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Laura Dudley

Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

From Re-Construction to Co-Production: the past and present authorship of participatory art exhibitions

Thesis Title: From Re-Construction to Co-Production: the past and present authorship of participatory art exhibitions.

Thesis Description:In the context of an increasing emphasis on co-production within museum and gallery practice, this project asks: can the history of participatory art exhibitions lend insight into present practices, and conversely, how does the concept of co-production affect how participatory art exhibitions are historicised?

I will focus particularly on landmark exhibitions which, in their original form, had a significant participatory element. My contention is that these re-staged exhibitions, realized as part of temporary exhibition programmes and motivated by art historical interests, do not yet have a lasting impact on the practices of the museums and galleries that have hosted them. Importantly, neither has re-staging impacted on how the works are art-historically valued, particularly in relationship to questions of artistic authorship. Considering this, the project aims to approach past exhibitions not only through the lens of exhibition history but also through their potential to inform, and be informed by, models and frameworks for participation and co-production that are only being superficially explored by current literature.

Within current museum practice, an interest in participation is evidenced though a broad adoption of the term co-production. This term is increasingly used to describe public involvement in both design processes and the realization of exhibitions and programmes. This research aims to establish how the re-activation of historical exhibitions might also act as a vehicle for public involvement in the authorship of an art work.

Application and impact will be achieved by evaluating the case studies in relation to organisational stratagies and principles of co-production, and proposing a framework for re-staging historical exhibitions as a vehicle for participation.This will impact conventional attitudes towards the authorship of past canonical participatory exhibitions, and also challenge our understanding of, and propose a new model for display, one that allows for public involvement and co-production in the re-activation and re-interpretation of exhibition history.


Research Area

  • Cultural and Museum Studies


  • Ideation for Unpacking Key Terminology,Corridor Conversations, Manchester Metropolitan University (July 2019).
  •  'Bodyspacemotionthings: Robert Morris's 1971 exhibition and its subsequant 2009 recontrcution at Tate Modern', Lasting Impressions II: Making and Re-Making the Replica (June 2019).  
  • 'Action Sculpture', M4C Research Festival Poster Faire (May 2019).
  • 'Co-Production as a Vehicle for Change', Doctoral College Poster Faire, University of Leicester (March 2019).

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Tactile Access to Collections, Touring Exhibitions Group (October 2019)
  • Being Brave in a New World, East Midlands Regional Heritage Conference (September 2019)
  • PAST Records: 19th and 20th Century Design Archives, The National Archives (June 2019)
  • Art Education:Interesting Histories and Alternative Futures,Loughborough University (June 2019)
  • Rome: Changing physical and ideological landscapes of the eternal city, British School at Rome, AHRC (June 2019)
  • Human-Centred Design Workshop, Derby Museums (October 2018)


  • Eastside Projects ESP Member (2019 onwards)
  • British school at Rome (2019 onwards)
  • Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies (2019 onwards)
  • Museum and Society (2019 onwards)
  • Tate Archive Reader (2019 onwards)

Academic/Professional experience


  • Make Works Derby and Derbyshire Co-ordinator, Derby Museums, https://make.works/derbyandderbyshire/
  • Editor-in-Chief, Museological Review, University of Leicester, School of Museum Studies.
  • PGR Student Representative, University of Leicester, School of Museum Studies.


  • Lifelong Learning Programme Assistant, Derby Museums.
  • Marketing Administration Assistant, Derby Museums.
  • Student Support Worker,University of Birmingham/Newman University.


  • MA Art Museum and Gallery Studies, University of Leicester.
  • Exhibitions and Display Intern, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (working on Dippy on Tour, Natural History Museum Partnership, Coming Out, Arts Council Collection Partnership and The Past is Now, Changemakers).
  • Gallery Assistant, Attenborough Arts Centre (Arts Council Collection touring exhibition 'Ryan Gander: Night in the Museum').


  • PGCERT Fine Art, University of Wolverhampton.
  • Exhibitions volunteer, New Art Gallery Walsall (exhibitions includeThe Humble VesselLand, Sea and AirEva Rothschild 'Alternative to Power' and Idris Khan 'A World Within').


  • BA Hons Fine Art, University of Wolverhampton.