Georgia Louise Smithson

 PhD Doctor of Philosophy



New collecting and distribution models for contemporary art


Thesis Outline.

The research I have undertaken so far is in preparation for the creation of an economic framework or model for collecting and distributing new media art within regional art galleries, as an established model for guidance does not exist in regional England. From the 1960’s artists and practitioners have experimented using computers and innovative technology, and the art-form has evolved into multiple strands of production, presentation and distribution. But, are we facing an uncertain future concerning the integration of new media art into institutional cultural organisations? Recently, concerns have been raised by curators such as Steve Dietz and Christiane Paul regarding the importance of learning how to collect new media art if there is to be any hope of preserving its past. A fear of the unknown of experimental models of curatorial activities such as collecting, preservation and documentation appear to be a barrier to some mainstream, university and municipal galleries when acquisitioning or commissioning new artworks into their collections, while methods of distribution using new media platforms are still at a very experimental stage.

My research questions are: 1) What are the key problems for the practicalities of collecting and distributing contemporary media art? 2) How can regional contemporary art organisations use new economic models for collecting and distributing contemporary media art? My research aims to explore that by research, collaboration, experimentation and the sharing of knowledge and resources, these concerns may be conquered to preserve and make new media art accessible for future generations to enjoy within a regional gallery setting.


Having recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Museum and Gallery studies and experience of working within the museum and gallery sector, I’ve focused on meeting standards of collections management (compliance with SPECTRUM 5) and providing wider access to collections using traditional methods as well as new media and online collections databases or Collections Management Systems. My Masters dissertation questioned the ‘purpose of university art collections in the twenty first century’ which focussed on case studies of collecting institutions with a broad range of art histories. I gained a thorough understanding that all organisations are diverse in their approach to collecting and curatorial practices and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to how an organisation operates and therefore sets out its particular collections development remit, but the purpose of the collection exists for the benefit and education of the public. I was recently employed to steer the application for Arts Council England Accreditation for National Glass Centre and subsequently the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art where I enjoyed partnership working and collaboration, and working with dual organisations with different collections and parallel but distinct histories. I'm currently in the process of locating and collating Documentation on the new media works that belong to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art collection as I will be will charged with programming the artworks that will be exhibited in the Collection Space from January to June 2020. The purpose of this project is to ensure that all curatorial activities (documentation, technical and display instructions, preservation and distribution methods) relating to the display of the artworks are documented for fail-safe future installations.


Research Activities.

I have presented on collections management and my research so far to staff and students involved with Northern Bridge/ Northern Productivity Investment Fund and also the MA Curating students at the University of Sunderland. While researching the collecting, curatorial and distribution practices employed by organisations, institutions and artists dealing with new media art, the data I had collated and assimilated led me to write a paper for submission for the International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA) conference in 2019 which was peer-reviewed and accepted. I presented the paper to an international audience in Gwangju, South Korea, in June 2019 and also assisted with the delivery of a workshop facilitated by Professor Beryl Graham entitled 'Curating the new: Commissioning, exhibiting, collecting', facilitated by my supervisor, Professor Beryl Graham at the same conference. The paper is entitled 'From here to eternity: Experimental and creative approaches to collecting and distributing new media art within regional arts organisations' and can be found in the conference proceedings at:

An edited paper based on the ISEA paper was peer- reviewed for publication in a special issue of the open-access MDPI online Arts Special Issue, Art Curation: Challenges in the digital age, edited by new media art historian, Francesca Franco. It was published in June 2019 and is available at:

I also added the article to Researchgate and as of September 2019, it has had 551 views.

In September 2019 I took part in an experimental, live radio broadcast on Austrian Radio Fro which was part of Ars Electronica curated by artist Shu Lea Cheang entitled Unfinished List which focussed on text-based email listservs that encourage debate within the international new media art community. The broadcast can be found at:

Citations And Presentations.

Presentation, paper and publication: From here to eternity: Experimental and creative approaches to collecting and distributing new media art within regional arts organisations (ISEA 2019 proceedings) Publication: Experimental and creative approaches to collecting and distributing new media art within regional arts organisations (MDPI Open access journal, June 2019).






Georgia Louise Smithson

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Contact Details.

Arts and Creative Industries

Director of Studies.

Professor Beryl Graham