Developing the programme

One of the most important aims of Research in Translation is to enable Early Career Researchers to work directly with museum professionals, creative designers and museologists. There is an enormous wealth of knowledge contained within museums, about the world itself but also the expertise of presenting to the public, and sometimes questioning, that world through exhibitions and displays.

The average museum covers a vast range of subjects from natural history to science and technology, archaeology to art and history. Objects and collections associated with these topics need to be interpreted for the public, put into context and their significance communicated. Anyone who has been to a museum knows that there is a limited amount of space in which to do this! Text can only be so long (research indeed suggests that visitors do not want to read long, jargon-filled, convoluted essays on a subject!) and museums have worked hard to develop alternative means of communicating complex, often challenging, themes to their audiences. Museums still rely on display cases and text labels but technology has enabled other forms of media to enhance the visitor experience. These institutions present the knowledge generated through conducting rigorous research (increasingly in collaboration with other disciplinary ‘experts’ working in other institutions as well as with people, ‘communities’ and organizations with relevant lived experiences and knowledges) by also creating immersive, experiential exhibition spaces that favour visitors’ engagements with a plethora of issues. Museums increasingly seek to immerse the visitor in an experience which appeals to all the senses. To enable visitors to communicate those experiences back to the museum, take part in conversations or continue to reflect on a topic after a visit. It is this expertise that we want to tap into for our training programme.

Our first workshop will therefore look at the underlying principles and processes which museums use when interpreting and representing knowledge to their audiences. How do museums make objects and topics of information meaningful to their audiences? How do these collection-based research institutions conduct research endeavours whose final goal is to disseminate knowledge to large and diverse audiences? What can researchers working in universities learn from museum and design experts that will strengthen their capacity to present their disciplinary-specific knowledge to non-specialist audiences?

We are very excited to be presently working with staff from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to devise two days of presentations, activities, site visits and inspirational case studies for participants (first two-day workshop). Participants will also take advantages from using the high-tech learning facilities of the University of Birmingham that will enable ECRs to start thinking of and visualising their research in new ways. We are confident this two-day workshop will be an unique and extremely rewarding experience for the successful applicants to the programme.