Distinguished Professor of Humanities, School of Advanced Study

Geoffrey Crossick


Professor Geoffrey Crossick is Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. He was previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of London (2010-12), Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London (2005-10), and Chief Executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Board (2002-05) which he led through its transformation into a full research council.

He was Director of the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project, which was established to explore the benefits of arts and cultural engagement to individuals and society, and the methods by which those can be understood and evidenced. The project’s substantial report was published in 2016.

He has written and spoken extensively in the UK and internationally on higher education and research strategy, on the importance of the arts and humanities, and on the creative and cultural sectors. He is the author of a major report for HEFCE on ‘Monographs and Open Access’ (2015). He is Chair of the Crafts Council, the development agency for contemporary craft, and amongst other roles is a member of the governing Boards of the Courtauld Institute, the Horniman Museum and the National Film & Television School; Chair of the Board of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute of Trinity College Dublin; and a member of the DCMS Science Advisory Council.

Professor Crossick is by academic discipline a historian, and his main area of research has been the urban social history of 19th and 20th century Britain and continental Europe, including work on the petite bourgeoisie of shopkeepers and master artisans. His academic career involved appointments at the Universities of Cambridge, Hull and Essex He has written or edited 7 books and written over 40 articles in learned journals and other collections. He is an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge; Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Courtauld Institute.

Presentation: Thinking about the value of culture, thinking about the value of collections 

The way we discuss the value of arts and culture has come to concentrate on advocacy for public funding and arguments that might resonate with the government of the day. The consequence has been to narrow the areas of value highlighted and the evidence deployed, and has failed to satisfy practitioners in arts and culture. Drawing on the work undertaken for the AHRC Cultural Value Project, this keynote will argue for a broader approach to the forms of cultural experience and the areas of benefit explored, for a more realistic approach to evidence, and a broader set of tools for capturing cultural value. It will reflect on how these conclusions might be helpful for understanding the value of museums, archives, heritage and their collections.