Dissolving Orphan Collections in the Commons

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


Starting from the alarming fact that nearly 13% of museums worldwide may never reopen their doors, affected by the pandemic crisis, I speculate on what happens if the orphan items in collections worldwide are dissolved within societies. This is a speculative study based on extensive desktop research on the modes of usage in museum collections management and collections mobility amidst the state of emergency in museums’ environment. In this paper, I explore how a shift toward usership instead of authorship and ownership means to orphan collections. Through feminist theory, I argue that concepts such as usership (Wright, 2013), ethics of care (Agostinho, 2019) and networks of care (Dekker, 2018) promote an expanded notion of accessibility for the institutions, objects, and stakeholders. Collections have through the centuries been influenced by social and political changes. How the times we live in are going to shape the next moves? The Covid-19 pandemic, energy crisis, and Black Lives Matter protests create momentum for reflection and re-thinking. As chances of catastrophic situations conditioned by the energy crisis and other manmade disasters are becoming higher, academic artistic research and art professionals need to dedicate further research into the alternatives to how collections operate, helping to draft new strategies for collecting institutions. The conclusions of the study offer perspectives that recall freedom, imagine other ways of collecting and establish some fresh ground for the unknown times we face. Overall, it contributes to the theorization of modes of usership in relation to museum collections. It puts forward grounds for hope, for institutions themselves and their objects, for stakeholders. Based on this perspective, it’s possible to promote other (new) forms of developing and disseminating collections.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventArt of Research Conference: Authorship and Responsibility - Aalto University, Otaniemi campus, Espoo, Finland
Duration: 3 Dec 20204 Dec 2020
Conference number: 7


ConferenceArt of Research Conference
Abbreviated titleAoR
Internet address


  • modes of usership
  • ethics and networks of care
  • orphan collections
  • counter accumulation
  • museum commons

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