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Engaging Research and Collections

  • UCL postgraduate student engagement team 2012, from left to right: Felicity Winkley, Suzanne Harvey, Sarah Chaney, Tzu-i Liao, Alicia Thornton, Lisa Plotkin and Gemma Angel.

  • Tzu-I speaks to visitors at the Art Museum during our Landscape Event.

  • Sarah talking to a visitor in front of the Jeremy Bentham auto-icon.

  • Niall engages visitors at the Grant Museum during our Landscape Event.

 

Welcome to the UCL Postgraduate Student Engagement project website. Beginning in February 2012, our small team of 8 researchers was established as part of an experimental project to broaden public engagement with UCL research and collections, and to develop audience participation across the museums. Working principally with The Grant Museum, The Petrie Museum and UCL Art Museum, our aim is to develop new public engagement models through interaction with audiences in these spaces. Following a very successful first year, the project has expanded to take on 5 new team members, as of February 2013.

Who are we?

We are a group of seven postgraduate research students, employed by UCL Public Engagement and Museums to develop innovative and experimental engagement strategies in UCL museums and collections. Our aim is to broaden public awareness of current research by sharing our knowledge with museum audiences, making connections between our own areas of expertise and UCL collections. Coming from a diverse range of disciplines, our individual areas of interest are wide-ranging, and our day-to-day research activities cover a variety of methods from archive research, object-based work and historiography; to ethnography, scientific fieldwork and data analysis. As a group, we share a common desire to bring our research to new audiences, and to make what we do accessible to the wider public. Working as a cross-disciplinary team, we also seek to establish links between our own disciplinary fields and other, apparently unconnected research areas.

What are we doing?

When we’re not working on our PhD theses, we can be found at one of UCL’s three public museums. We aim to use these sites as spaces where we can actively engage with visitors to discuss our own research and any connections between our work and the museum collections. Whilst some of our academic interests may not seem to have obvious links to the museum collections, we have all found objects and themes in the museums which are relevant to our research. Through our conversations with museum visitors, we hope not only to engage others in our research and encourage visitors to think about the collections in novel and varied ways, but also to broaden our own research expertise by responding reflexively to public feedback. Open-ended discussions with visitors may stimulate ideas for new lines of research inquiry, and the questions we encounter will often spark off interesting ideas and challenge us to explore unexpected links. This blog documents some of these experiences, as well as providing a platform for us to share our research reflections and further explore the intersections of research, public engagement and museum collections.

Get in touch

If you spot one of us in the museums please do approach us for a chat!

Follow us on Twitter: @ResearchEngager

Or email our team coordinator at lisa.plotkin.10@ucl.ac.uk