Information Studies


TaNC research project

The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections

UCL Banner

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded £14.5m to the research and development of emerging technologies, including machine learning and citizen-led archiving, in order to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways. One of the five projects to be funded is The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections

Focusing on the vast collections of Sir Hans Sloane in public institutions, this project will work with expert and interested communities including museum audiences to link the present with the past to allow the links between Sloane's collections and catalogues to be re-established across the Natural History Museum, the British Library, and the British Museum (plus others that have relevant material). The main outcome of the project will be a freely available, online digital lab - the Sloane lab - that will offer researchers, curators and the public new opportunities to search, explore, and engage critically with key
questions about our digital cultural heritage.

The project’s central questions include: How can we make specialist users and members of the public more aware of the contested nature of museum collections? What is the role of digital tools in facilitating discussions on imperialism, colonialism, slavery, loss and destruction, that have shaped the national collection? And who gets to contribute to, and shape, research on how memory institutions can reach across their institutional boundaries, subject-specialties and even countries so as to better support their audiences, visitors and users? Community Fellows will enhance the research, which will later form part of a traveling exhibition.

Principal Investigator: Professor Julianne Nyhan, University College London and TU Darmstadt. Co-Investigators: Dr JD Hill British Museum and Dr Sushma Jansari; Dr Mark Carine Natural History Museum; Dr Andrew Flinn, UCL; Dr Nina Pearlman, UCL; Dr Andreas Vlachidis, UCL

Project partners: British Museum, Natural History Museum, British Library, Historic Environment Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland, Community Archives and Heritage Group, Down County Museum, National Galleries of Scotland, Oxford University Herbaria, Collecting the West project funded by the Australian Research Council & metaphacts.

If you have an interest in the participatory strand of the project, please get in touch with Marco Humble at marco.humbel.17@ucl.ac.uk