AHRC unveils new programme to partner with the Smithsonian

Date: 21/09/2017

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution in the US have announced an exciting new partnership to enhance digital research skills and digital scholarship in museums on both sides of the Atlantic.

Starting in spring 2018, and based at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the partnership will bring together academics and cultural institutions in the UK with experts from across the Smithsonian’s museums for a series of workshops, funded fellowships, and networking awards.

The new collaboration between researchers in the UK and US will focus on the innovative use of the latest digital technology for research in museums and galleries, nurture new approaches to digital scholarship, establish pilot projects to develop digital thinking around arts and humanities research and drive discussions about the value and impact of digitisation in museums.

A key element of the new partnership will be the development of new ways of working in digital research and public access, focusing on areas including data analysis, museum curation, audience engagement, and enhanced access to museum and archival collections. 

The partnership builds on a successful history of collaboration between the AHRC and the Smithsonian. This includes the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme, through which the Smithsonian hosts an annual cohort of AHRC-funded PhD students and early career researchers. Over the last four years, 21 AHRC fellows have been based in Smithsonian institutions, carrying out research on projects such as the ethics of medical research and the origins of commercial whaling in Europe.

The partnership was announced following a meeting on 19 September between representatives from the UK and their counterparts in America, including Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. The Minister was accompanied by AHRC Chief Executive Andrew Thompson and Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation Professor Sir Mark Walport. They met the Provost of the Smithsonian, John Davis, and the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History, John Gray.

Adam Walker, Strategic Lead for Global at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “This collaboration promises to provide a real boost to the way research is carried out in museums both in the UK and the U.S.”.

“In bringing together the UK’s world leading cultural institutions with the illustrious Smithsonian Institution, it is an opportunity to deliver international best practice in digital scholarship and curation. This offers great potential to achieve a transformational impact on how research is undertaken and presented in museums and cultural institutions.”

More details about the partnership and how to apply will be made available by the end of 2017.

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For more information and images please contact:
Press and Social Media Officer Joe Lewis T: 01793 41 6021 M: 07925891633 E: j.lewis@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. You can find out more information via www.ahrc.ac.uk or following us on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.
  • Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets in Washington, D.C.
  • The National Museum of American History is one of 19 museums belonging to the Smithsonian Institution. For more information visit https:americanhistory.si.edu/
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