Free Art Passes for all History of Art students at Birkbeck!

So, we’ve reached the end of the first week of the academic year, and all the inductions have been held! The final group of students to be welcomed to the department for the first time were those embarking on the BA in History of Art and the BA in History of Art with Curating, who we met on Wednesday evening for introductory talks, chats in personal tutor groups, and, of course, a few glasses of wine and some nibbles. It’s been good to meet all our new students over the last couple of weeks, and to put faces to names we’re familiar with from application forms and email correspondence. I hope you all enjoy your first classes on your courses – or, for our new MPhil/PhD students, your initial meetings with your supervisors and fellow students as you embark on your programmes of research.

Most of our continuing students on taught programmes will already have had at least one class this week, and will be finding out more about the module(s) they are studying this year. I met those BA and Graduate Certificate students taking my level 6 option course, ‘Portraiture in England in the Long Eighteenth Century’ for the first time yesterday evening. I always particularly enjoy those first sessions, where you get to meet the group you’ll be working with, and to think about the visual material and themes you’ll be covering across the course.


I am very pleased to announce a great opportunity for all History of Art students in the department in this blog posting! Those of you who were here this time last year will remember that we were contacted by the Art Fund, with a generous offer of free student national art passes. I am delighted to be able to say that they emailed me earlier this week, to let me know that they are making the offer again! This is open to ALL students in the History of Art department, whether studying for a Certificate, BA, Graduate Certificate, MA or MPhil/PhD. All you need to do is to follow this link and sign up BEFORE 23 OCTOBER. Your free card will be sent directly to you.

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Many of you will already know about the Art Fund and will have enjoyed the benefits of one of their passes – but, for those who haven’t, your pass will get you 50% off many major exhibitions, as well as free entry to 230 charging museums and galleries across the UK for the next 12 months. You’ll also receive exclusive shop, cafe and catalogue offers, and regular e-newsletters. If you download the Art Fund’s free Art Guide app, it will help you to locate and to create a wish list of your favourite exhibitions and venues.

Do please follow the link and sign up as soon as you can! It’s a great offer – and also important that we have a good take up, to show our appreciation.


One of the main purposes of this blog is to let you know about the activities of staff and students in the department, so I shall finish with a couple of news items

–           Dr. Kasia Murawska-Muthesius, one of our Associate Lecturers who teaches on a range of programmes in the department, told me a few days ago about the publication of a new book she has just co-edited, with Piotr Piotrowski.  It’s called From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, published by Ashgate, and it brings together the work of museum professionals and academics to examine the theoretical concept of the critical museum, using case studies of engaged art institutions from different parts of the world. Sadly, Piotr, Kasia’s co-editor and a leading Polish art historian, died in May this year, and the launch of the book at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, on 9th September, was devoted to his memory.

–           Kasia’s new book reaches beyond the usual focus on western Europe, America, and ‘the World’, to include voices from, as well as about, eastern European institutions, which have rarely been discussed in museum studies books so far. This gives me a pleasingly effective segue to news of a recent major international conference, organised here at Birkbeck, by Dr. Robert Maniura! Many of you will know Robert, an expert on the art of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and my predecessor as Head of Department. Robert is in the second year of research leave, working on a major project on the art of this period, part of which has been funded by a British Academy Fellowship. Do have a look at his blogsite to find out more. The conference was called ‘Frontiers of Fifteenth-Century Art’, and it sought to widen our focus beyond the seminal and much discussed art of Italy and the Netherlands from this period, and to draw attention to currently neglected areas of central and eastern Europe. I was able to drop in to hear Robert’s opening paper, and was delighted to spot the familiar faces of many Birkbeck students and alumni in the audience.