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Joint SSN Seminar: ‘Audiences, Authority and Collaboration in Museum Research’

This joint SSN seminar was held at the National Gallery, Tate Britain, and the National Portrait Gallery, 12–13 March 2015

The seminar is part of the Subject Specialist Network: European Paintings pre-1900.


This two-day joint Subject Specialist Network (SSN) event was co-organised by the three ‘fine art’ SSNs: Tate Britain’s ‘British Art’ SSN, National Gallery ‘European Paintings pre-1900’ SSN and the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Understanding British Portraits’ SSN. This was the first time the three SSNs had worked together on a joint event and it proved a resounding success. We held three sessions, with each of the venues hosting one of the sessions:

  • ‘Audiences for Research’ at Tate Britain on the afternoon of 12 March
  • ‘Cataloguing and the issue of authority’ at the National Portrait Gallery on the morning of 13 March 2015
  • ‘Research Collaborations’ on the afternoon of 13 March 2015 at the National Gallery. 

At the National Gallery session, Iain Watson, Director of Tyne and Wear Archives & Museum, gave a keynote speech about research collaborations in the North East. This was followed by presentations by the two National Gallery Curatorial Trainees, supported by the Art Fund (Helen Hillyard and Eloise Donnelly) about their research and planned redisplays at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and York Art Gallery. Presentations were then given by the National Portrait Gallery and Montacute House, National Trust, about their collaboration and the session ended with a presentation by Colchester and Ipswich Museums about their participation in the Tate’s ‘Aspire’ project.

Each session was followed by a lively and informative debate and discussion. There were many networking opportunities over lunch and the event included two special private views: an evening private view of the Inventing Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery on Thursday 12 March and an early morning private view of the exhibition 'Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends' at the National Portrait Gallery. 

There was a twitter feed on #JointSSN. Audio recordings of the sessions can be heard here: and