How are experimental spaces institutionalised within cultural organisations? Where do spaces for making and hacking come from? Join us for a public talk with Kat Braybrooke (University of Sussex). Hacking the museum? Collections makerspaces in London cultural institutions – Kat Braybrooke (University of Sussex) What kinds of spaces are produced when the radical practices of once-rebellious digital subcultures, like those of hackers and makers, are institutionalised? This talk examines the recent phenomenon of ‘collections makerspaces’, or public sites in cultural institutions that offer free suites of creative tools aimed at inspiring new interactions with artefacts and collections through hands-on making practices. We will begin by locating these sites within a wider history of sociotechnical transformation amongst museums and shared machine shops (from hackspaces to media labs) in Britain since the 1970s, a negotiation that has become increasingly dominated by institutional and corporate collaborations. We will then explore findings from a year-long ethnography of three different kinds of collections makerspaces at Tate, British Museum and Wellcome Collection in London, taking a look at how the ‘space’ of each site is continually produced by its social relations and imaginaries. In conclusion, it will be argued that the collections makerspace is emerging (but at the same time, also dissolving) as a key locus of critical institutional inquiry, where the hegemonic traditions of museums in Britain can be examined, contested and possibly even transformed.


Bio: Kat Braybrooke (@codekat) is a sociotechnical researcher and critical maker whose work explores the politics of creative digital practices, institutions and communities. She is currently completing her doctoral thesis with the University of Sussex Humanities Lab, and received a MSc Digital Anthropology from University College London in 2013 for an ethnography of gender and identity concerns amongst 30 young hackers in Europe. Before her current research, Kat spent a decade working with cause-based organisations like Mozilla, the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue to help digital consumers become producers through implementations of open technologies, and she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Peer Production.
This event is part of an ongoing seminar series on “critical inquiry with and about the digital” hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh. If you’d like to get notifications of future events you can sign up to this mailing list.



Date and time

Wed 8th May 2019 16:30-18:00 BST


S-2.18, Strand Building
Strand Campus, King’s College London

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