27 Pages

Art collections

WithAlison Bevan, Gemma Brace

This chapter focuses on the physical aspects of providing access to a fine art collection, while making reference to digital access, virtual exhibitions, display, interpretation, learning, disability needs and storage. Many museum collections contain objects described as art, such as easel paintings and ornamental ceramics, along with items that demonstrate aesthetic-led craftsmanship but which may be categorised outside of art. The categorisation of photography and film in a fine art collection is usually determined by authorship and intention of such items. The motivation for the accumulation of paintings and art objects is sometimes the inherent ‘need’ to possess a beautifully depicted landscape painting or the classical curves of a marble sculpture. From the late eighteenth century onwards, Western art collecting has been largely driven by individual personalities, encompassing private collectors, artists and, latterly, curators. Naming the artist or designer may be complicated, for example in collaborative pieces or time-based media, where there may be multiple creators.