Professor Christopher Whitehead
Professor of Museology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5985
I joined the University in July 2002. Prior to this, I worked as a museum curator, a lecturer in Art History and sometime languages teacher, translator and interpreter in the UK, in Italy and in the US.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Member of the Great North Museum Board
- Member of the University Cultural Affairs Steering Group
- Member of the Hatton Gallery Steering Group and Capital Development Group
In the past I have been Director of ICCHS, Director of Research for the School of Arts and Cultures and was the first head of Media, Culture, Heritage
- BA in Art History (University of Leicester), 1993
- MA in Museum Studies (University of Leicester), 1994
- PhD in Art History and Theory (Perfezionamento in Storia della Critica d'Arte) (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), 1999
- Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Newcastle University), 2003
Fluent Italian; improving Turkish; reading skills in French and Spanish.
I trained and worked as an art historian and art curator, but my research activities today are much broader, encompassing museums of different types (especially history museums) and heritage, with particular emphases on the cultural politics of memory, display, knowledge construction and interpretation. I am currently working on political uses of the past, time and place, and contested histories and heritages, especially where these relate to contemporary social tensions, division and conflict. I work across museum, memory and heritage studies but borrow approaches and interests from anthropology, geography, cultural theory, political science, design research and the theory of history. Methodologically, most of my work is ethnographic, qualitative and collaborative, involving ethnography, community engagement, co-production, and experimental, creative design of heritage processes and resources (including digital ones), with a view to positive social and policy impact. Geographically, the majority of my work relates to Europe (particularly the UK, Scandinavia and Italy), Turkey and, to a lesser degree, North America.
I co-ordinate two large projects:
1. The EU-funded CoHERE project, a €2.5million Horizon 2020 study into European Heritages and Identities, working with 11 other organisations across Europe.
2. The Katip-Celebi Newton fund project Plural Heritages of Istanbul: the case of the Land Walls.
Before this I managed the Newcastle University work package of the EU FP7 'MELA' project: European Museums and Libraries in/of the Age of Migrations - a €2.7million award working with 8 other institutions across Europe, led by the Politecnico di Milano. Publications can be accessed here. I am currently building on the results of this project in the form of a website - http://thinkingthroughmigration.com - with free resources for museums interested in dealing with migration.
Alongside these activities I maintain research interests in the general areas covered in my monographs on the 19th Century Art Museum (Ashgate 2005), Museums and the Construction of Disciplines (Bloomsbury 2009) and Interpreting Art in Museums and Galleries (Routledge 2012). My most recent book is the edited volume Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe (Ashgate 2015). I am currently writing a new monograph - Analysing Museum Display - and editing another - Dimensions of European Heritage and Memory, both with Routledge.
With my colleague Dr Emma Coffield I run the Newcastle University interdisciplinary research group on the Cultural Significance of Place. Please contact me or Emma (email@example.com) if you wish to be added to the mailing list.
I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (Academic) and a series editor (with Professor Peter Stone and Professor Peter Davis) of the Heritage Matters book series published by Boydell and Brewer. I am on the editorial Boards of Museum and Society, Museum History Journal, the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy and Curator: the Museum Journal. I am co-editor of the new Rutledge book series Critical Heritages of Europe.
I am currently supervising the following doctoral research projects:
- Institutional approaches to art museum interpretation (Jen Locke)
- Interpreting public art as civic collection (Rebecca Farley)
- Constructions of the public history of ‘contemporary art’ through the collecting activities of north-western-European museums of modern art (Alistair Robinson)
- Faith in displays: an analysis of the changes in the representation of Islamic art in Western Museums (Muhammad Ilmam Bin Tharazi)
- Social Art and the Common Good: What is the relationship between the contemporary practice of social art and the construction of social value? (Hannah Marsden)
- The social agency of photo books in the Artworld (Briony Carlin)
- Political uses of Magna Carta and the 1683 Siege of Vienna in European contexts (David Farrell-Banks)
- Austerity politics in UK museums (Tom Hopkins)
- Interpreting the photographic archive of Maurice Broomfield (Katherine Clough, collaborative doctoral award with the V&A Museum)
I have supervised Claire Pike, Susannah Eckersley, Gabriella Petkova, Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Alex Elwick, Yun-ju Chen, Bronwen Colquhoun, Emma Coffield, Gabriella Arrigoni and Carolyn Gibeson, all of whom have successfully completed their PhDs.
