Author: Victoria Mills (Birkbeck, University of London)
This issue of 19 Live explores how four house museums have navigated the challenges and opportunities of curating the nineteenth century in lockdown.
Keywords: lockdown, Keats-Shelley House, Dickens House Museum, Abbotsford, Walter Scott, Covid-19, Sir John Soane's Museum
How to Cite: Mills, V. (2021) “Introduction to 19 Live”, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. 2021(32). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.4772
This issue of 19 Live explores how four house museums have navigated the challenges and opportunities of curating the nineteenth century in lockdown. Giuseppe Albano, curator of the Keats-Shelley House, Rome, and regional coordinator (Lazio) for the Associazione Nazionale Case della Memoria, writes about how the museum responded to the devastating effects of lockdown in Italy by spearheading a remarkable range of digital initiatives, including online poetry workshops, the development of a panoramic tour, and a collaborative project to produce a computer-generated image of Keats’s face. Kirsty Archer-Thompson, collections and interpretation manager at Abbotsford, the early nineteenth-century home of Walter Scott, describes the challenges of scenario planning within the constantly shifting parameters of the last year, as well as the opportunities afforded by the house closure to develop new projects. Kirsty was able to use this time to transcribe and photograph a neglected family journal and undertake strategic planning for the 250th anniversary of Scott’s birth. Emma Treleaven gives us an insight into her role curating historic interiors at the Dickens House Museum, London. Emma tells us about new research into wallpapers, paints, and floor coverings, and considers the impact of lockdown on both museum staff and the planning of future initiatives. In our concluding piece, Helen Dorey, deputy director of Sir John Soane’s Museum, discusses Soane’s experience of homeworking. Helen showcases the various workspaces within Soane’s house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, and examines the way in which Soane’s architectural practice shaped his life as a homeworker. And finally, a rogue goosander made a guest appearance in one of our featured house museums during lockdown. Read on to discover more!