Beatrice Blackwood Lecture 2023: Why Museums?

Friday 29 September, 18.00 - 20.00 

Sir Paul Ruddock

Lecture in the Natural History Museum Lecture Theatre, followed by a drinks reception in the Pitt Rivers Museum

Tickets: Members: £10, Non-members: £15

Book your tickets here

NB. This lecture will also be available on Zoom.

Online tickets: Members: £5, Non-members: £7.50

Book your online tickets here.

Sir Paul Ruddock is a trustee of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, New York. He was previously Chairman of the V&A, a Trustee of the Courtauld Trust and Chair of the World War I Cathedral Emergency Repair Panel and Chair of the UK Cathedral and Major Churches Grants Panel. He is Chair of Oxford University's Endowment Management Committee and Investment Committee and a Fellow of Mansfield College.

His talk will describe the origins of the modern museum and their historical role, with a focus in the 19th century on categorisation and documentation along with a growing curiosity about global cultures. Museums today are expected to educate, inspire and entertain but have also become contested spaces, dealing with controversial issues around restitution, colonialism, human remains, sponsorship and climate change.

Museums show the commonality of human achievements and aspirations, as well as their linkage and connections across the globe and across the millennia. They are the custodians of both the history of humanity and also the extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements of civilisations over 6000 years of history, preserving the evidence for future generations to study and understand. In spite of having become a focal point for many of the western world's 21st century anxieties, they provide a counterbalancing sense of stability to transitory fashions and ideas.

Join Sir Paul as he talks about past, present and future museums and their evolving role in society.


British Museum: Trustee 2016-

V&A Museum: Chair 2007-15, Trustee 2002-15, Senior Honorary Research Fellow

Metropolitan Museum, New York: Trustee 2010-, Co-Chair of International Council, Chair of Medieval and Cloisters Visiting Committee

Gilbert Collection: Chair 2009-15

Courtauld Trust: Trustee 2006-8

World War I Cathedral Repairs Expert Panel: Chair 2014-19

Cathedrals and Major Churches Major Works Grant Panel: Chair 2020-1

Oxford University Endowment Management: Chair 2015-

Oxford University Investment Committee: Chair 2015-

Mansfield College, Oxford: Bancroft Fellow

Birmingham University: Doctor of the University

Bowdoin College, Maine: Doctor of Humane Letters

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Montblanc Cultural Patronage Award 2014

Iris Foundation: Outstanding Patron Award 2016

BB Lecture poster