GUEST POST by Dr Jacqueline Taylor
Researchers in Residence is a pilot scheme of funded internships for PhD students and Post-doctoral researchers developed by ArtsMethods@Manchester at the University of Manchester. The Researchers in Residence showcase was held this June at the Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester. As the underlying focus of the residencies were engaging with collections, the Manchester Museum seemed a very fitting setting to hold the event. This is largely because it houses its own impressive archaeological, anthropological and natural history collections, but also because it is quite unusual in that it has a vivarium - a museum exhibit with live specimens of Amphibians and Reptiles!
Researcher Residencies took place over a number of months for up to 40 hours in a range of local cultural and heritage organisations in Manchester. These included the Pankhurst Centre, the People’s History Museum, the Museum of Transport and the stunning, yet often unheard of Portico Library and Victoria Baths. Residencies ranged from working with museum, gallery and library collections incorporating archeological artefacts, photographs, music and literature across a diverse range of Arts and Humanities disciplines such as Archeology, Museology, History, Music, Drama and Visual Art.
The day brought new insights into Researchers and Higher Education Institutions collaboratively engaging with collections beyond an Art & Design context. Over the course of the residencies, it is evident that new spaces have opened up within the collections, both online, in archives and in exhibitions. Building on researchers’ own knowledge, skills and methodologies has created new ways to think about, visualise and encounter these collections, incorporating for example, oral histories, curatorial and management strategies to create a new ‘afterlife of heritage.’
Whilst the residencies have been vital for researchers’ in gaining skills and experience beyond their PhD thesis, as well as a rethinking of elements of the collections themselves museum staff identified themselves as becoming practitioner-researchers throughout the residencies through this collaboration. These relations are certainly valuable and something to be considered not only as embedded into PhD study, but perhaps as a vital part of the development of local cultural and heritage organisations who rely heavily on volunteers with little funding and research resources.
Visit the Researchers in Residence blog to find out more information.