Life Cycles Seminar Series
Institute of Historical Research
Senate House (North Wing), London WC1E 7HU
Tuesdays, 5.15 p.m, Pollard room
22/02/2011, 5.15 p.m, Dr. Ruth Adams (King’s) ‘The New Girl in the Old Boy Network: Elizabeth Esteve-Coll at the V&A’.
The lecture will consider the career of Elizabeth Esteve-Coll – the first, and only, female director of the V&A from 1987 to 1995. She presided over, and to some extent was the cause of, perhaps the most controversial period in the Museum’s history. She was subject to a huge amount of scrutiny and was often pilloried by associates and in the media for introducing policies regarded by many as philistine and mercenary, and explicitly Thatcherite. However, it might be argued that she was ‘more sinned against than sinning’ and that these criticisms were in the most part a rather reactionary and defensive response to her social class and gender. In order to consider the validity of such an argument, Esteve-Coll’s career will be presented within the broader contexts of the V&A’s history, and the socio-political and historical circumstances within which she was working. The presentation will further consider whether matters have improved significantly for women currently pursuing high-level careers in museums.
We usually go for a drink and a meal afterwards.