Art historian Anne Higonnet refers to privately founded historic house-museums as ‘personal art collection museums’ because they were always intended to be publicly accessible, hence they are no longer entirely private, even though loosely speaking some were private houses.
House-museums in her opinion are either houses that have been preserved for their historic or architectural importance, or simply because they belonged to a famous person. The waters start to muddy a little when a notable art collection is involved within the house, in which case, the question arises whether the art becomes the distinguishing feature, and not the house itself.
GEORGINA WALKER teaches into the Master of Art Curatorship program at The University of Melbourne. Her PhD thesis, The Private Museum: Contemporary Art Collecting and Philanthropy, investigated the recent growth in international private museums. She is one of a few international scholars who has conducted targeted research into this emerging and growing field.