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Victorian Futures

Culture, democracy and the state on the road to Olympicopolis.

14 - 15 May 2015

The Victorian Futures conference will explore how ideas of cultural democracy are realised through design, architecture, art, material culture and popular culture.

The conference will focus on how the agenda for state-sponsored access to culture and public education in the arts has developed since the Reform Act of 1832 and the Victorian era.

Taking place a week after the 2015 General Election, the conference will show how calls for greater public access to the arts in the 1830s led to the democratic visions of the Great Exhibition and Albertopolis in 1851. These ideas were then reprised in the Festival of Britain in 1951 and are now re-envisioned in plans for the ‘Olympicopolis’ site in London.

As well as discussing the origins of the Victorian dream of public culture and public access to culture and the arts the conference will ask do contemporary re-imaginings of ‘Victorian Futures’ connect with the pre-Victorian dream of cultural democracy?


  • Althea Efunshile, Deputy Chief Executive, Arts Council England
  • Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Greater London Authority
  • Martin Roth, Director, V&A
  • Dr Charles Saumarez Smith, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts
  • Sir John Sorrell CBE

Julia Dudkiewicz, Professor Graeme Evans, Lauren Fried, Michaela Giebelhausen, Zoë Hendon, Dr Jessica Kelly, Lucy Kimbell, Kieran Long, Christopher Marsden, Professor Anne Massey, Professor Catherine Moriarty, Lynda Nead, Mariana Pestana, Professor Malcolm Quinn, Professor Alex Seago, Shibboleth Shechter, Professor Bill Sherman.

Victorian Futures is a collaboration between Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts, Middlesex University and the Victoria and Albert Museum.