The 35th Association of Art Historians conference is coming to Manchester Metropolitan University!

The 35th Association of Art Historians conference is coming to Manchester Metropolitan University!

Posted by Manchester University Press - Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009


By Patricia Allmer, Conference Convener

Five hundred international scholars of art history and related disciplines will attend the conference, which runs from April 2 – April 4 2009.

Since 1974, the Association of Art Historians (AAH) has been the national organisation for professional art and design historians, researchers and students involved in education, galleries, museums and art-related publishing, or any other activity linked with art and design history. It supports, fosters and promotes the study of art.

I’m honoured to be the convener of the 2009 AAH conference – one of the most important annual arts events worldwide. It is hosted by MIRIAD, the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design (, at MMU. We have chosen ‘Intersections’ as a thematic focus, as it characterises the AAH09 conference as constituting a wide range of collaborations, and reflects Manchester itself, a place of cultural diversity and intersections.

This annual conference is one of the rare chances for scholars to experience a thorough overview of new, cutting-edge research, and to be able to update on current publications by talking to representatives from twenty Anglophone leading publishers at the bookfair.

It is an opportunity to spend a couple of days fully focused on art – immersing oneself in three days of talks and events is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying sides of the AAH conference. It is also the one moment of the year where we can catch up on and spend some time with colleagues and friends, and also meet new people.

The AAH09 will be accompanied by a variety of exciting and stimulating events which will involve talks by leading scholars in dramatic Manchester settings. The opening keynote will be given by Professor Marsha Meskimmon (Loughborough University) and the closing keynote will be given by Professor Ernst van Alphen (Leiden University).

I’m particularly thrilled about the extent to which Manchester institutions and organisations are supporting the AAH09. The conference is a huge, communal effort between these institutions.

Manchester University Press are the sponsors of the opening keynote which will be held at Manchester’s breathtaking Town Hall. This will be followed by a Reception at Manchester Art Gallery where delegates will be free to roam the current exhibitions.

Delegates will be able to attend exclusive viewings of a number of exhibitions. The opening of the State Legacy exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, at MMU’s Holden Gallery and Cornerhouse, has been timed to coincide with the AAH09. A Reception will be held at Whitworth Art Gallery, which will include a viewing of the Subversive Spaces: Surrealism and Contemporary Art exhibition. Both events will be accompanied by curatorial talks.

The AAH09 is a particularly significant event for students in all art-related fields. It is an opportunity for students to join the dynamic AAH Student Members Committee (SMC), which organises a number of activities to help members get a head-start in the job market. The AAH conferences and the SMC are also the first stepping-stones for students for meeting future colleagues and friends in the fields of art.

We have therefore particularly focused aspects of the conference on students and employability and have organised, together with MMU’s Careers Services, an informal Careers Fair. This will allow students an opportunity to chat to and meet representatives from leading local institutions and arts-related institutions and organisations including MUP, the BBC, Arts about Manchester, Manchester City Council.

Under- and postgraduate students will be able to explore a wide range of different, arts-related jobs, ranging from publishing, print journalism, gallery work, volunteering and special collections to business start-up, community arts and public sector arts. The Careers Fair will enable students to experience a wide range of career opportunities in the arts.

I’m keenly awaiting the opening of the conference, the culmination of months of hard work. My co-organiser Cheryl Platt and I are looking forward to meeting all the delegates and hearing the fruits of their research.

If you’d like to attend AAH09, please visit:

Booking deadline is 13 March 2009.

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