Doctoral Dissertation

16.4.2016 M.A. Nina Robbins (Faculty of Humanities, Museology)


16.4.2016 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212 (Vanha juhlasali/Old Festival Hall)
M.A. Nina Robbins defends her doctoral dissertation in Museology "Poisto museokokoelmasta. Museologinen arvokeskustelu kokoelmanhallinnan määrittäjänä". Opponent Ph.D. Riitta Ojanperä (Finnish National Gallery) and custos Professor Janne Vilkuna (University of Jyväskylä).

Nina Robbins, photo: Sanna Pajunen

M.A. Nina Robbins defends her doctoral dissertation in Museology "Poisto museokokoelmasta. Museologinen arvokeskustelu kokoelmanhallinnan määrittäjänä". Opponent Ph.D. Riitta Ojanperä (Finnish National Gallery) and custos Professor Janne Vilkuna (University of Jyväskylä). The dissertation is held is Finnish.

This dissertation studies the issue of disposal in Finnish art museums. It is a research in the field of museology, in which museography plays a significant role. The field of museology functions as a science bridging theory and practice. In the research, museum collection management is divided into seven areas: acquisition, inventory, condition assessment, value assessment, conservation, upkeep and disposal. It is essential that collection management be viewed as a unified chain of operations, starting from acquisition and ending in disposal. This creates a bridge from the start of collection management to its end procedures, at which point the total disposal of an item is a possibility. Acts of acquisition and disposal include deeply philosophical aspects, which are nonetheless very practical in nature; decisions involving the two ultimately have very definite outcomes. In 2012 a questionnaire regarding disposals was sent to Finnish art museums, which included 50 questions about collection content, disposals and collection management values. The response rate was 66 %, giving grounds for generalized, legitimate conclusions. The aim was to seek information about overall attitudes toward disposals and to ascertain any possible hindrances in the disposal process.

The theoretical starting point of the research was to establish legitimacy of art museums in making collection management decisions. For this, George Dickie’s institutional art theory was chosen. It was also seen as meaningful to put collection management into the greater context of a long museographical tradition, dating back to cabinets of curiosities and their caretakers. With this connection it was possible to see the long lasting impact that museum collections have had, century after century. The objective was to ultimately start a neutral and collection-oriented disposal discussion in art museums, one that needs a museological value assessment in order to succeed. In addition, it needs to be supported by the impact value of museum objects. It is clear that any disposal process is a time-intensive endeavor, which consumes resources before any calculable benefits become evident. When seeking solutions, museums should retain their autonomy as they determine the limits of their own collections or terms of preservation.


Keywords: museology, museography, art museums, disposal, collection management, tacit information, museological value discussion

More information

Nina Robbins