I can take on new students as and when my current students submit and complete. On that proviso, I am interested in supervising doctoral students with a fundamental interest in cultural politics and an openness to theory who wish to work on (in no particular order of preference):
- memory studies, difficult history, uses of the past
- heritage, museums, galleries and social and political theory
- non-official heritage in theory and practice
- museum and gallery history
- interpretation in art museums and galleries, history museums and heritage sites
- museum epistemology, particularly regarding the production of histories
- the use of maps in museum interpretation
- representations and experiences of time and place, place identities
- museums and heritage in the EU, European identities
- museums and migration
- museums, cultural heritage and contemporary social conflicts and tensions
- visitor studies
- museums and cultural heritage in the UK, in Turkey, in Italy, and in Norway
Please contact me if you would like to enquire about studying for a research degree under my supervision.
Work with the heritage sector
All of my scholarly work is in some way intended to benefit the sector and cultural policy makers, including the provision of recommendations for practice, training and building reflexive awareness of key issues (both past and present) for museums, galleries, heritage and society. I have also co-produced exhibitions, such as the permanent display 'Northern Spirit' at the Laing Art Gallery, and have provided advice for museums such as the Natural History Museum, the Manchester Museum, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, and the National Gallery in London. I am an active contributor to international and European ICOM workshops. In 2017 I was a member of the Scientific Committee for the International Museum Day theme of 'Museums and Contested Histories', and videos relating to this can be seen here.
heritage; museums; memory; cultural and social theory and politics; art curatorship; art theory; epistemology; display; art interpretation; museum history; social constructionism; disciplinarity; place; time; migration; EU; difficult history; uses of the past; cultural politics; identity; representation.
Recent and forthcoming talks
‘Critical Heritages of EUrope’, University of Malmo, Sweden, invited talk, June 2018
'Food, Heritage and Nostalgia in an English Open-Air Museum', University of Bologna, invited talk, March 2018
'Museums and an Extroverted Sense of Place', Reykjavik University, invited talk, January 2018
'Critical, Playful, Plural Heritages', CHEurope conference, University of Amsterdam, keynote, January 2018
History UK Plenary address, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 4 November 2017
Recent and ‘Geohistories of Responsibility, plenary address, Curating History conference, European University Institute, Florence, 11-13 October 2017; https://curatinghistory.wordpress.com
Keynote, AHRC Heritage Priority Area conference on ‘Heritage Studies: Critical Approaches and New Directions’, in association with the Association of Critical Heritage Studies UK Chapter, British Academy, London, 5 October 2017; https://ahrcheritage.wixsite.com/ahrcheritage/conference-heritage-studies-critica
Invited paper: ‘Museums of Experience: stories of places and lives in recent European museum practice’, Cultural History Museum, Oslo, 11 September 2017; https://www.khm.uio.no/besok-oss/historisk-museum/utstillinger/skiftende/2017/program-the-art-of-fiction-in-the-museum.pdf
Keynote, ICOM Annual General Meeting, ‘Rethinking Difficult History: museums and serious play’, UNESCO, Paris, 7 June 2017
(with T. Schofield, D. Foster-Smith and G. Bozoğlu) ‘Walking the Walls: ethnography, design and ‘heritage from below’ in Istanbul’, Ethnography on Foot II, Cultural Significance of Place research group, 1 June 2017
Invited talk: ‘Long-term implications of Brexit for Heritage’, Brexit and Heritage, Newcastle University London Campus, 29 March 2017
Invited talk: ‘Heuristic Uses of the Past: the Holocaust in museum education’ Geography Matters, National and Kapodostrian University of Athens, 23 March 2017
Invited talk: ‘Critical Heritages of Europe?’ University of York, 14 February 2017; https://www.york.ac.uk/hrc/whats-on/2016-17/spring/chris-whitehead/
Invited talk: ‘Museums and Difficult History’ University of Oslo, 7 February 2017
Invited talk: ‘Food Safety: consuming cultural difference in museums’ Food as Heritage, University of Bologna, 2-3 February 2017
Invited 'Knowledge Exchange' talk (for museum staff): ‘Thinking Through Migration’, Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne, 14 December 2016
Keynote: ‘Critical Heritages: national museums and the negotiation of difficult pasts’, ICOM Europe, Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, 29 November 2016Invited talk: ‘Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe’, Understanding Europe – Promoting the European Public and Cultural Space, Research Executive Agency, European Commission, Brussels, 17 October 2016
I have interrupted my normal teaching duties to concentrate on research projects. I continue to teach on the HASS Postgraduate Research Training Programme on the HS8004 module on Qualitative Methods and Critical Analysis, in particular within the 'museums, galleries and heritage' and 'thinking theories' strands.
