Vicky Donnellan

The role of collections of classical antiquities in UK regional museums

My research interests relate to the role of museums in society, and the history of collections, with a focus on classical archaeology. These interests have developed during ten years working in museums around the UK, most recently at the British Museum.

My PhD research explores the role of collections of classical antiquities in UK regional museums, looking at the uses made of these collections and their outcomes and impact. The question of value and relevance for today’s museum visitors will be set into the context of the collections’ history. What was the original impulse and vision of the collectors or curators who assembled these artefacts? How does that compare with the aims of their twenty-first-century curators, and how does it affect the way the collections are perceived today? The research takes a qualitative approach, and involves periods of intensive fieldwork at six case study museums, including interviews and observation.

The case studies will provide the basis of an in-depth exploration of the role of classical antiquities today, assessing their benefits for a wide range of users. Discussion of the contemporary role of the case study collections will be situated within an understanding of their histories which will also bring new insights into the broad picture of the development of classical archaeological collections. This interdisciplinary research speaks to the disciplines of classical archaeology, especially the history of collections, and classical reception studies, as well as to museum and material culture studies.

Funding organisation

  • AHRC


 Educational background

  • BA (Hons), Classics, University of Oxford, 2000
  • MA, Museum Studies, UCL, 2001

(in my maiden name, Victoria Turner)

Turner, V. and Villing, A. (eds.), 2011. Fantastic Creatures. Ulsan, South Korea: Ulsan Museum (exhibition catalogue)

Jenkins, I. and Turner, V., 2009. The Greek Body. London: British Museum Press

Jenkins, I. and Turner, V., 2009. La Belleza del Cuerpo. Alicante: MARQ (exhibition catalogue)

Jenkins, I. and Turner, V., 2008. The Ancient Olympic Games. Shanghai Museum; Hong Kong Heritage Museum (exhibition catalogue)

Turner, V., 2002. The factors affecting women’s success in museum careers. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, 8 (online publication)

Conference presentations

April 2013  'The role of classical collections in UK regional museums: the Ure Museum', at Classical Association Conference, University of Reading

December 2012 'Classics in Museums: What Do the Visitors Think?', at the Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World, University of Birmingham 

23rd May 2012 'Classical collections in UK regional museums', Classical Archaeology Seminar at the Institute of Classical Studies, London

17th February 2011, ‘The role of museum collections of classical antiquities: some preliminary findings from an institutional perspective,’ at Classical Studies Reception Network Graduate Workshop, London. 16th February 2011, ‘The role of collections of classical antiquities: some preliminary findings’, at UCL Institute of Archaeology Graduate Student Conference, London.

19th September 2008, with Ian Jenkins, ‘Nixoff in China’, at Thinking the Olympics: Modern Bodies, Classical Minds? conference, Institute of Classical Studies, London.

  • Artists find inspiration in classical sculpture displays (Image reproduced by permission of National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery)

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