Publications

Monograph

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2014. Museum Representations of Maoist China: from Cultural Revolution to Commie Kitsch. Ashgate.

This book brings together significant first-hand research that highlights a specific and unique period of collecting along with a highly significant political moment of history in China. It brings out debates about collecting practices, curatorship and British “China hands” in an intelligent, thoughtful way which is highly readable. It is a fascinating insight into a very specific relationship that links to broader issues of exhibiting, knowledge production and China-West relations and the politics and power structures of cultural institutions.
Katie Hill, Sotheby’s Institute of Art and OCCA, Office of Contemporary Chinese Art, Oxford, UK

The whole text, and especially the latter half, is illuminated by the author’s familiarity with and enthusiasm for her subject and benefits enormously from conversations and correspondence between the author and some of the “major players” in the field. For the outsider there are some fascinating behind-the-scenes insights into the poetics of institutional collection and display. I very much enjoyed this well-written and highly informative book, and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone with an interest in the display of contemporary culture and history.
Clint Twist, maozhang.net 

This book is an important and engagingly passionate analysis, full of first-hand research with collectors, curators, old China hands, and key museum staff. It gives an invaluable insight into the institutional politics of key British knowledge institutions. It also adds to a growing and healthy re-consideration of the value of the extraordinary creative output of the Cultural Revolution itself, still often viewed as arid propaganda material from an ideological desert. Amy Jane Barnes’ fascinating examination of how contemporary history is presented, and how complex visual cultural material is collected and curated, is an original and rewarding contribution to visual studies, museum practices and to contemporary China studies.
Martin Mulloy, Visual Studies, 2015.

Barnes’ book is a great achievement… the book as a whole is a major contribution both to the study of the limited tunnel vision of China’s “fellow travelers,” of how they were handled, and of how they were able to contribute to a “mind shift” at home, bringing about the introduction of Maoist iconography into the halls of British museum collections and art exhibits.
Magnus Fiskesjö, Museum Anthropology Review, 2015.

For more details, see the Ashgate website.

Edited volumes

Dudley, Sandra, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov and Jennifer Walklate (eds). 2012. Narrating Objects: Collecting Stories. London: Routledge.

Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories is a wide-ranging collection of essays exploring the stories that can be told by and about objects and those who choose to collect them. Examining objects and collecting in different historical, social and institutional contexts, an international, interdisciplinary group of authors consider the meanings and values with which objects are imputed and the processes and implications of collecting. This includes considering the entanglement of objects and collectors in webs of social relations, value and change, object biographies and the sometimes conflicting stories that things come to represent, and the strategies used to reconstruct and retell the narratives of objects. The book includes considerations of individual and groups of objects, such as domestic interiors, novelty tea-pots, Scottish stone monuments, African ironworking, a postcolonial painting and memorials to those killed on the roads in Australia. It also contains chapters dealing with particular collectors – including Charles Bell and Beatrix Potter – and representational techniques.

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Dudley, Sandra, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov and Jennifer Walklate (eds). 2011. The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation. London: Routledge.

The Thing about Museums constitutes a unique, highly diverse collection of essays unprecedented in existing books in either museum and heritage studies or material culture studies. Taking varied perspectives and presenting a range of case studies, the chapters all address objects in the context of museums, galleries and/or the heritage sector more broadly. Specifically, the book deals with how objects are constructed in museums, the ways in which visitors may directly experience those objects, how objects are utilised within particular representational strategies and forms, and the challenges and opportunities presented by using objects to communicate difficult and contested matters. Topics and approaches examined in the book are diverse, but include the objectification of natural history specimens and museum registers; materiality, immateriality, transience and absence; subject/object boundaries; sensory, phenomenological perspectives; the museumisation of objects and collections; and the dangers inherent in assuming that objects, interpretation and heritage are ‘good’ for us.

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Knell, Simon, Peter Aronsson, Arne Bugge Amundsen, Amy Jane Barnes, Stuart Burch, Jennifer Carter, Viviane Gosselin, Sally Hughes and Alan Kirwan (eds). 2010. National Museums: new studies from around the world. London: Routledge.

National Museums is the first book to explore the national museum as a cultural institution in a range of contrasting national contexts. Composed of new studies of countries that rarely make a showing in the English-language studies of museums, this book reveals how these national museums have been used to create a sense of national self, place the nation in the arts, deal with the consequences of political change, remake difficult pasts, and confront those issues of nationalism, ethnicity and multiculturalism which have come to the fore in national politics in recent decades.

National Museums combines research from both leading and new researchers in the fields of history, museum studies, cultural studies, sociology, history of art, media studies, science and technology studies, and anthropology. It is an interrogation of the origins, purpose, organisation, politics, narratives and philosophies of national museums.

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Book chapters

Hyde, Colin and Amy Jane Barnes. 2016. ‘Displaying Ghost Signs Online’. In Schutt, Roberts and White (eds). Advertising and Public Memory: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghost Signs. London: Routledge.

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2011. ‘Displaying the Communist Other: Perspectives on the Exhibition and Interpretation of Communist Visual Culture’. In Dudley, Sandra, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov and Jennifer Walklate (eds). The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation. Routledge.

