Category Archives: Cultural and Heritage Management

User Experience training for librarians

  • Do you really know your users?
  • Do you want to find out what they really need?
  • Do you want to find out what they are really doing?

For some time now interest has been growing in a set of research methods that are far more revealing and detailed than surveys. What is more they’re far more interesting and fun for our users to engage with too. Under the banner heading of UX (User Experience) these methods can help us gain a far greater understanding of how our users study and research in the 21st Century.

UXLibs-in-a-day is a highly practical and interactive workshop which explores User Experience (UX) research methods and applications which can be used to uncover what our users really need and do. Participants will have the opportunity to try out many ethnographic approaches for themselves, evaluate application in their own libraries and gain crucial insight into the kind of rich data they can derive. They will also be exposed to idea generation and design-thinking methods and consider the value of divergent as opposed to convergent thinking. After a very successful pilot day at CILIP HQ, Ashgate author Andy Priestner is now offering five more practical and intensive day-long UX  workshops at which you’ll learn these methods and their applications first-hand. If you’re interested then sign up for the first workshop in Cambridge on Saturday 28th November or register your interest in attending one of the other workshops taking place in Copenhagen, London, Maynooth (Ireland), Newcastle and Birmingham in the coming months


‘Engaging, innovative, inspiring. Makes me want to go back and do this!’

‘A very useful and practical session that focused on real-world methodologies rather than the purely theoretical and conceptual. Andy is a great presenter – very professional and effective.’

‘Really positive, worthwhile and usable. Inspired to try lots of techniques back at work. Thank you! One of the best training workshops I have attended.’

Failing that, pre-order the book, coming out in Spring 2016, User Experience in Libraries by Andy Priestner and Matt Borg

PRIESTNER JKT(240x159)pathAnd don’t forget to look at Andy’s last book:

Personalising Library Services in Higher Education  by Andy Priestner and Elizabeth Tilley

Triumph and Disaster: Medals of the Sun King at the British Museum.

Three hundred years ago the seventy-two year reign of the Louis XIV (1643-1715) came to an end at Versailles when he lost his battle with a gangrenous leg. Museums and galleries around the world are celebrating this important anniversary with exhibitions that showcase fine and decorative arts of every media commissioned, collected, and inspired by the Sun King. The British Museum’s modest offering Triumph and Disaster: Medals of the Sun King is, to my mind, the most important of them all.

9781472460332But why should we be looking at medals, when there so many wonderful Louis-Quatorze palaces, gardens, paintings, sculptures and tapestries to marvel at? For the majority of museumgoers commemorative medals, with their esoteric allegories and terse inscriptions, probably look like the oversized coins of an outmoded currency; they are the things you glance at quickly on the way to finding something more seductive. Yet in my book, Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV: Artifacts for a Future Past published by Ashgate this September, I argue that medals provide the key to understanding the best-known images and objects that were produced to decorate the Sun King’s palaces.

Medals were at the center of a long-standing project sponsored by the king to document his reign for posterity. They were made in imitation of the ancient Greek and Roman coins from which early-modern antiquarians gleaned information about the past. Louis XIV’s image-makers designed medals to transmit historical information to a future audience, and so they are the ideal objects for us to reflect upon this anniversary year.

The project to document the history of Louis XIV visually aimed to control the future reception of the king’s legacy, to ensure that he would be remembered in a positive light. The exhibition at the British museum reveals a fundamental flaw with this strategy, however. Counter-propaganda medals made in Holland, included in this exhibition, use the same overblown imagery created to celebrate Louis XIV to vilify him. This ‘war of medals,’ as it has been called, shows us just how potent these diminutive sculptures were once deemed to be, with the Dutch working to set the record straight in the same medium designed to ensure the Sun King’s immortality.

Little did those working to construct these historical identities of Louis XIV realize that the fashion for medals would not last.

Today medals occupy an equivocal space in museums, placed in sculpture departments in some, but under numismatics in others. The latter is a distinguished but rarefied discipline – the province of collectors and connoisseurs – where the study of medals and coins has coalesced. Too rarely are these miniature masterpieces brought to the attention of the academy or the public. I hope that my study and Triumph and Disaster: Medals of the Sun King at the British Museum will help to rehabilitate these fascinating little objects, and encourage people to look at them again with fresh eyes.

