Collections based research

By Dr Paddy Bullard, Co-director of the Centre for Collections-Based Research at Reading

The University of Reading’s Collections are an outstanding resource, from the Beckett Collection through to the Museum of English Rural Life. Research using Collections is taking place right across the Institution, and has been for a number of years.

Examples include investigations into the Hugh Sinclair Archive by Food and Nutritional Sciences, Architecture’s use of the DWG Collection and use of the WH Smith Archive by the Henley Business School. However, given the breadth and quality of this resource we could be making much greater use of the Collections for grant-winning research.

With this in mind I am delighted to be leading on the formation of the Collections Research Network (CRN), which is supported by the Heritage & Creativity Institute for Collections at the University.  The network will extend the momentum of collections-based research that has developed across the University of Reading over many years.

The aim of the Collections Research Network is to continue to grow the research potential of the University’s collections.  Specifically we will:

  • bring together collections professionals and academic researchers, with a view to promoting professional collaboration and friendship across services, disciplines and schools;
  •  share good practice and innovative thinking regarding collections-based research;
  • provide a forum for reporting on recent enterprises and projects;
  • explore ways in which experimental collections-based teaching and public-facing activity might feed into future collaborative research projects;
  •  identify emerging training needs around collections-based research.

The CRN will organise high profile events and regular internal meetings for discussion and we will also enhance communication through a regular digital newsletter.

On the 9th March I am delighted that Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A – the world’s leading museum of art, design, and performance – will give a lecture to mark the launch. As well as sharing his vision for the V&A, Tristram will be discussing the importance of archive collections, and the role that museums can play in the education sector and in society more broadly.

I would encourage anyone interested in collections and collections based research to come along.

For more information or to book a place, please visit the events page or email the events team: