Creating Successful Interiors: Interpretation, Audiences and Authenticity 

17th January 2019
in Events, news

A one-day, interdisciplinary conference exploring how historic house museums present and interpret interior spaces for contemporary museum visitors, and what they might learn from other industries.

Presented by Jane Austen’s House Museum in partnership with The Charleston Trust
Monday 4 March, 2019

10:00am to 4:30pm

£30 adults/£20 students

Venue: Charleston, Firle, East Sussex

Join us for an exciting day of talks and discussion, presented by two of the South East’s great house museums: Jane Austen’s House Museum and Charleston.

Historic house museums, entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the former homes of artists, writers and musicians, face a particular set of challenges. They are expected to present the stories of the people that lived there, providing a connection with their world, possessions and personality; whilst also providing a high quality, enjoyable visitor experience for a wide range of visitors. The presentation of their interior spaces plays a critical role in achieving this successfully.

Charleston, the only surviving example of a whole Bloomsbury painted interior, provides the perfect backdrop to this special partnership conference exploring how different organisations choose to approach interiors, dress their rooms, and create a sense of atmosphere in these special spaces. The day will explore the creative opportunities and challenges faced by small museums when undertaking the reinterpretation of spaces and interior dressing projects and examine some of the ways in which these can be tackled by learning from those working within the museum sector and in the wider creative industries.

Speakers include:

Grant Montgomery, Production Designer for film and television including Peaky Blinders, Birdsong and To Walk Invisible. 

John Williams, Project Manager for the redevelopment of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Dr Mary Guyatt, Director at Jane Austen’s House Museum

Dr Darren Clarke, Rausing Head of Collections, Research and Exhibitions at the Charleston Trust

David Milne, Curator at Dennis Severs’ House

PLB Projects Ltd

Full programme to be confirmed in due course. Please note the programme may be subject to change. 

This conference is suitable for museum and creative professionals, students and also the general public interested in finding out more about what happens behind the scenes in museums.

Lunch and a 30 minute Charleston house tour are included in the ticket price.

We will also be providing a free shuttlebus service from Lewes train station to Charleston for delegates who wish to travel by train.

About the Partners

Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, is the house where Jane Austen lived and wrote. It is the most treasured Austen site in the world. It was here that Jane’s genius flourished and where she wrote, revised and had published all her major works: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

The Museum holds an important collection of objects associated with Jane Austen, including letters written by Jane and personal effects belonging to her and her family. Particular highlights include her jewellery and the table at which she wrote her much loved novels.

Charleston, the former home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, is nestled within the South Downs. Vanessa Bell’s sister, the writer Virginia Woolf, was a regular visitor to Charleston – and a great admirer of Jane Austen. Duncan Grant enjoyed reading Jane Austen’s novels and featured the author on his Famous Women Dinner Service, a commission for Kenneth Clark in 1932. The Bloomsbury group were well-known for their experimental approaches to art and life, believing in free debate, discussion and creativity, as can be seen on the brightly painted interiors of the house.

​Please note: This conference is being hosted in partnership with the Charleston Trust and the event will be held in their beautifully renovated barns at Charleston, Firle, near Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6LL.

This event is supported by a generous grant received by Jane Austen’s House Museum under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures scheme.


Mr Thornton is coming to tea

North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell