UCL Research Institute for Collections


Liberating the Collections Fellowships

Could you be a fellow at UCL Research Institute for Collections?

We are offering two Fellowships intended to unearth underrepresented voices and find new ways of engaging with collection stories and presenting them to wider society. As a Fellow, you will help us gain perspectives on our collections beyond the structural narratives that currently prevail.

Some suggestions as to possible research areas include but are not limited to: non-traditional ways of researching collections; curating equality; contested histories; women and art; empire; decolonising natural history collections; disruptive politics; communities of colour; disability; the ethics of collecting; eugenics and its legacy at UCL; power and social justice; climate; wellbeing; LGBTQ+ stories; women readers; and women in the book trade. You may like to consider collaborating with other projects taking place at UCL, such as the Eugenics Legacy Education Project (ELEP).

The UCL Research Institute for Collections was founded in 2021 to foster research synergies centred on the library, museum, gallery and departmental collections held in UCL by bringing together curatorial and academic expertise. The aim is that one of the Fellowships will focus on the UCL Museum Collections and the other on materials held in UCL Special Collections, but we welcome proposals that work across all of our holdings.

About the Fellowships

By interrogating how inherent biases and structural inequalities are reflected in our collections, the Fellowships will build on current work that addresses this at UCL. We encourage research that will approach our collections from different perspectives and through disruptive mechanisms by finding new ways of exploring our diverse cultural holdings and/or by focusing on under-researched perspectives contained within them. The application criteria open the Fellowships up to a wider group of applicants.

The Visiting Fellow will receive: 

  • A grant of £4,500. 
  • Work-space on the UCL Bloomsbury campus. 
  • Mediated access to the collections. 
  • Access to staff with specialist knowledge of the collection(s) in question when available. 

The Fellow will be required to provide, as a minimum: 

  • A blog post of at least 500 words on the Special Collections blog. 
  • An output of their choice in any format. This can include academic as well as creative outputs including, but not limited to, a community project or a piece of art or music.
  • A public output during the Fellowship, such as an event, a pop-up display or a podcast
  • Acknowledgement of the grant in any resulting publications or events.


The Fellowships are open to applicants of any nationality or career stage; from registered doctoral candidates to senior scholars, artists, collection professionals and independent researchers. Groups and communities of interest will also be considered.

Fellows need to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK before making arrangements. Please use the government website to check what documentation you need. 

The Selection Committee will consider applications according to the following criteria: 

  • Suitability of selected materials held in UCL Museums or Special Collections. 
  • How the project engages with the public in a meaningful way and/or has the potential to increase public knowledge of the collections
  • The potential to increase knowledge of, and access to, new perspectives and marginalised voices in the collections. 

How to apply and deadlines 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact UCL before submitting an application, to discuss the level of access to the collections that their proposed research project would require. Emails should be sent to Rebekah Seymour, RIC Support Officer (rebekah.seymour@ucl.ac.uk). 

The deadline for applications is 5 February 2024. Applicants should send the following documents to Rebekah Seymour, RIC Support Officer (rebekah.seymour@ucl.ac.uk)