- Schofield T, Foster-Smith D, Bozoglu G, Whitehead C. Co-Producing Collections: Re-imagining a Polyvocal Past with Cultural Probes. Open Library of Humanities 2018. In Press.
- Whitehead C. Radical Objects: Migration and Museums - a response. History Workshop, 2018. Available at: http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/radical-objects-migration-and-museums-a-response/.
- Bozoglu G, Whitehead C. Turkish Neo-Ottoman memory culture and the problems of copying the past. In: Anne Eriksen; Brita Brenna, ed. Museum: A Culture of Copies. Routledge, 2018. In Press.
- Whitehead C. Critical heritages and serious play in museums: engaging with difficulty between Europe and the nation. European Commission, 2017. Available at: http://digitalcultures.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/WP1-essay-1.pdf.
- Whitehead C, Lanz F. Europe and Contentious Cultural Heritage. TRACES 2017, 2.
- Whitehead C, Bozoglu G. Heritage and Memory in Europe: a review of key concepts and frameworks. CoHERE Critical Archive 2017, 1-23.
- Whitehead C, Lanz F. Museums and a Progressive Sense of Place. In: Golding, V; Walklate, J, ed. Museums and Communities in an Age of Migrations: Diversity, Dialogue, Collaboration. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017. In Press.
- Whitehead C, Bozoğlu G. Protest, Bodies, and the Grounds of Memory: Taksim Square as 'heritage site' and the 2013 Gezi Protests. Heritage and Society 2017, Epub ahead of print.
- Whitehead C. How to analyze museum display: script, text, narrative. Newcastle University, 2016. Available at: http://digitalcultures.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/WP1-CAT-1.2.pdf.
- Whitehead C. Why Analyse Museum Display?. 2016. Available at: http://digitalcultures.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/WP1-CAT-1.1.pdf.
- Whitehead C, Bozoglu G. Constitutive Others and the Management of Difference: Museum Representations of Turkish Identities. In: Whitehead, C; Lloyd, K; Eckersley, S; Mason, R, ed. Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, pp.253-284.
- Whitehead C, Lloyd K, Eckersley S, Mason R. Museums, migration and identity in Europe: Peoples, places and identities. Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2015.
- Whitehead C, Mason R, Eckersley S, Lloyd K. Place, Identity and Migration and European Museums. In: Whitehead, C; Lloyd, K; Eckersley, S; Mason, R, ed. Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe: Peoples, Places and Identities. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, pp.7-59.
- Allen A, Bak J, Whitehead C, Gauthier D. Seeing Yourself in the Museum. In: Basso Perresut, L; Colombo, C; Postiglione, G, ed. Museum Multiplicities: Field Actions and Research by Design. Milan: Politecnico di Milano, 2015, pp.95-113.
- Whitehead C. Time and place, truth and proof. The 22 July Information Centre. Nordisk Museologi 2015, (2), 146-154.
- Newman A, Goulding A, Whitehead C. Contemporary visual art and the construction of identity: maintenance and revision processes in older adults. International Journal of Heritage Studies 2014, 20(4), 432-453.
- Whitehead C, Mason R, Eckersley S, Lloyd K. Museums and Identity in History and Contemporaneity. Milan: Politenico di Milano, 2014.
- Allen J, Paiva DS, Descure C, Whitehead C, Bak J. Walkthrough research: Methodological potentials for head-mounted cameras as reflexive tools in museum contexts. In: UbiComp 2014 - Adjunct Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing. 2014, Seattle, Washington: Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
- Whitehead C, Mason R, Eckersley S, Lloyd K, ed. "Placing" Europe in the Museum: people(s), places, identities. Milan: Politecnico di Milano, 2013.
- Newman A, Goulding A, Whitehead C. How cultural capital, habitus and class influence the responses of older adults to the field of contemporary visual art. Poetics 2013, 41(5), 456-480.
