CSDA Sundays: Expert Series - The Psychology of Collecting

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CSDA Sundays: Expert Series - The Psychology of Collecting

The Psychology of Collecting

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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Mobile eTicket

As part of the ongoing CSDA SUNDAYS: The Expert Series, the question of what has been called the "psychology of collecting" will be considered. Dr. Michael Prokopow will be in conversation with Nicholas Bell, president and CEO of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary; Peter Gorham, an educator and collector in Fredericton N.B.; and Susan Golets, who, as a young adult, observed her parents assemble renowned collections of Kakiemon and Kakiemon-inspired European porcelains (which, it is important to note, are being donated to the Gardiner Museum in Toronto). The experiences of these individuals – personal and institutional – will illustrate the array of motivations often tied to collecting, including the search for objects as exercises in stewardship, self-fashioning connoisseurship, social history, aesthetics and taste preference.

Please join Michael, Nicholas, Peter and Susan as they explore the resonant question of what motivates people to collect.

Image above: Spode teacup (no saucer), pattern 2117, circa 1815, found at Value Value (photo credit Michael Prokopow) and folk art cat, found in Fredricton, NB thrift store (photo credit Nicolas Bell.)


Professor Michael Prokopow is a faculty member at OCAD University in Toronto and a self-confessed aficionado of charity shops and flea markets. Recently he has been looking into his cupboards to find objects to photograph and discuss on Instagram. As a collector himself, Michael is also considering with the psychology of relinquishment, i.e., letting things go.

Nicholas R. Bell is President & CEO of Alberta's Glenbow Museum, which is currently undergoing a $175 million transformation. Having trained at the University of Delaware's distinguished graduate program in material culture and then taking up the role of Curator-in-Charge at the Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art Museum where he mounted acclaimed exhibitions on contemporary art and design and then serving as the Senior Vice President for Curatorial Affairs at the Mystic Seaport Museum where he broadened the exhibitionary mission of the institution in critically important ways, Nicholas interest in collections - institutional and individual, turns on his ceaseless fascination with the idea of things as solutions to problems. For Nicholas, collecting is always an act of documentation and collected things are always portals to shared pasts.

A renowned and innovative educator, accomplished artist and gardener, Peter Gorham's engagements with the world of objects are informed by his deep interests in the origins of material, forms and aesthetics of things and what is best described as his sensitivities to their social and cultural implications. His collecting interests are varied from Indigenous objects, the furniture of settler / colonial New Brunswick and modern craft and design. Possessed of a remarkable eye, Peter's ability to "see" has resulted in his making of a home filled with striking objects, each of which invites conversation and reflection.

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Image: Mason's Ironstone Hydra Jug, 1813-1830. Photo credit: Peter Gorham.