Professor Suzanne MacLeod

Suzanne MacLeodAs Professor of Museum Studies:

              • I teach across the School’s Masters programmes
              • supervise PhD students
              • work on a variety of research projects with international partners from museums and galleries, design and academia
              • work with RCMG on a strand of research exploring how design can be harnessed towards the social roles and responsibilities of museums and galleries


I joined the School of Museum Studies in 1997 after undertaking a BA in History of Art and Architecture and an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, both at the University of Manchester. Before that, I trained and worked for seven years as a graphic designer.

On arrival in the School in 1997, I worked as a Research Assistant on the development of what was then the new Distance Learning MA in Museum Studies before being appointed to a Lectureship in 1999. Since then, I have undertaken a number of roles in the School including Distance Learning Academic Manager, Deputy Head and, from January 2013 to July 2017, Head of School.

I have developed a series of events and publications which explore contemporary museum design, with a particular focus on design methodologies and the acknowledgement of the potential of design in socially-motivated cultural organisations.

Projects include:

  • an international conference in 2005 entitled Creative Space exploring museum and gallery space as a creative medium
  • an international conference in 2010 entitled Narrative Space exploring exhibition and experience making
  • a conference and design master class series in Taiwan and Hong Kong where major capital developments are generating an urgent interest in museum studies and museum architecture and design (2011)
  • an edited volume with Jonathan Hale and Laura Hanks on the narrative character and potential of museums and museum design Museum Making: Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions (2012)
  • a book exploring museum architecture and the multiple ways in which it is produced through design, through representation and through use Museum Architecture: A New Biography (2013)
  • a project with the Research Centre for Museum and Galleries and Leicester Arts and Museums Service to develop a vision and set of values for New Walk Museum and to begin to visualize the vision in action Establishing a Vision: New Walk Museum and the Story of Leicester
  • a project with Historic Royal Palaces, the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries and Berlin-based museum designers Duncan McCauley on the interpretation of prisoners, punishment and torture at the Tower of London Prisoners, Punishment and Torture: Developing new approaches to interpretation at the Tower of London
  • a project with Imperial War Museum North, RCMG and Duncan McCauley exploring the nature and potential of the museum’s physcial designed forms and media in generating meaningful and on-going visitor experience – Developing IWMN.
  • An international conference on The Future of Museum and Gallery Design in collaboration with a whole range of international partners (conference website)

I studied part-time with the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, whilst working the School and was awarded my PhD in 2012.

In 2015, I was appointed as a member of the University Council for three years.

Beyond the University, I am:

  • Chair of the Board of the online peer reviewed journal Museum and Society
  • an Assessor for the Australian Research Council
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).



In terms of teaching, I contribute sessions and supervise on:

  • museum architecture
  • museum history
  • exhibitions
  • museum design
  • interpretation

I make regular contributions to the teaching materials across our flexible learning programmes and have recently worked to establish a teaching partnership with Hong Kong University.



I supervise PhD students investigating the following topics:

  • Towards a participatory museum architecture – Katerina Vlachaki
  • New Approaches to Exhibition Making in Archives - Peter Lester
  • The Legacy of Feminist Art History - Kate McPhail
  • Museum Master Planning: towards the spatial, strategic and narrative requirements of the museum environment – Tom Duncan
  • The evolution of museum space at the State Historical Museum, Moscow - Anna Mikhailova
  • The design, production and use of museum architecture in Taiwan – Cy Shih (completed)
  • The use of suspense in exhibition narratives – Ariane Karbe
  • World Heritage Sites, collections and the 1972 Convention ‘Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ – Samantha Fabry
  • Victor D’Amico, education and the shaping of Modernism at the Museum of Modern Art, New York – Briley Rasmussen (completed)
  • Contemporary art museums and the global art market – Jennifer Jankauskas (completed)
  • The University art museum and interdisciplinary collaboration- Barbara Rothermel (completed)

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