- McCarthy C, Mason R, Whitehead C, Parby J, Cicalo A, Schorch P, Witz L, Gonzalez PA, Roux N, Ambos E, Rassool C. Museums in a Global World: A Conversation on Museums, Heritage, Nation, and Diversity in a Transnational Age. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 2013, 1(1), 179–194.
- Mason R, Whitehead C, Graham H. One Voice to Many Voices?: Displaying Polyvocality in an Art Gallery. In: Golding, V., Modest, W, ed. Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections and Collaboration. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2013, pp.163-177.
- Whitehead C. Grand Designs. Labor, Empire, and Museum in Victorian Culture. Journal of the History of Collections 2012, 24(1), 136-137.
- Whitehead C. Institutional Autobiography and the Architecture of the Art Museum: Restoration and Remembering at the National Gallery in the 1980s. In: Hill, K, ed. Museums and Biographies: Stories, Objects, Identities. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012, pp.157-172.
- Whitehead C. Interpreting Art in Museums and Galleries. London: Routledge, 2012.
- Whitehead C, Mason R. Museums, Peoples, Places: European museums and identity in history. In: Basso Peressut, L., Pozzi, C, ed. European Museums in an Age of Migrations. Questions, Challenges, Perspectives. Milan: DPA Press, 2012, pp.153-160.
- Whitehead C, Eckersley S, Mason R. Placing Migration in European Museums: Theoretical, Contextual and Methodological Foundations. Milan: Politecnico di Milano DPA, 2012.
- Newman A, Goulding A, Whitehead C. The Consumption of Contemporary Visual Art: Identity Formation in Late Adulthood. Cultural Trends 2012, 21(1), 29-45.
- Mason R, Whitehead C, Graham H. The Place of Art in the Public Art Gallery: A Visual Sense of Place. In: Davis, P., Corsane, G., Convery, I, ed. Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2012, pp.133-144.
- Whitehead C. The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation. Curator 2012, 55(4), 507-510.
- Buckley B, Goulding A, Newman A, Pringle E, Whitehead C. Artists, Young people and Galleries, Artists' Insights. Engage Journal 2011, 27, 12-26.
- Whitehead C. National Art Museum Practice as Political Cartography in Nineteenth-Century Britain. In: Knell, S., Aronsson, P., Amundsen, A.B., Barnes, A.J., Burch, S., Carter, J., Gosselin, V., Hughes, S.A., Kirwan, A, ed. National Museums: New Studies from around the World. London: Routledge, 2011, pp.105-122.
- Whitehead C. Towards Some Cartographic Understandings of Art Interpretation in Museums. In: Fritsch, J, ed. Museum Gallery Interpretation and Material Culture. London: Routledge, 2011.
- Mason R, Whitehead C, Graham H. Northern Spirit: 300 Years of Art on Tyneside. 2010. Newcastle upon Tyne: Laing Art Gallery.
- Whitehead C. Locating art: The display and construction of place identity in art galleries. In: Peralta E; Anico M, ed. Heritage and Identity: Engagement and Demission in the Contemporary World. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009, pp.29-46.
- Whitehead C. Museums and the Construction of Disciplines: Art and Archaeology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. London: Duckworth, 2009.
- Alberti S, Whitehead C, eds. Constructing Nature Behind the Glass. Museum & Society 2008, 6(2).
- Goulding A, Newman A, Whitehead C. Evaluation of the London Museums Hub Learning Programme, Unpublished research report to London Museums Hub. (48,200 words). 2008.
- Goulding A, Newman A, Whitehead C. Every Child Matters: Report on the London Museums Hub’s contribution to the Every Child Matters agenda. London: London Museums Hub, 2008.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. Impact de la participation aux activités pédagogiques d’une galerie sur le capital humaine, social et culturel des élèves. In: Évaluer les effets de l’éducation artistique et culturelle. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou ; La Documentation française, 2008, pp.441-449.
- Whitehead C. Ken Arnold. Cabinets for the Curious: Looking Back at Early English Museums. Journal of British Studies 2008, 47(2), 410-413.
- Goulding A, Newman A, Whitehead C. North East Cluster Phase 2.1 Research Report: artistic and pedagogical skill-sharing between teachers and artists. In: Taylor B, ed. Inspiring Learning in Galleries 02: Research Reports. London: Engage, 2008, pp.92-117.
