Events | IMA Event

2010 James White Memorial Lecture

17 November | 12:00 - 13:00

Irish Museums Association

Event Address

National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology 

The IMA 2010 James White Lecture was given by Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, on the subject of 'The Decorative Arts: Why the V&A Collections are so relevant to the 21st Century',  introduced by Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture & Sport and supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

Venue: National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 

Date: Wednesday 17 November 2010

Mark Jones, who is considered a man of "vision, intellect, and energy", became Director of the V&A Museum in 2001. Since then it has seen a remarkable transformation, as 70% of the museum has been renewed with new Medieval and Renaissance, Ceramics, Buddhist Sculpture, Theatre and Performance and Gilbert Collection galleries, along with V&A exhibitions touring worldwide, seen by 1.2 million people outside the UK. Jones background was in the British Museum where he was an Assistant Keeper (1974-1990), then Keeper (1990-1992 of Coins and Medals, having organised ‘The Art of the Medal’ (1979) and ‘Fake? : the Art of Deception’ (1988), exhibitions. As Director of the National Museums of Scotland (1992-2001) he was responsible for the creation of the Museum of Scotland (1998), the National War Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Scottish Country Life. 

The V&A has its origins in a Museum of Manufactures, as it was then known, that was established in 1852, following the success of the Great Exhibition (1851). Its founding principle was ‘to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers’. It moved to its present site in 1857 (renamed as the South Kensington Museum), and in 1899, when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of a new building, it was renamed the ‘Victoria and Albert Museum’, as it is known today

While Henry Cole, the V&A's first director, aspired for the Museum to be a “schoolroom for everyone”, Mark Jones is clear that the decorative arts are at the heart of the V&A Museum: “Essentially we are here to explain the decorative arts. The collections provide us with our opportunities and our purpose. We know people are interested in decoration and they see objects in a sophisticated way. We see this from the way they respond to programmes about décor. They can enjoy and learn more here." Paul Doyle, IMA Chairman, says, “it is an honour to have Sir Mark Jones give the IMA Annual Lecture”.

Speaking at the launch Minister Hanafin said “The Irish Museums Association is an important voice for the museums sector in Ireland and does tremendous work in promoting museums, providing training for professional practice in museum management, collections care and visitor services. There is a great sense of occasion in having the esteemed Mark Jones discuss just why the decorative arts are so relevant in the 21st century”.