Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2009 - 7/31/2009

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Temples of Art in Cities of Industry: Beauty as Social Transformation in England, 1870-1930

FAIN: FT-56899-09

Amy Nicole Woodson-Boulton
Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA 90045-2650)

My manuscript examines the visual culture, politics, and ideas that led Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester to establish art museums in an effort to redeem capitalist society and rectify the moral and physical ugliness of industrialization. I argue that museum supporters promoted art as a means of social reform not in terms of traditional art history or connoisseurship, but because it offered the experience of beauty, which they imagined as a universal language open to even uneducated viewers. Utilizing many previously unused archival materials, my work explores how art museums formed a crucial part of the formation of the modern State, as it took responsibility for the physical and moral well-being of its citizens in the wake of the unprecedented changes of the nineteenth century. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the history of cities, ideas, institutions, and art, this book will speak to scholars and advanced undergraduates interested in the place of art in modern society.

Media Coverage

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Ian Morley
Publication: American Historical Review
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Alisa Boyd
Publication: Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Jan Baetens
Publication: Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences & Technology
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Julie F. Codell
Publication: Journal of Victorian Culture
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Christopher Ferguson
Publication: Victorian Studies
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Publication: Journal of British Studies
Date: 8/2/2016

Book Review (Review)
Publication: museum & society
Date: 8/2/2016

Associated Products

Transformative Beauty: Art Museums in Industrial Britain (Book)
Title: Transformative Beauty: Art Museums in Industrial Britain
Author: Amy Woodson-Boulton
Abstract: Why did British industrial cities build art museums? By exploring the histories of the municipal art museums in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, Transformative Beauty examines the underlying logic of the Victorian art museum movement. These museums attempted to create a space free from the moral and physical ugliness of industrial capitalism. Deeply engaged with the social criticism of John Ruskin, reformers created a new, prominent urban institution, a domesticated public space that not only aimed to provide refuge from the corrosive effects of industrial society but also provided a remarkably unified secular alternative to traditional religion. Woodson-Boulton raises provocative questions about the meaning and use of art in relation to artistic practice, urban development, social justice, education, and class. In today's context of global austerity and shrinking government support of public cultural institutions, this book is a timely consideration of arts policy and purposes in modern society.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Book website at Stanford University Press.
Access Model: Available for purchase in cloth and electronic formats.
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780804778046
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes