"The 2018 Artefacts meeting will explore how museums and related institutions have defined and maintained the relevance of their collections. This follows up on themes explored in previous Artefacts meetings and described in the volume Challenging Collections from the Artefacts XVI meeting. As the editors note in the introduction to this volume, museums today “must balance a number of functions, not always mutually compatible: exhibition, preservation, research, and education. … the nature of museums’ relationships with their public has shifted from one of unquestioned authority to a partner in dialogue” (Boyle and Hagmann 2017). At the same time, humanities scholars have had increased interest in objects, collections, and museums. For a range of stakeholders, collections provoke questions of status and purpose that are, organizational, social, and intellectual.
As context and events changed how museums operate, how have scholars at museums and other institutions approached the relevance of collections? In what way have interpretations changed depending on prevalent historiography and motivations of the interpreter? What is the impact of changing techniques available for examining objects? How do institutions prioritize acquisitions and displays for their collections? How has the growing importance of digital access affected the role of collections? More generally, in what ways are history collections relevant to broader society?
This meeting will allow scholars within and outside the museum community to explore how the relevance of museum collections has changed through history. It will also enable museum professionals to pose challenging questions about the present and future of relevance of collections."