This is a new program for the summer of 2022 : it is a practical field study of museums, their social, institutional and physical architectures…and of London.

It runs from 16th May through 10th June.


Helen Evenden and Gavin Hogben will lead the program.

Helen has long experience as an architectural historian and museum curator, teaching at London’s Royal College of Art and for Boston University’s London programs. She specialises in design history and in all things automotive.

Gavin Hogben is a practicing architect, a long-time design teacher at YSoA, Cambridge University and RISD’s DM+ digital media program. He is also a researcher on the intersection of Mobiles and Museums.

Both are Londoners, and both are collaborators in YSoA’s futureNOMAD studio exhibit for the 2022 MOTION : Automobiles, Art and Architecture show at the the Guggenheim Bilbao.


The program will focus on the evolution and on early C21 transformations of the canonic Enlightenment museum as a site and structure for cultural construction and transmission.

London - as capital city of a one-time leading mercantilist and colonialist economy - is well endowed with influential examples of museum constructions and their role in projecting the identity of the modern city. The C19 Victorian era might be thought of as the time when museums - and railway sheds - displaced the cathedral as the grand project. A new London - reshaped by the late C20 globalization of finance and travel - has seen a rapid expansion of museum constructions that extend and adapt the traditional Enlightenment model, but it also has spawned a new generation of upstart venues that challenge the unitary, univocal, universalist ambitions of the established institutions. The new generation is more diverse in its goals, its structures and its dynamics, and is more attentive to the local, the transient and the digital. The stone front of the museum as cathedral now is challenged by pop-up cultural productions and venues.

The London program will explore both the traditional and the digital era models. Albertopolis, London’s museum quarter constructed from the legacies of the 1851 Great Exhibition, and the Victoria and Albert Museum will anchor the exploration of the traditional model as it adapts to the C21.

The roots of the museum quarter in the influential work of Smirke and Soane will introduce the duelling tendencies in museum construction between the ad hoc acts of a collector and the programmed actions of a curator - a tension exampled in the contrast between Soane’s own museum, as the home site of his lifetime of collecting, and his Dulwich Picture Gallery, purpose-built for the commemoration after death of Francis Bourgeois through the public display of his collections.

If the Dulwich gallery points forward to the institutional curatorial framework of the museum type, the Soane museum links us with the inspirational eccentricities of the collector and the entrepreneurial role of individuals and communities - a simple distinction might be made between constructing palaces for classical culture and homes for popular cultures, between the professional and the amateur relation to artifacts, collections, displays and visitors.

The program will explore a wide range of traditional and non-traditional museums, collections, and meet curators and collectors. It will span museums for arts, sciences, technologies, crafts and localities - with missions ranging from the archival to the education and entertainment.

Side trips to Cambridge and to Oxford will explore the forms of the ‘university’ museum as well as a number of archaeological sites and country houses, where the artifact is the museum.


The program will include talks, walks and visits - and will introduce leading culture observers, curators and museum architects.

Generally, it will meet 3 times each week for programmed talks, visits and presentations - including some evenings.

Outside of these meetings, there will be self-directed individual and group study assignments.

Any additional weekend activities and/or trips will be optional.


The goal of the program is to show the dynamics of museum architectures and to emphasize the experiences of all those who formally and informally engage with collections, structures and venues. Put simply, the aim is to sideline the usage of museum as static noun and present the alternative construct of museum as dynamic verb - ‘to museum (v. trans. & intrans.)’.

The assignments reflect this orientation towards performance, action, experience and narration - and focus on dynamic media.

Each individual will develop, organize, display and narrate a collection of their choosing.

This will be an act of design, but the emphasis will be on the interaction of artifacts, places and people as captured and presented with living media - specifically, developing a ‘museuming’ blog throughout the time in London. This will be the basis for each individual to contribute a segment to a publishable collective podcast - a ‘Museuming London’ show.

This approach respects the architect’s urge to comprehend experience through acts of design and recognizes that the design tools available on a field trip must differ from those foregrounded when work is made ‘back in the studio’.

This is an age of mobile phones and peer-to-peer reportage - we propose an exploration of museums and London through this C21 lens.

All Semesters

Summer 2024
Helen Evenden, Gavin Hogben
Summer 2023
Gavin Hogben, Helen Evenden