This AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership project will develop significant insight into the different approaches UK museums are taking to curating climate change by exploring the strategies adopted to represent this pressing subject in collections and on gallery. It focuses on three areas of curatorial activity: contemporary collecting, reinterpreting historical collections and content development for exhibitions. The aim is to chart the field of curating climate change and historicise this activity within the fields of museum studies and curatorial studies at a time when this activity is gaining urgent momentum.
Science museums are well placed to explore these issues due to the types of collections in their care and their institutional remit. This project therefore focuses on different approaches to curating climate change in science museums specifically, which are broadly construed to include science and technology museums, natural history museums and museums with botanical, geological and oceanographic collections, as well as comparing these approaches to museums with different types of collections. The aim is to establish what is unique about the challenge and reality of curating climate change in museums with a science agenda. Case studies will include organisations within the Science Museums and Archives Consortium as well as others selected by the student.
Research questions include:
• What strategies are curators using to represent climate change in collections, exhibitions and in permanent galleries?
• What are the challenges facing curators when curating climate change for museum audiences?
• What is specific about how science museums curate climate change when compared to other types of museums?
• How do curators understand their role in relation to wider public discourse on climate change and how and why has this changed over time?
The project will be co-supervised by academics at University of East Anglia and curators at the Science Museum Group.