Museum, Field, Metropolis, Colony: Practices of Social Governance
Rodney Harrison, Institute of Archaeology; in collaboration with Tony Bennett, University of Western Sydney
and Fiona Cameron, University of Western Sydney (Chief Investigators); Ben Dibley, University of Western
Sydney; Nelia Dias, University of Lisbon; Ira Jacknis, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology/University
of California, Berkeley; and Conal McCarthy, Victoria University of Wellington.
Endangerment and Its Consequences: Documenting and Preserving Nature
and Culture Working Group, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Rodney Harrison, Institute of Archaeology; project directed by Fernando Vidal, MPI/Centre for the History of Science, Autonoma University of Barcelona; and Nelia Dias, University of Lisbon.
PhD Candidate in Anthropology
Heritage in hospitals
Dr Helen Chatterjee - Deputy Director, UCL Museums & Collections
Guy Noble - Arts Curator UCLH Arts
Research Associates: Dr Linda Thomson and Erica Ander (UCL Museums & Collections)
Intellectual Transparency and the digital revolution
Curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
Professor Stephen Quirke
UCL Museums and Collections
Cultural Heritage in Sierra Leone
Institute of Archaeology & Department of Anthropology
Digital Craftsmanship: understanding image and mind in the new digital economy
Cultural Encounters and Explorations: Conservation's 'Catch-22'
A research cluster funded by the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme
Encounters of Culture, Heritage and Development in Sierra Leone
Institute of Archaeology
Materials: Ideas: Objects
UCL Museums & Collections
Reader in Comparative Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology
Honorary Research Associate of the Material Culture Group in UCL’s department of anthropology.
Western Solomon Islands War Canoe at the British Museum
under the framework of the Pacific Alternatives: Cultural Heritage and Political Innovation in Oceania
Preservation, Erasure and Representation: Rethinking Intangible Heritage in a Comparative Museum Ethnography
Institute of Archaeology
MPhil/PhD student in the Institute of Archaeology
UCL Centre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies aims to direct research in the following areas.
I) The Future of Museums
This research stream connects two main developments that radically alter our understanding of the possibilities for the museum of the future. On the one hand new technologies and media that make possible many new forms of engagement with the public, and secondly the need for research on the public themselves what they bring to and take from museums.
With respect to the first, we envisage research a) on the way new technologies can facilitate collections management, for example, the identification and analysis of degradation of artefacts, b) and the impact of new technologies on object interpretation including knowledge transfer, well-being and health c) the curating of digital forms, based on the way people now keep texts, emails, archive computer materials and the potential of such digital forms as part of museum collections and display. d) the way the study of popular use of digital media can in turn inform the use of new media in the museum and outside the museum to convey information to audiences.
The second theme based on research in the public domain includes a) extending previous work by the Institute of Archaeology and Material Culture on museum visiting, ideally showing how UCL can offer alternatives to marketing research in assessing the impact of exhibitions on the public. b) fieldwork that recognises that every householder effectively curates the objects of their home, and we need a much better understanding of the processes of object acquisition and disposal, including the relation of objects to memory and how objects help people deal with loss. This leads to a concern with how the ethics of disposal and acquisition in a professional context can respect these domestic relations to artefacts.
II) Cultural Heritage
§ The materialisation of cultural heritage: – archives, collections, sites, landscapes and personal/ family identities. We take up in particular the relation between heritage and memory – both personal and collective – to hinge on the technologies available both at micro /personal and macro-social levels to fix and identify memory work in material and immaterial forms. How these technologies administer a sense of heritage - ranging from new digital technologies in museums/gallery displays and collecting spaces to personal and interpersonal memory-worlds
§ Heritage in conflict and post-conflict societies: – the role of heritage technologies in restoring cultural identities after conflict. This can range from the re-establishment of everyday routines and modes of survival to restoring cultural archives, collections and landscapes on which collective identities need to be re established.
§ Heritage and Performance: - how heritage cultures articulate, constitute and reproduce themselves through the framing, staging and enacting of cultural performances. These can range from drama, dance and music to exhibition openings, curatorial events and festivals. The focus is on intangible heritage and on the cultural production of heritages through the lenses of cultural performance thereby showing how the often monolithic, non-particularising concepts of collective institutional identities fracture and transform.
§ Heritage Dignity: - the focus is upon the relationship of heritage to the question of ‘what it is to be human?’ Here we explore the strategic humanisation of heritage value and the dynamics of heritage as wellbeing, as care/ cure/ curation/ preservation and as bound up in aspirations to sustain a transformed future for self/ self-group. The nature of parallel and alternative heritages and the re-conceptualisation of core heritage ideologies, such as ‘authenticity’ and ‘conservation’ are key features of such research and are part of a larger ethical-philosophical vision of ‘restoring heritage to dignity’.
Heritage and Wellbeing research page
III) Object Analysis
Society is created, maintained and transformed through the production, trade and use of objects, and people express who they are through the things they make, possess and share. In every generation new materials and technologies are developed that continually challenge our understanding of the relationship between humans and artefacts and the biological and social worlds. For all these reasons the collection, classification, analysis and interpretation of the material world is an essential aspect of researching the past, present and future of humanity. But if we are to train future generations of researchers and support a successful global economy, we need to re-think our educational systems to equip us to deal with three dimensional objects – both real and virtual – with far greater sophistication than we currently possess. The university museum offers the ideal laboratory space for approaching these questions of material cognition and their social implications. Our research will lead a new exploration of how object-based learning and the multi-sensual encounter with artefacts can compliment and enhance verbal, textual and digital pedagogies. It will also identify how vital skills of observation and practical techniques can be enhanced and developed at all levels of education and vocational training.
· Object-centred Learning: The need to review our approaches to education and training is urgent. UK educational systems and policies have tended to privilege abstract text-based learning and verbal instruction to the detriment of the development of material skills and productivity. They also disadvantage the tactile material skills of children from diverse cultural backgrounds at a time when the UK stands to benefit considerably from nurturing such skills.
· Artefact Analysis and Cultural Heritage Technologies: UCL has an international reputation for the quality of its artefact studies, conservation and materials analysis, combining social and hard science techniques and interdisciplinary approaches that link across departments from archaeology and anthropology to chemistry and engineering. A recent investment within this area has been UCL’s acquisition of an Aruis 3D laser scanner, this provides the potential for research into the use of 3D models for object analysis and for monitoring decay; for exploring wider issues of materiality and the potential of virtual museum displays and new forms not based on traditional physicality. Our research involves disciplines as diverse as geomatic engineering, computer science, history of art, anthropology, archaeology, museums and collections, museum studies, conservation and art schools.
· Collections and Archives: There is a need for a creative debate about the acquisition, curation, study and disposal of collections and archives in the new millennium. Many museum collections are tragically underused resources which should be at the core of innovative research. Our Centre will help to energise and integrate collections based research across different departments within UCL to share methodological approaches and research outcomes from working on material both within UCL and in other collections. This is in line with the aims of the HEFCE funded Archive Archaeology Project based at the IoA which emphasizing the value of the hands-on study of archives and museum collections for teaching and learning. But, there is also an urgent need for museums to reconsider their collections policies in relation to changes in ethics, research interests and the complexities of modern material culture, the new centre will help to focus these debates and highlight the continuing relevance of museums to 21st century interests.