1st Edition

Rethinking Research in the Art Museum

By Emily Pringle Copyright 2019
    194 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    194 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Rethinking Research in the Art Museum presents an original and radical perspective on how research can function as an agent of change in art museums today. The book analyses a range of art organisations and draws on numerous interviews with museum professionals to outline the limitations of existing models of museum research.

    Arguing for a more democratic formulation in tune with the current needs and ambitions of the art institution, Emily Pringle puts forward a framework for practitioner-led, co-produced research that redefines how knowledge is created in the museum. Recognising that museums today negotiate multiple agendas, the book outlines the value of constructing the art museum professional as a practitioner researcher and their work as a mode of practice-based research, be they educators, archivists, curators or conservators. Locating these arguments within the framework of new museology, critical pedagogy, professional and organisational studies and epistemology, the book offers insights and guidance for those interested in how art museums function and the role research plays within these complex institutions.

    Rethinking Research in the Art Museum provides a timely and important resource for museum professionals and scholars, students, artists and community members. It should be of particular interest to those invested in exploring how art museums can continue to make the most of their unique resources, whilst becoming more collaborative, inclusive and relevant to the twenty-first century.

    List of figures

    List of Tables


    List of Interviewees


    1. An Introduction: who creates the knowledge and defines the reality?
    2. Why is research in art museums confusing and how can we make it less so
    3. The practitioner researcher in the art museum
    4. Building practice as research in the art museum: Tate Learning as a case study
    5. Co-researching with community members, academics and visitors
    6. Fostering a culture where the practitioner researcher can thrive: Knowle West Media Centre as a case study
    7. Constructing an expanded framework for research in the art museum: moving from the exotic animal to the household pet





    Emily Pringle trained originally as a painter and worked freelance for several years as an artist, educator, researcher and programmer before joining Tate in 2010. In 2014 she established the Tate Research Centre: Learning (www.tate.org.uk/research/research-centres/tate-research-centre-learning). In 2017 she was awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, which allowed her to take ten months away from Tate to explore and write on art museum research. She is currently Head of Research at Tate.

    "In this provocative and timely study, Emily Pringle presents a powerful critique of deeply entrenched ways of thinking about research and knowledge creation within cultural institutions. Her original and insightful analysis reveals the enormous, largely untapped potential for practitioners working across the art museum to harness the power of collaborative research to foster radical and progressive change within their organisations." - Richard Sandell, Professor of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK

    "As a museum practitioner and researcher myself, I found this book very worthwhile. In my own experience, I have observed the divide between formalized research and day-to-day professional practice. This book stimulated me to ask questions of myself and my institution, and gave me a clear structure within which to consider the new research possibilities that arose in response to these." - Esther McNaughton, The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū