‘Envisioning the Past: Art, Historiography and Public History’

Karen Harvey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This essay considers the role that art and history might play together in public history projects. It discusses public history not in terms of ‘learning lessons’, ‘public debate’ and ‘transferable skills’ but instead in terms of creative thinking in the public sphere. The essay draws upon the author’s experiences of working with artists on a series of exhibitions themed around the history of an arts centre’s late Georgian and Victorian buildings and their inhabitants in Sheffield. It explores the synergies between artistic and historical ways of knowing and argues that collaborations with artists provide an opportunity for academic historians to reengage the imaginative aspects of professional academic history. It also explores the value of art’s expressive power and its potential to pose new questions and suggest new answers for both public and historians’ understanding of the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-543
Number of pages17
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


  • art
  • artists
  • eighteenth century
  • exhibitions
  • impact
  • public engagement
  • public history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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