Dr Tristram Hunt: Colonialism and Collecting

ILAS Global Challenge lecture series

The latest in a series of Global Challenge lectures from the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


'Colonialism and Collecting'


With a collection born of the East India Company and material whose origins stretch across the British Empire, the ethics and practice of restitution is of growing importance to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  In this lecture, historian and V&A Director Dr Tristram Hunt argues that museums should be less concerned about becoming sites of ‘transitional justice,’ adjudicating on the colonial past, and focus more on detailed, trans-national provenance research.  Through biographies of objects with so-called ‘contested heritage,’ Dr Hunt will explain the V&A strategy of Renewable Cultural Partnerships and how museums can engage with, and shape, the coming era of restitution and collections equity between the Global North and South.


Dr Tristram Hunt is the Director of the V&A – the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Since taking up the post in 2017, Dr Hunt has championed design education in UK schools, encouraged debate around the history of the museum’s global collections and overseen the transition to a multi-site museum, with the opening of V&A Dundee, the creation of Young V&A (formerly V&A Museum of Childhood), and the development of V&A East – a new museum and open access collections centre in Stratford, East London. Prior to joining the V&A, Dr Hunt was Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He has a doctorate in Victorian history from Cambridge University, has worked as a Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary University of London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In addition to numerous radio and TV programmes for the BBC and Channel 4, he is the author of several books, including Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014), The Lives of the Objects (2019) telling the story of the V&A collection, and, most recently, The Radical Potter: Josiah Wedgwood and the Transformation of Britain (2021).


This lecture will be available in person as well as online via Microsoft Teams.  For those attending in person, refreshments will be available from 6.00pm onwards.  For those attending online, please register (by no later than 5.00pm on the day of the lecture) and joining instructions with further information will follow ahead of the lecture. 

This lecture is free and all are welcome to attend.

Event date
Event Time
Westminster Theatre, Chancellor's Building and Online via MS Teams
Steve Kilner
Contact email
Contact telephone
01782 7 34449