- Goulding A, Newman A, Whitehead C. North East Cluster Phase 2.2 Research Report: artists working in gallery education contexts with children and young people. In: Taylor B, ed. Inspiring Learning in Galleries 02: Research Reports. London: Engage, 2008.
- Goulding A, Newman A, Whitehead C. North East cluster research report. In: Taylor B; Houghton N, ed. Inspiring Learning in Galleries. London: Engage, 2008.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. The impact of participation in gallery education activities on schoolchildren’s human, social and cultural capital. In: Evaluating the Impact of Arts and Cultural Education on Young People: A European and International Research Symposium. Paris: La Documentation Francais, Centre Pompidou, 2008, pp.421-429.
- Buckley B, Goulding A, Newman A, Pringle E, Whitehead C. Artists’ Insights: A study of the practices, and the learning outcomes and impact, of visual artists working with young people and educators/facilitators in art gallery contexts, Unpublished report to Arts Council England, (61,800 words). 2007.
- Whitehead C. Establishing the manifesto: art histories in the nineteenth-century museum. In: Knell, SJ; Macleod, S; Watson, S, ed. Museum Revolutions: How museums change and are changed. London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp.48-60.
- Whitehead C. Aesthetic Otherness, Authenticity and the Roads to Museological Appropriation: Henry Cole's Travel Writing and the Making of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Studies in Travel Writing 2006, 10(1), 1-26.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. Five Arts Cities: An evaluative report on the impact on over 50s people of participation in activities related to the British Art Show 6. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2006.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. Fivearts Cities: an evaluative report on the impact on over 50s people of participation in activities related to British Art Show 6. Gateshead, UK: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2006.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. North East Cluster Research Report. In: Taylor, B, ed. Inspiring Learning in Galleries. London: Engage, 2006, pp.122-155.
- Newman A, Whitehead C. North East England Phase 2.0. Engage, 2006.
- Whitehead C. Architectures of Display at the National Gallery The Barry Rooms as art historiography and the problems of reconstructing historical gallery space. Journal of the History of Collections 2005, 17(2), 189-211.
- Whitehead C. Book review: Culture and Class in english Public Museums 1850-1914. Museum and Society 2005, 3(3), 181-182.
- Whitehead C. Book review: The Culture of Property: The Crisis of Liberalism in Modern Britain. Journal of Urban History 2005, 31(6).
- Whitehead C. Henry Cole's European travels and the building of the South Kensington Museum in the 1850s. Architectural History 2005, 48, 207-234.
- Whitehead C. The Public Art Museum in Nineteenth Century Britain: The Development of the National Gallery. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.
- Whitehead C. To Display is to Theorise. Architectural Research Quarterly 2005, 8(3-4), 202-203.
- Whitehead C. Visiting with Suspicion: recent perspectives on art museums and galleries. In: G. Corsane, ed. Heritage, Museums and Galleries: an introductory reader. London: Routledge, 2004, pp.89-99.
- Whitehead C. Live Interpretation and Art in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies. European Insights (International Museum Theatre Alliance Europe 2003, 5(1), 2-4.
- Pratt L, Whitehead C. Notes on exhibitors. In: Making Buildings: Exhibition Catalogue. London: Crafts Council, 2001.
- Whitehead C. Enjoyment for the Thousands: sculpture display at South Kensington 1851-1862. In: Yarrington, A., Sicca Bursill-Hall, C, ed. The Lustrous Trade: Material Culture and the History of Sculpture in England and Italy, c.1700-c.1860. London, UK: Leicester University Press, 2000, pp.222-239.
- Whitehead C. Archival Sources for the Study of the Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Italian Marble Trade. The Sculpture Journal 1999, 44-53.
- M. Barnes and C. Whitehead. The “Suggestiveness” of Roman Architecture: Henry Cole and Pietro Dovizielli’s Photographic Survey of 1859. Architectural History 1998, 41.
- C. Whitehead. Systems of Display and Object Communication in Italian Museums: the territory exhibited. Museological Review 1997, 4, pp. 29-40.
- C. Whitehead. Gustav Friedrich Waagen’s Museographical System of 1853’, Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore. In: Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, ed. Scritti in Onore del Kunsthistorisches Institut. 1996, pp.425-40.