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Prof. Susan Lambert

Head of MoDiP – MoDiP

BA Hons (Art History)

Biography

Susan Lambert is Head of the Museum of Design in Plastics (MoDiP: www.modip.ac.uk) at the Arts University Bournemouth. In 2006  the University’s Management commissioned her to undertake an options review of what was then known as the Design Collection Museum and, as a result,  in 2007 MoDiP became the only accredited museum in the UK with a focus on plastics. Highlights of the development of MoDiP have included a series of exhibitions (www.modip.ac.uk/exhibitions-events ) that have explored the potential of plastics in comparison with other materials groups, the influence of plastics on our daily lives,  their impact on achievement in diverse fields, sustainability in relation to plastics, and people’s attitudes to plastics. Previously, after graduating from the Courtauld Institute, Susan worked for many years at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), beginning as a Research Assistant in the Department of Prints & Drawings and finishing as the Keeper of the Word & Image Department. The latter involved the reorganisation of the Department of Prints, Drawings, Paintings & Photographs and the National Art Library & Archive of Art and Design as a single integrated department, one of four curatorial departments responsible for the V&A’s great collections. Highlights of Susan’s V&A career include the development of its first 20th Century Gallery, which broke with tradition and presented design as a global phenomenon; creation of the  Contemporary Programme, with an agenda to engage a younger and more ethnically diverse audience, which pioneered the now widely copied  Friday Late (www.vam.ac.uk/activ_events/events/friday_evenings/friday_late/index.html), and featured  Fashion in Motion (www.vam.ac.uk/collections/fashion/fashion_motion/index.html), live catwalk events staged by some of the greatest designers of our time within the galleries;  and direction of the exhibition,  Give and Take (www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/giveandtake/ai.html), a series of artists interventions in the V&A’s galleries and at the Serpentine Gallery. Advisory roles Susan has held include being a member of the Editorial Board of Art History from 1993 to 1995; an editor of the Dictionary of National Biography from 1994 to 2000; and acting as an expert advisor to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art from 1989 to 2002.

Professional practice

Susan’s role does not involve formal teaching practice but rather the development of ways in which FE and HE students can engage with museum objects in general and plastics artefacts in particular. To this end she convened an HEA seminar in 2012: Object power – the use of museum artefacts and teaching in HE: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2013/Seminars/Disciplines_AH/GEN285_AUCB. Case studies of ways in which the MoDiP collection has been used can be seen at:  www.modip.ac.uk/resources/teaching.

Susan acted as the external examiner for the Design History BA, Camberwell College of Arts, London Institute  from 1999 – 2001; and as an external member of the Courtauld Institute of Art Higher Degrees Committee from 1987 – 1989.

 

Grants

  • £30,900 from Nesta in partnership with Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to create with University of Brighton and Adaptive Technologies Ltd, a digital game for crowdsourcing metadata about museum artefacts piloted on the MoDiP collection but for use nationally. Total grant £119,460. (2013)
  • £9,900 from Arts Council England to develop an online resource to foster best practice in the care, and thus preservation, of plastics objects in museums (2013)
  • £5000 from Arts Council England to develop an Identifying Plastics toolkit for use by museums nationally: http://modip.ac.uk/resources/toolkit (2012)
  • £750 from Higher Education Academy to host Discipline Workshop: Object power – the use of museum artefacts and teaching in HE: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2013/Seminars/Disciplines_AH/GEN285_AUCB (2012)
  • £5000 from Arts Council England to explore further development of Plastics Subject Specialist Network (2011)
  • £6000 to partner the Visual Arts Data base, University for the Creative Arts, with University of Brighton; University College, Falmouth; University of Southampton on the Look Here! project, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee to analyse and create case studies of the complete life-cycle of the digitisation of collections from funding to usage (2010)
  • £10,000 from the Museum’s Association: Effective Collections Fund to research public value of Worshipful Company of Horners’ horn collection on long-term loan to MoDiP (2010)
  • £79,732.37 from the Joint Information Systems Committee to create the world’s largest and highest quality digital record of artefacts demonstrating design in plastics and the functional specification for an improved resource to support research into design in plastics and its cultural impact. (2008)
  • £15,000 from South West Lifelong Learning Network to develop 3 CPD MA units on collecting and curating plastics (2008)
  • £12,000 from Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to run four workshops on Making the most of your plastics and to write an e-manual for curators of plastic objects: http://www.modip.ac.uk/resources/curators_guide (2007)

Research Specialism

  • Design in plastics
  • Reception of plastics
  • Influence and impact of plastics on society
  • Curation of plastics

 

 

Research Supervision

Second supervisor: Kate Hall, PhD, Conversations in plastics: an explanation of why and how conemporry artists are using plastic as a material for their art.

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Research output