UCL Museums & Collections research themes

1. Digital Humanities – Digital Humanities research happens at the intersection of digital technologies and humanities. It aims to produce applications and models that make possible new kinds of research, both in the humanities disciplines and in computer science and its allied technologies. It also studies the impact of these techniques on cultural heritage, memory institutions, libraries, archives and digital culture.

2. Heritage, Health and Wellbeing - This theme involves researching the role of museums in improving health and wellbeing; the psychological and physiological benefits of museum object therapy; the role of object handling in improving memory retention, richness and recall; and methods of measuring and evaluating the impact of heritage encounters on health and wellbeing.

3. Object Based Learning and the Student Experience – This theme focusses on the use of museum objects from different types of collection and different disciplinary environments in teaching within and across disciplines at UCL, for research innovation and for the primary goal of enriching the experience of students.

4. Critical Museology – The exploration of contentious subjects relating to collections and curatorship, in particular: the ethics of acquisition, disposal, ownership and use of collections; the role of collections in promoting inclusion and social justice; the relations between academic and community research, and the analysis of potential and problems in university museum support for community research.

3D Colour Laser Scanning Research

UCL Museums and Collections have been awarded a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop a conference and research workshops investigating ‘3D Colour Laser Scanning’ and the potential uses of these technologies in the context of museum object research and conservation, as well as in interpretation and education and in exhibition and display.

E-Curator Research Project

The E-Curator 3D scanning research project is a one-year project currently underway at UCL Museums and Collections. The project aims to apply e-science technologies to museum work and artefact analysis, exploring the potential to capture and share 3D colour data to facilitate object-tracking and condition checking, thus enabling curators and conservators to compare records collected at different institutions andstored remotely, or collected over a period of time under different conditions, in order to assess and monitor change.

Touch Research

During the winter of 2006 and the spring of 2007 UCL Museums & Collections organised a series of workshops investigating touch and value of object handling in museums. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the workshops brought together a diverse range of experts from academic and museum environments, with a view to establishing a network where information relating to the value of object handling can be shared and developed.

Likeness and Facial Recognition Research Network

UCL Museums and Collections have been awarded a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop a series of three interdisciplinary research workshops to investigate Likeness and Facial Recognition. The representation and interpretation of facial appearance is an important area for research in both the humanities and the biomedical and life sciences. These workshops will bring researchers in the arts, humanities, social sciences and life sciences from UCL and other HE institutions together with museum professionals and contemporary artists to investigate the historical context for our understanding of ‘likeness’ in portraiture and medical images of the face, and the potential of new research on facial recognition to inform work in the arts and humanities. The research network will investigate the ways in which digital and surgical techniques are creating new models of ‘likeness’ for the 21st-century, the synergies and dissonances of these models with the historical definitions of ‘likeness’ in portraiture, and the ways that contemporary artists are engaging with these ideas and technologies. In addition to these themes, the workshops will also be used to explore models of communication between researchers from the fine arts, the humanities and the sciences.

Heritage in Hospitals

In 2008, researchers and curators from University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospitals (UCLH) Arts developed a unique programme called 'Heritage in Hospitals: Exploring the potential of museum object handling as an enrichment activity for patients' funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC award number AHG000506/1). Read more about Heritage in Hospitals

Collections review

The UCL Collections Review was a single, all-encompassing review of the care, use and significance of all the objects in the museums and the teaching and research collections had UCL. Read more about the collections review.