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National Museums - Narrating the Nation


Full programme and abstracts

This conference will provide a forum for discussion of historic and current museum practices and debates in different national settings including New Zealand, Russia, Pakistan, Canada, Benin and Ireland. Our motivation in bringing together this wide range of experts is to learn how ideas of the nation have been materialised, collected, visualised, manufactured, articulated, displayed and performed in national museums in the past and in the present day.

A further aim is to speculate about the future role and strategies national museums might utilise in relation to contemporary debates about material heritage. 

  • Online (with some panels and talks streamed from the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin).

  • To register, please click on the link below.
  • Free. Open to all.

Programme (all times Irish Standard Time / UTC +1)

To register for all the events on Friday 29 October 2021 go to

Friday 29 October 2021

10.00 Welcome by Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland and Dr Lisa Godson, programme leader, MA Design History and Material Culture, National College of Art and Design
10.15-12.30 Panel 1 – National Museum of Ireland: Past, Present and Future chaired by Brenda Malone, NMI
Battle Trophies, Personal Relics, and a Commissioned Canoe: Irish Colonial Collecting in the National Museum of Ireland 
Rachel Hand, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Folklore Collectors and Ethnologists: Material Culture and the Work of the Irish Folklore Commission
Dr Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin
Inheriting the National Museum
Professor Elizabeth Crooke, University Ulster
Past Actions, Present Opportunities: The Natural History Museum in the Nineteenth Century
Dr Sherra Murphy, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
12.30 Break
14.00-15.30 Panel 2 – Museums and Politics Today chaired by David Crowley, NCAD
Crushing Culture, Dismantling Defiance: the Politics of Mesopotamian Museology
Isra Samara Saymour, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto
Russia—My History: A Participatory Museum or a Disciplinary Institution?
Alina Parker (Ryabovolova), University of Massachusetts Amherst
Holy Heritage, Secular Symbol: Hagia Sophia and Narratives of National Identity in the Republic of Turkey
Dr Gregory Goalwin, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois, USA
15.30   Break
16.00-17.30  Panel 3 – Museums After Conflict chaired by Dr Audrey Whitty, NMI            
For the Museum Yet-to-Come: Preserving Non-National Memory in Lebanon
Dr Renée Ragin Randall, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The (National) Key Problem of Sarajevo’s Lock-Down of Cultural Institutions from 2011
Sandra Bradvić, art historian, curator and art critic
Sites of Contested National Identity and History: Peace Museums
Dr. Joyce Apsel, Clinical Professor, Liberal Studies, College of Arts & Sciences, New York University
17.30 Break

18.00-19.30 A Nation’s Story is Many Stories           
Keynote lecture from Dr Michèle Gates Moresi, Curator of Collections, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

This conference is an outcome of a strategic partnership between the National Museum of Ireland and the National College of Art and Design, a collaborative project that has enriched both institutions through student projects, research initiatives and joint public events.
The conference is convened by colleagues across both institutions: David Crowley, Head of Visual Culture (NCAD), Lisa Godson, Programme Leader of MA Design History and Material Culture (NCAD), Brenda Malone, Curator of Military History, Arms and Armour, Flags, Banners and Transport (NMI) and Audrey Whitty, Deputy Director/Head of Collections and Learning (NMI)




National Museums - Narrating the Nation is located at:
Collins Barracks ,
Benburb St,
Dublin 7
D07 XKV4

A two-day international conference organised by the National Museum of Ireland and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Friday 29 October and Friday 5 November 2021.

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Collins Barracks ,
Benburb St,
Dublin 7,
D07 XKV4

+353 1 677 7444