Since the Centre was first established in 1999 by Professor Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, we have carried out wide ranging research projects that engage with – and have had considerable impact upon – contemporary policy and practice internationally. The Centre’s position within the School of Museum Studies enables us to draw upon and, in turn, to contribute to cutting-edge conceptual research that underpins and feeds directly into the School’s postgraduate training and research programmes and its professional development activities. RCMG was at the heart of the submission of the most recent UK wide Research Assessment Exercise which, in 2008, found that the School of Museum Studies was home to the highest proportion of world leading research in any discipline in any UK University.
Purpose - To carry out research that can inform and enhance museum thinking and practice; that can contribute to policy and professional debates internationally on wide ranging cultural, educational, political and social issues; and can make significant new contributions to knowledge in the field of museum studies and cognate disciplines – are key aims for RCMG.
Approach - The Centre increasingly develops collaborative research projects with partners in the museum and gallery sector, other higher education institutions and cultural organisations in the UK and internationally. Research questions and methods are often jointly conceived and honed with museum partners and other cultural organisations. Rich, research-based collaborations emerge from this process, enabling RCMG to produce and disseminate findings that directly shape museum thinking and practice. Some projects have not only transformed museums but significantly impacted upon their audiences.
Our research is team-based and we design projects using the most appropriate methods for the context. We often deploy mixed methods approaches but specialise in qualitative research, including action research. We have particular experience in capturing, analysing and interpreting visitors’ and participants’ perspectives, experiences and voices.
Focus- The Centre initiates and leads its own research projects – and also carries out commissioned research – around an interlinked set of research interests, expertise and agendas including museums’ social purpose and agency; learning and communication; community and audience engagement; participatory practice; culture and human rights; and engagement with contemporary social issues.
We work with a range of organisations including museums, galleries, libraries, archives, and botanic gardens. Research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council; European Union; Wellcome Trust; Arts Council England; Heritage Lottery Fund; National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts; individual national and regional museums; government departments and strategic bodies.
Vision - The vision for RCMG is to continue to carry out research that can inform and enrich creative museum thinking, policy and practice. In the next 10 years we will further develop our collaborative practice and continue to extend our partnerships internationally to support museums to become more dynamic, socially purposeful institutions.
Find out about Research teams.