Robert Wellington is a lecturer at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Australian National University. His book, Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV: Artifacts for a Future Past is available now.

The exhibition Triumph and Disaster: Medals of the Sun King runs at The British Museum until November 15th. Entry is free.

Museums Association Annual Conference and Exhibition

The Museums Association Annual Conference & Exhibition is just around the corner and this year it is taking place at the ICC in Birmingham from 5th-6th November.

The Museums Association Annual Conference & Exhibition is the largest event of its kind for museum and heritage professionals in Europe with over 1,500 attendees from all over the world coming together to discuss the key issues affecting the sector.

9781472446152.PPC_PPC TemplateAshgate author Helen Chatterjee will be speaking about university partnerships and no doubt mentioning her new book Engaging the Senses: Object-Based Learning in Higher Education

Helen and co-editor Leonie Hannan discuss the use of museum collections as a path to learning and a new new pedagogy for higher education.

‘How can objects in museums and elsewhere be of value in higher education? This book is an invaluable, much needed extension of our understandings of object-centred learning into the tertiary level. Its thoughtful case studies demonstrate the role of objects – of myriad kinds – and multisensory, experiential engagements with them, in inspiring and enabling university students.’

Sandra Dudley, University of Leicester, UK

A small selection of Ashgate books will be on display at the Taylor and Francis exhibition stand. Delegates will also benefit from a 30% discount on selected highlights from our Museum Studies list. If you’re attending, look out for the flyer in your packs.

For anyone who can’t attend in person, you can still take advantage of the 30% conference discount when you order through our website and use the promotion code A15JVB30.

Browse our Museum Studies, Heritage and Cultural Management highlights and don’t forget to quote the discount code A15JVB30

From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum – a round table discussion

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate author Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius will be chairing a Round table discussion on 9th September 2015 at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw on the subject of her new book From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum.

From museum critique to the critical museumSince the late nineteenth century museums have been seen as agents of imperialism and colonialism, strongholds of patriarchalism, masculinism, homophobia and xenophobia, and accused both of elitism and commercialism. What can we therefore do to transform museums into places of open, critical discussion, actively supporting social change?

These are the issues tackled in the book From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, edited by Piotr Piotrowski and Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius (Ashgate, 2015). The Round Table with contributors to the book and art critics at POLIN Museum will be an opportunity to reflect on how museums can get involved in public debates on the most important and controversial topics relevant to today’s society.

The meeting will be dedicated to the memory of Prof. Piotr Piotrowski, one of the editors of From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum and creator of the concept of the Critical Museum. Piotr Piotrowski was a professor at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, visiting professor at many foreign universities, and Director of the National Museum in Warsaw.

Participants of the Round Table include:

  • Jacob Birken – writer and curator, research assistant at the Visual Arts Department, Kunsthochschule Kassel
  • Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett – Chief Curator of POLIN Museum’s core exhibition, University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University
  • John Onians – Professor Emeritus in the School of Art History and World Art Studies, University of East Anglia
  • Alpesh Patel – art critic and curator, Assistant Professor of contemporary art and theory at Florida International University in Miami
  • Jarosław Suchan – art historian and critic, curator, Director of Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi
  • Ewa Toniak – curator, historian, and art critic, pioneer of feminist critique in Poland
  • Krzysztof Żwirblis – artist and curator, initiator of artistic projects carried out in cooperation with local communities

Admission is free and the discussion will be held in Polish and English (simultaneous translation).

More information about the round table discussion

Museums and Public Value – Carol Scott on tour

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

‘“Public value speaks to our time…” writes Carol Scott in the preface to this collection of essays by eminent museum commentators. This important contribution to the debate about museum impact and function deals not only with the philosophy of modern museums, but with the management disciplines that will help museum leaders develop effective strategies to deliver and demonstrate true public value. In a world of economic uncertainty and changing socio-political dimensions, a museum’s ability to do this is critical to its purpose, its mission and its future.’ Alec Coles, CEO, Western Australian Museum

Museums and Public ValueAuthor Carol Scott has a busy conference schedule ahead. In the coming months she will be speaking at the following events on her favorite subject of Museums and Public Value.

Starting in September she will be speaking in Swansea at the Group for Education in Museums annual conference from 8th-10th September.

