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Maialen Maugars

Visual Arts, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

New Collecting Narratives: Birmingham Museums' Italian Renaissance and Baroque Decorative Arts Collections.

My doctoral research focuses on the Italian Renaissance and Baroque decorative art collection at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG). The collection was constituted in the 1880s and 1890s, and was one of the first to be exhibited upon the Museum’s opening in 1885. My research has several aims: to study the provenance of the collection and understand how, who and where it was acquired from; to examine the Museum’s acquisition strategy and purchase practices; and to study the collection’s reception and role in public education and artistic training when it was first exhibited.  

Research topics: Renaissance and Baroque Material Culture; Decorative art; Museum Formation; History of Collecting; Provenance research; Victorian Museums.

Research Area

  • Visual Arts


  • Paper, 'Analysing the provenance of Birmingham's Italian Renaissance decorative art collection: John Charles Robinson's acquisitions, 1881-83', Seminaire Collection, 7th February 2023. https://collection.hypotheses.org/1451
  • Paper, ' "The Finest Art Gallery out of London" : innovation, progression, and accessibility at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery', Work in Progress seminar, History department, University of Warwick, 5th December 2022.
  • PGR knowledge-sharing event, Re-imagining Renaissances in Visual and Material Cultures: Memory, Collections and Identities, Co-convened by Prof. Juliet Simpson (Coventry: CAMC) and Prof. Louise Bourdua (Warwick: SCAPVC), 2nd November 2022.
  • Paper, 'Birmingham's Italian Renaissance Decorative Art collection: composition, acquisition, reception', Birmingham Museums Trust staff meeting, 14th September 2022.
  • Paper, ' "By the gains of Industry, we promote Art": Innovaton, progression and accessibility in Victorian provincial museums', Victorian Discoveries Conference, organised by the Victorian Studies Centre, University of Leicester, 1st July 2022 
  • Paper, 'British Buyers and Italian Art Dealers: the provenance of the Italian Renaissance Decorative Art Collection at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery', M4C Research Festival, 16th June 2022
  • Digital poster, M4C Digital Research Festival 2021, https://my.ltb.io/#/showcase/midlands4cities-digital-research-festival-2021/
  • Paper, 'Collecting Practices at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Actors, Networks, Objects', Joint Virtual 2021 Coventry-Warwick Post-Graduate Research Symposium, 19th May 2021
  • Paper, 'Animal Masks and Costumes in Late Medieval Court Culture', Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, 28th June 2018 https://medievalartresearch.com/2018/06/08/conf-animals-the-2018-oxford-medieval-graduate-conference/

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Paper, 'Birmingham's Italian Renaissance Decorative Art collection: composition, acquisition, reception', Birmingham Museums Trust all staff meeting, 14th September 2022.
  • Organised and chaired a research event for the History of Art department at the University of Warwick. Guest speaker: Dr Rebecca Bridgman (Birmingham Museums Trust), 'BMAG but not as you know it: Generating Social Trust, Belonging and Solidarity through Radical Redisplay', 15th June 2022

Other Research Interests

  • Exchanges between Europe and the East in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
  • Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts
  • European Fin-de-Siecle (especially Great Exhibitions)
  • Impressionist and Modern art

Academic profile

Since October 2020 - PhD in History of Art, University of Warwick
Thesis title: New Collecting Narratives: Birmingham Museums’ Italian Renaissance and Baroque Decorative Arts Collections

2017-2018 - MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture, Warburg Institute 
Dissertation title: ‘Vases of the Annunciation: A material culture approach'

2013-2016 - BA in History, UCL (University College London)

Dissertation title: 'Mummers and Mummings in Late Medieval Court Culture'

Funding and Awards

2020-2024: AHRC Midlands4Cities Collaborative Doctoral Award

Work experience

Before starting my PhD, I worked in the Impressionist and Modern Art department at Christie's London. I also volunteered in several museums, including Sir John Soane's Museum, throughout my undergraduate degree.