The Constituent Museum. Constellations of Knowledge, Politics and Mediation: A Generator of Social Change

Elinor Morgan (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Morgan’s research into how museums can work differently with publics manifested in the influential publication The Constituent Museum. The first reader to tackle the question of the museum as a collaborative project between audience, artist and museum workers through the lens of iterative and reciprocal relationships, it is extensive and innovative, with 26 entries platforming global theory and practice.

Developed in dialogue with an international network of thinkers, the research has subsequently influenced curatorial theory and museums practice as part of a revision of ‘New Institutionalism’ seen through a renewed focus on discourse around location and the inter-connectedness of a range of museum programmes that are traditionally seen as distinct. From 2015 to 2018 Morgan collaborated with partners in L’Internationale consortium to develop theories and methodologies to address power dynamics within institutions and create new approaches to curating with a range of publics. Her research built on the work of thinkers such as Franco Basaglia, Maria Lind, Nora Sternfeld, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten.

Morgan tested and applied her sustained research through public programmes and exhibitions at MIMA. In 2016 she convened and led a three-day conference at MIMA that shaped research for the publication and resulted in new papers on the topic by 15 leading thinkers. Demonstrating the research’s possibilities, Morgan structured this through innovative formats, with meals, walks and workshops encouraging 60 international attendees to develop new discourse.

The Constituent Museum includes interdisciplinary contributions by international specialists in philosophy, education, social theory, art history and theory. Structured through five sections, the book’s innovative categorising system allows readers to navigate via research interests.

The topic’s prescience was recognised through Morgan’s selection to convene a panel discussion for the 2017 Museums Association Annual Conference (913 attendees) for which she selected and briefed speakers, delivered an introductory paper and chaired the discussion on co-production and restructuring museums practice. In June 2020 Morgan published an opinion piece in The Guardian expanding on her work around constituent relationships and networks of exchange (

This research has significantly impacted on the conceptualisation of institutions within and beyond L’Internationale network. It is cited as a key curatorial text on the Royal College of Art’s Curating MA; Whitworth, University of Manchester, developing a new post ‘Curator (Constituent Museum)’ directly drawing from the research, and the book being cited in academic journals (see Youth Work, Galleries and the Politics of Partnership, Nicola Sim).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages384
ISBN (Print)9789492095428
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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