The Kate Pretty Lectures

The Kate Pretty Lecture Series honours Dr Kate Pretty CBE, Principal of Homerton College (1991-2013) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (2004-2010), responsible for international strategy, outreach, lifelong learning, and museums and libraries. An archaeologist, Dr Pretty served as President of the Council for British Archaeology from 2008-2013.

The fourth annual Kate Pretty Lecture, Why does a University need an art collection? Making the most of the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge took place on 20 May 2021 and was given by Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Owing to Covid restrictions the lecture was given in virtual form, presented from the museum itself, and attracted over 400 registered attendees.  

How, especially by working with the vast resource of curious minds in Cambridge, can we become a place where people know that there isn’t a single ‘right’ answer; where a nuanced argument doesn’t imply a compromised or evasive one; where, as we make efforts to expand and challenge traditional narratives, it’s made clear that this is not about completely sweeping them away? How do we equip people not only to have thoughtful, inclusive discussions about the objects of the past, but also to understand that the tangled, contradictory histories that these objects embody, the many decisions, impulses, prejudices and assumptions they enshrine, are mirrored in the things we do now?”

Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum


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