Curating a Blake exhibition: Part 1

      No Comments on Curating a Blake exhibition: Part 1

By Sarah Jones

Every so often I publish a Q&A, and today’s guest is Michael Phillips, guest curator of the William Blake: Apprentice & Master exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in 2014-15. I had a very murky idea of how an exhibition comes to life, so thought I’d find out.

SJ: I’m intrigued by the amount of work that happens behind the scenes to mount such an exhibition. How did it come about—did the museum contact you with a proposal and then the planning was joint? How long does it take to go from an idea to reality?

MP: Yes, in 2010 I was invited by the then director of the Ashmolean Museum, Christopher Brown, to discuss what might be possible. Following our discussion I was asked to submit a proposal for the museum to consider which, if accepted, I would be largely responsible for carrying out until the exhibition was ready to be hung. This was more than three years before the exhibition opened in December 2014.

I remember our meeting very clearly, my agreement to prepare a proposal for Christopher and his staff, and the brief. There were five main points: first, the exhibition at the Ashmolean was to be distinct …read more