Carol will be one of the keynote speakers at the Maritime Heritage Forum in Newcastle, from 4th-5th October, speaking on ‘User value, public value and the future of museums’.

In Edinburgh on 22nd October, the Museums and Galleries Scotland Conference theme will be resilience, and Carol’s paper will be ‘Adventures In Measuring Social Value: Can We Prove that Museums Make a Difference?’

Last stop will be the ICOM MPR conference in Yerevan, Armenia 24th-28th October

Carol’s book Museums and Public Value was reviewed recently in Museums World

‘Museums and Public Value makes a significant contribution to the field by bringing together the latest thinking on public value and its application, helping thereby to move the debate forward in terms of its wide-ranging implications for both theory and practice. Readers may well feel empowered to use it to inform their particular area of museum work, as there is ample encouragement and numerous positive examples to be found in the pages of this book.’

If you would like to know more, order the book online or contact Carol online.

About the author

Carol A. Scott lives in London and works with museum leaders in the UK, Europe, North America and Australasia, using value as a core concept in planning, branding, audience engagement, measurement and funding. She is recognised internationally for her expertise in this area and is in demand as a conference presenter and thought leader. Her writing on museums and value has been published in Curator: The Museum Journal, Museum Management and Curatorship, Cultural Trends and the International Journal of Arts Management.

Helen Chatterjee to speak at GEM London Twilight: Museums and wellbeing

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate author Helen Chatterjee will be taking part in the GEM London autumn twilight series of events. On Wednesday 23rd September she will be talking about her research project Museums on Prescription which seeks to research the processes, practices, value and impact of social prescription schemes in the arts and cultural sector with specific reference to museums.

The event takes place at on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 from 18:30 to 20:00 at UCL Art Museum, London, WC1E 6BT. For more information, and to book tickets, visit the event page.

Museums Health and WelleingHelen’s book Museums Health and Well-Being, co-authored with Guy Noble, published in 2013 set the scene for this research, described at the time as ‘A ground-breaking manifesto for a new movement linking museums and health’ by Constance Classen, Author of The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch

Helen’s next book from Ashgate Engaging the Senses: Object-Based learning in Higher Education, co-authored with Leonie Hannan, explores the use of museum collections as a path to learning for university students. Despite a strong tradition of using lectures as a way of delivering the curriculum, the positive benefits of ‘active’ and ‘experiential learning’ are being recognised in universities at both a strategic level and in daily teaching practice. As museum artefacts, specimens and art works are used to evoke, provoke, and challenge students’ engagement with their subject, so transformational learning can take place. This unique book presents the first comprehensive exploration of ‘object-based learning’ as a pedagogy for higher education in a broad context. An international group of authors offer a spectrum of approaches at work in higher education today.

About the authors: Helen Chatterjee is a Senior Lecturer in Biology in the School of Life and Medical Sciences and Head of Research and Teaching in UCL Public and Cultural Engagement at University College London, UK. Guy Noble is the first appointed Arts Curator of the University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He is also a trustee of the London Arts in Health Forum. Leonie Hannan is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University, Belfast. For four years, between 2011 and 2015, she was a Teaching Fellow in Object-Based Learning at University College London, UK.

European Museums in an age of Migrations

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate recently published the fourth book in an informal series of books made possible by the European Commission-funded ‘MeLa – European Museums in an age of Migrations’ project.

The MeLa Project looks at the effects of the migration of people, objects, knowledge and information on the form and role of the contemporary museum, and aims to identify innovative practices that will drive its evolution.

The MeLa general objectives include:

  • Rethinking the role of museums in building a democratic inclusive European citizenship;
  • Envisioning strategies and exhibition practices to support the new role of museums in an age of migrations;
  • Improving knowledge on cultural heritage diversity and identity representation.

For more information visit

museums migration and identity in europeRelated books from Ashgate:

Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe, Edited by Christopher Whitehead, Katherine Lloyd, Susannah Eckersley and Rhiannon Mason

Cultural networks in migrating heritageCultural Networks in Migrating Heritage, Perla Innocenti

Migrating Heritage, Edited by Perla Innocenti

Postcolonial MuseumThe Postcolonial Museum, Edited by Iain Chambers, Alessandra De Angelis, Celeste Ianniciello, Mariangela Orabona and Michaela Quadraro