There has recently been much interest and attention within King’s College London to the field of museum studies. This is hardly surprising: the university sits within one of the richest and most diverse cultural cities in the world, surrounded by gems such as the British Museum, the National Gallery, the V&A, the Soane Museum and many, many more, large and small, famous and niche. Together with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities’ cutting-edge interdisciplinary research agenda, and there is massive scope for interdisciplinary dialogue about what museums are, and should be, in 2020. However, that interest, and the expertise which drives it, is dispersed across various departments at King’s, and exists way beyond Arts and Humanities. Some, such as that found in CMCI, concerns the social and political effects of museums and how they are shaped by and shape contemporary social, economic and political imperatives. Others, such as DDH, are interested in digital methods for exploring, explaining and present collections. Others still are interested in the managerial aspects of museums. And, others bring specialist technical skills currently applied in other areas, such as imaging, and 3D.
There is, in general, limited knowledge of how this interdisciplinary area might fit together more coherently at King’s. As Museum and Gallery Studies is a strongly interdisciplinary field, with an increasingly important digital component, academics working in this area are effectively dispersed across King’s various departments. As a result, they are often unaware of colleagues within King’s who share similar interests. This situation sharply diminishes the opportunity of internal—research and teaching—collaborations, and significantly weakens the external profile of King’s as a leader in this field.
The project Curating expertise: Towards an Interdisciplinary Museums Studies Research Agenda at KCL will enable us to establish close collaborations between our sister departments, CMCI and DDH, whilst facilitating the establishment of connections with relevant colleagues across King’s.
This is an essential step, we believe, to facilitate future research and teaching collaborations between our departments and within King’s, whilst raising the profile of King’s expertise within this field outside the organisation. It will accomplish this by establishing the foundations of a “Museum Forum/Centre” at King’s through exploring, and capitalizing upon, CMCI and DDH’s overlapping interests in museums, digital heritage and galleries. We will organise a series of internal activities aiming to 1) bring together CCMI and DDH colleagues whose work addresses museums, heritage and galleries to explore their interest in contributing to future teaching and research collaborations; 2) identify relevant colleagues across KCL whose work focuses significantly on museums, digital heritage and galleries through a process of primary desk research undertaken by a student and 3) explore existing overlapping interests in this area of research and teaching during structured activities, via a speed-networking/sharing event; followed by a workshop aiming to define the scope of future collaborations. We will thus facilitate a public debate around the future of museum/gallery university-based interdisciplinary research and teaching at KCL and draw up a concrete plan to facilitate internal collaborations and raise the profile of King’s.
If you are interested in our project and wish to contribute to shaping the future of an interdisciplinary Museum Studies research agenda at King’s, please get in touch (stuart [dot] dunn [at] kcl.ac.uk; serena [dot] iervolino [at] kcl.ac.uk). We would be delighted to hear from you, whether you are a member of the King’s community or a stakeholder from the museum and gallery sector.
Stuart Dunn and Serena Iervolino