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The Women Who Made Museums

Open almost any historical survey of collecting, and you will be presented with a catalogue of the men who have formed great collections over the centuries – with Catherine the Great and Peggy Guggenheim among the few exceptions, perhaps. But many of the great collections we know today were created or shaped by women whose impact on the history of taste, and on the evolution of collections to become publicly accessible museums, is finally receiving due attention. This conversation will explore the characters and collections of three women who surrounded themselves with art – Alice de Rothschild, Marjorie Merriweather Post and Helene Kröller-Müller – and how the obstacles and opportunities they encountered may have informed the collections they built. It will explore how these women’s legacies are reflected today at – respectively – Waddesdon Manor (Buckinghamshire), Hillwood Museum (Washington, D.C.) and the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo). This discussion is part of a series of three events in collaboration with Apollo magazine, exploring the human stories behind museum collections and how the characters and achievements of historic collectors make themselves felt – and are being re-evaluated – in museums today.

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Welcome word by TEFAF Chairman of the Executive Committee

Tanja de Boer

Tanja de Boer is Head of Collections and Research at the Kröller-Müller Museum. She is responsible for conservation and restoration, collection registration and collection research, loan traffic and depot management. She previously worked at the National Library of the Netherlands, the Inspectorate for Cultural Heritage and Museum Meermanno in the Hague.

Kate Markert

Kate Markert is Executive Director of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. In her previous tenures, She has been Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford Connecticut, Associate Director of the Walters Art Museum and Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Kate is co-author of The Manual of Strategic Planning for Museums, first published in 2007, as well as the revised and expanded edition, The Manual of Strategic Planning for Cultural Institutions, published in April 2017. Her latest book, A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood, was published in 2020.

Pippa Shirley

Pippa Shirley is Director of Collections, Historic Properties and Landscapes at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (National Trust/Rothschild Foundation). Pippa’s curatorial career began at the British Museum in the then Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, and in 1992 she moved to the V&A as a Curator in the Metalwork, Silver and Jewellery Department, specialising in decorative ironwork and English and continental silver. Shirley’s external roles include membership of Reviewing Committee for the Export of Works of Art, and advising the UK Government (Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport.

Moderated by Fatema Ahmed (Apollo magazine)