Enfilade

Call for Essays | Academic Research and the Contemporary Museum

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 30, 2020

From the Call for Articles:

Academic Research and the Contemporary Museum (working title)
Collection of essays edited by Dr Nicola Pickering, to be published by Routledge

Proposals due by 30 November 2020

This publication intends to re-establish the importance of focused and supported academic object-based research in museum practice and encourage a more robust debate within the museums sector surrounding the requirement and benefits of this work. It aims to reveal how new and creative academic research can be of value to audience-focused outcomes and public engagement work in museums, something that has not received the attention it should have up to now.

In this publication ‘academic research’ will be considered as activity of a scholarly nature, involving in- depth study of museum objects, drawing heavily on the examination of primary and secondary sources, and undertaken by subject-specialists using methodologies drawn from academic disciplines. This book will offer a unique opportunity for readers to see how new academic research can successfully inform visitor-centred practices in museums, and public outcomes for non-specialists, rather than remain the preserve of elitist curators and be produced for limited and privileged audiences.

This book will contain case studies that highlight the value of skilfully and appropriately transferring and translating academic research into public-facing projects and outcomes in the museums sector. Sympathetically integrated into public interpretation and education projects, and astutely linked to contemporary issues, new object-focused and audience-focused academic research can assist in widening access and participation and contribute to museum work in areas such as wellbeing, accessibility, social justice and sustainable funding. Thus, it can complement and bolster visitor-centred approaches, rather than work in opposition to them. It is hoped that the case studies collected in this volume will show that primary research and object-based scholarship in curatorial practice, which focuses on the needs of audiences, as well as collaborations with academics and academic organisations, can enhance the public impact and wider appeal of museums.

Case studies that feature examples of object-focussed research drawing on alternative theories (for example post-colonial, feminist, critical race, post-human and environmental theories) will highlight how museums can reinterpret objects from multiple and new perspectives. This might then show how new, or a wider range of, audiences may then be engaged in the work of the museum through the curatorial, learning, engagement and community projects that draw on this fresh research. Such activity can assist in widening access and participation and contribute to museum work in areas such as wellbeing, accessibility, social justice and sustainable funding.

Case Studies Sought

Case studies—each approximately 5,000-6,000 words—of successful and innovative methodologies, practices and projects in which new and creative academic object-based research has been employed to enhance public-facing outcomes are sought for this publication.

This book aims to discuss the controversies and extend the current debate regarding curatorial approaches. Thus, case studies should discuss new ways of thinking about the role of content specialists or expertise and academic research in museums, and highlight new and creative uses of academic research in collections-based projects. Case studies might be examples of innovative and imaginative undertakings, methodologies and practices, those highlighting the value of transferring and translating academic research into public-facing projects and outcomes in the museums and heritage sector. The case studies will come together to show why this is so important, how to approach such activities, and the benefits of pursuing such projects.

The case studies should help to show how new, or a wider range of, audiences may then be engaged in the work of the museum through the curatorial, learning, engagement and community projects that draw on this fresh research. If possible, the benefits of primary research and content-focussed scholarship to successful measurable outcomes (increased visitor numbers, greater visitor engagement, raised income through commercial activities, sponsorship or grant awards, changes in diversity of audiences) should be highlighted in the case studies.

Case studies that contribute to the current debate surrounding curatorial practice, museum management and public engagement will be positively received.

The necessity of strong partnerships and interdisciplinary working might be highlighted: successful case studies in which academic staff have worked alongside museum staff to achieve innovative outcomes are sought. In doing so it is hoped this publication will assist in showing how scholarly research can be made accessible to the general public in an effective way, and help museum professionals, academics and students to see how this might be done well. Potential ways that external partnerships and internal expertise within museum and heritage organisations might be developed and maintained could be discussed in the case studies.

We are seeking case studies from any country, from a variety of types of museum (national, trust/charity, independent, local authority, university), and it is hoped they will feature a range of collection objects, subject matters, spaces, locations and budgets. Examples from museums outside of the UK and those that have an international dimension or show engagement with source communities from around the world are actively sought.

Your case study must fall into one of the following five categories:
o University museums and academic partnerships with museums.
o Public–privatepartnerships.
o Untold stories (e.g. gender and sexuality / under-represented, disenfranchised and marginalised groups / post-colonial interpretation).
o Retold stores and contemporary issues (e.g. community stories, lost and forgotten stories, audience interest reinvigorated).
o Difficult spaces and projects undertaken on small and restricted budgets (e.g. at local authority museums, independent museums).

The case study chapters will be presented thematically, examining specific research themes as outlined above. The case studies will combine to show the variety of primary, object-focused and academic research that is being undertaken in museums in projects that have visitor-focused outcomes.

Required
• Summary of your proposed contribution (no more than one side of A4).
• A list of any suggested illustrations, tables etc.
• Author CV (and list of previous published material if applicable).

MuseumResearchContributions@gmail.com

Deadline
Midday on Monday, 30th November 2020.

More information is available here.
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