, projects with specific goals)
  • Exhibitions (including popular culture, contemporary political issues, under-represented groups
  • Networks – including SAMDOK and other initiatives
  • Fieldwork and contemporary collecting
  • Adopting a scientific approach to contemporary collecting 
  • Audio-visual recording
  • The influence of the internet, how to collect, and associated museological issues
  • Contemporary collecting and contemporary issues
  • Access, storage and conservation issues
  • What to collect?
  • How to collect?
  • Who should collect?
  • Community involvement - advantages and disadvantages
  • Contemporary collecting - key priority or passing fad?
  • Definitions of contemporary collecting
  • Should contemporary collecting be object or people based?
  • Alternatives to the accepted norms
  • The case for nationally or regionally co-ordinated policies
  • The impact of social and digital media for the future of contemporary collecting

  • Origins and development of contemporary collecting
  • Differences between institutions and countries (e.g. Sweden’s ethnological approach v. Britain’s social history approach)
The editors
Owain Rhys has recently published Contemporary Collecting: Theory and Practice with MuseumsEtc. This book gathered together disparate strands of contemporary collecting theory and history, and provided an insight into current practices at St Fagans: National History Museum. Owain is interested in formalising definitions and procedures, and in strengthening the bonds between those museums involved in contemporary collecting. Zelda Baveystock has a longstanding interest in contemporary collecting. As the first Keeper of Contemporary Collecting at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, she established a subject specialist network of urban history museums actively involved in the field in 2004. She has lectured and taught on the subject in the UK, and in Sweden.

If you are interested in being considered as a contributor, please send an abstract (up to 250 words) and a short biography to both the editors and the publishers at the following addresses:, and by 10 December 2012. Enquiries should also be sent to these addresses. Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the publication and a discount on more.

The book will be published in print and digital editions by MuseumsEtc in 2013.