Background and developments

HiCSA was founded ein 2006 from a merger of host teams and its structure was initially made up of components that corresponded to the traditional division of university art history into fields that were chronological or based on specialisations in the medium of study (architecture, film, conservation of cultural goods, etc.). In 2010 a move was made to restructure our activity thematically, corresponding to the emerging identity of our host team. This first step was officially evaluated in 2012. Since then substantial work has been done to complete this structuring by cross-cutting themes. Funding criteria have been defined and adopted for projects submitted by HiCSA members, encouraging shared research and comparison of methods. The considerable contribution of the close links formed between HiCSA and Labex CAP, involving 24 institutional partners with 360 lecturer- researchers, researchers and heritage and library conservators, has been the creation of a real corporate culture both for projects requiring a community of researchers and for the practice of disciplinary comparison. This combination continues to contribute in great measure to making our research centre a major player in art history research with respect to the heritage and museum community.

Currently HiCSA is quite clearly a consistent research structure. In the last five years our organisational structure has been clarified, and the structuring of our practice and research around diachronic themes has become the centre’s backbone. These themes were recently reformulated during the collective preparation for this self-evaluation, and the exercise demonstrated two achievements: the good fit between this structure, our formulations and the concrete reality of our scholarly practices and relations; and the organic link between these themes, which, far from reproducing the old synchronic dichotomies, make possible a proper cartography of the territories we address and encourage researchers to circulate among the various topics of interest.

The simplification of our organisation has enabled HiCSA to strengthen our existing firm links with the international research community both institutionally (partnerships with research centres in Europe, North and South America) and in terms of research areas, for example in Asia and Africa. These last areas now occupy a major space in our work and have made HiCSA a reference research centre for questions of globalisation and the geopolitics of art. Locally, HiCSA takes a full part in the dynamics of having premises in the Galerie Colbert complex. As mentioned above, being physically close to other research centres has fostered personal and institutional links with such key partners as INP and INHA. The re-opening of the INHA library in the Labrouste Hall in 2020 helped provide HiCSA with an ideal environment and close access to documentary resources for teaching and research purposes, and also a wealth of sources to be used in the years to come.