Barnes Amy Jane. 2010. ‘Exhibiting China in London’. In Knell, Simon, Peter Aronsson, Arne Bugge Amundsen, Amy Jane Barnes, Stuart Burch, Jennifer Carter, Viviane Gosselin, Sally Hughes and Alan Kirwan (eds.). National Museums: new studies from around the world. London: Routledge.

Barnes, Amy. 2002. ‘Catalogue Entries’. In Pierson, Stacey (ed). Qingbai Ware: Chinese Porcelain of the Song and Yuan Dynasties. London: Percival David Foundation.

Edited journals

Barnes, Amy Jane, Anna Chrusciel, Mette Houlberg-Rung, Jeong-eun Lee, Christina Lleras, Jeremy Ottevanger, Anna Woodham (eds.). 2008. Museological Review, 13.

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Journal articles

Barnes, Amy Jane and Malika Kraamer. 2015.’Japanese Saris: Dress, Globalisation and Multiple Migrants’. In Textile History (November). Maney.

In this article, which is based on research in Leicester and Nairobi undertaken for the Cultural Olympiad exhibition Suits and Saris (New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, 2012), we examine the phenomenon of Japanese saris — fashion-forward synthetic saris manufactured in Japan — and Leicester sari shop owners’ role in their design and popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s. We use this previously untold story to explore transnational identities as manifested through cultures of dress. We investigate the transnational space in which these saris were produced and used, and we focus in particular on the multiple migrant experiences of East African Asians, many of whom emigrated to Britain during the late 1960s and 1970s. We argue that the truly global phenomenon of Japanese saris would not have been possible without the transnational and multiple migrant nature of the South Asian diaspora.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2014. ‘Introduction: Forum on Health and Wellbeing in Museums and Galleries’. In Museum Worlds, 2.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2012. ‘A Trojan Horse? An icon of the anti-establishment at the Victoria & Albert Museum’. In Museum and Society, 10 (2), 69-80.

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Barnes, Amy. 2003. ‘China in Britain: The representation of twentieth-century Chinese art and culture in contemporary British museums.’ In Museological Review, 9.

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Other articles

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2014. ‘What makes a good museum? The Art Fund knows’. The Conversation. 11 July.

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Unpublished PhD thesis

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2009. From Revolution to Commie Kitsch: (Re)-presenting China in Contemporary British Museums through the Visual Culture of the Cultural Revolution. University of Leicester.

To date, the study of communist visual culture in the museum environment has been limited. While interest in revolutionary art continues to develop thanks to its twenty-first century appropriation and ‘kitschification’ in Western contexts, communist art remains problematic. Taking Saidian discourse as a theoretical starting point, this thesis explores the collection, interpretation and display of the visual culture of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in contemporary British museums. It explores the image of China in the popular consciousness and looks for intersections between the contemporary political Sino-British relationship and interpretive approaches to this material. The historiographical survey analyses contemporary primary sources to reveal images of the Cultural Revolution during three periods which correspond with mind shifts in the British response to China. Interviews with key members of curatorial staff situate the thesis in contemporary practice. The thesis is divided into three sections. The first, the ‘pre-historical’ context to the main body of the thesis establishes a methodological approach, theoretical grounding and surveys the Sino-British relationship from the Enlightenment to the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Section 2 looks at the contemporary British response to the Cultural Revolution and how these visions of China were translated into exhibitionary practice. Section 3 explores the collections and practice of three case studies. It examines the different and diverse reasons for the establishment of these collections and how they have interpreted (as art, artefact or document). The thesis concludes with the argument that museums and collecting institutions have a key role to play in the difficult debate which envelopes the West’s historical response to communism and the legacy of the Cultural Revolution, in the light of challenges to the grand narrative.

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Reports

Parry, Ross and Amy Jane Barnes. 2010. Proposed research strands, projects and intellectual framework: consultative report for Tate Research Centre, the Art Museum and its Future. University of Leicester.

Exhibition catalogues

Pierson, Stacey with Barnes, Amy. 2002. A Collector’s Vision: Ceramics for the Qianlong Emperor. London: Percival David Foundation.

Book reviews

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2013. ‘Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie’ by Sam Roberts. In Modern Art Asia. Issue 15, August.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2012. ‘Grand Designs: Labor, Empire, and Museum in Victorian Culture’ by Lara Kriegel. In Museum and Society, 10 (1), 60-61.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2010. ‘The Comfort of Things’ by Daniel Miller. In Museological Review, 14.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2009. ‘Championing the twentieth-century Chinese artist’. In Art History, 32 (3).

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2009. ‘Bushell, Yetts and the mystery of the missing photographer: A Curatorial detective story’. In Art History., 32 (3).

Barnes, Amy. 2005. ‘Chinese Silk’ by Shelagh Vainker. In Journal of Museum Ethnography.

Exhibition Reviews

Barnes, Amy. 2016. ‘The Portland Collection, Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire’. Museums Journal, May 2016: 44-47.

Barnes, Amy Jane. 2012. ‘The Spirit of Striving for Happiness in Hard Times, Song Dong: Waste Not, Barbican Art Gallery, London’. Modern Art Asia, Issue 11, August.

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Barnes, Amy Jane. 2012. ‘Rashid Rana, Everything is Happening at Once, New Art Exchange, Nottingham’.  Modern Art Asia. Issue 9, March.

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