Promoting the past, preserving the future : British university heritage collections and identity marketing
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Collections of tangible heritage and material culture found in university museums present both challenges and opportunities for their parent institutions. The identification and recognition of objects and collections of material ‘heritage’ proves difficult to universities, due to the formation and utilisation of their collections. Although each university possesses a history of varied content, length and significance, the rich heritage collections kept by universities remain undefined and largely unknown. This thesis addresses new and changing roles for university museums and collections, focusing on the issues surrounding heritage. What purpose does an institutional collection of academic heritage serve beyond preserving or representing the history of a university? Using data collected during the field research programme and two case studies (University of St Andrews and University of Liverpool) the thesis explores the definition and role of heritage in the university. Through the exploration of these topics, the thesis provides a new model for university collecting institutions based on the concept of ‘university heritage’ and ‘institutional identity’, encompassing collections ranging from subject-specific departmental teaching collections to commemorative collections of fine art. By utilising these once undefined and underappreciated collections, universities can use the heritage objects and material culture representative of their academic history and traditions as institutional promotion to potential students, staff and funding bodies.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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