ASSEMBLY: A New Conversation about Museum Research

ASSEMBLY is a national collaborative research development initiative, that aims to explore the question: How might we reimagine new forms of museum collaborative research for public value?

We suggest that there are untapped opportunities to explore alternative forms of museum collaborative research – with universities and other stakeholders – that can better align with the pressing needs of Australian museums, galleries and their communities, particularly in relation to grappling with their public purpose and relevance in the world. 

To better understand these opportunities, we believe there is a need to foster shared dialogue and develop a greater sense of collectivity across the museum and gallery sector and beyond, with universities and other potential collaborators. ASSEMBLY looks to create the platform to nurture this conversation by hosting a series of nation-wide forums (assemblies) later this year. These gatherings will be convened primarily online, to  explore the WHY, WHAT and HOW of reimagining new forms of museum collaborative research for public value.

For more information about ASSEMBLY please see the one-page flier that summarises the key objectives, principles and our current thinking regarding the design and timing of the assemblies. Interested practitioners associated with any Australian museum, gallery or university are invited to join us to explore these ideas further; as only by doing so collectively, can we determine and map our way forward.

We have also written a series of think pieces to better interrogate the rationale behind ASSEMBLY and shape its future direction. The first of these articles Episode 1 – Shaping a new path for university and museum research partnerships in Australia, sets out why thinking differently about the role and value of research can help museum and galleries  purposefully interrogate, productively understand and proactively respond to the pressing strategic demands and changing public contexts they share with universities and other public organisations. The second of these articles Episode 2 - Configuring museum/research trajectories - explores the ways that museums currently consider, enact and value research. Before reflecting on how the perspectives they offer might inspire a reconfiguration of the purpose of museum collaborative research that better aligns with their roles as public, social and civic agents. The final article in this series (to be published in due course) will ask whether such a reconfiguration of research is useful to museums and to the practitioners that work within and with them?  And if so, what are some of the specific forms of museum collaborative research that might enable this, and the barriers and enablers in pursuing them? 

In addition to these think pieces, we have also undertaken recent research exploring the research perspectives of Australian Museums & Galleries. Although museums and galleries are engaged in research, there has been little consideration across the Australian sector about how this research is manifested. This research attempts to begin addressing this gap by offering a snapshot of Australian museum and gallery research culture and practice. The insights from this study provide important underpinning to ASSEMBLY. You can read more about this research as well as access the report summarising key findings here

ASSEMBLY is being developed collaboratively by a range of stakeholders from across the museum and university sectors, with the support of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association, and with the Australian National University and Monash University. While focused at a national level, ASSEMBLY also mutually informs an expanded network of research observatories being established internationally through association with the Institute for Digital Culture (University of Leicester, UK). 

If you are interested in participating in ASSEMBLY and wish to be kept up to date on all future developments, please choose the ASSEMBLY option in your AMaGA account communication preferences. If you are not an AMaGA member you can create a free non-member user account and subscribe to ASSEMBLY via your communication preferences, found on your account page. 

If you have any specific questions about ASSEMBLY, please get in touch with Sejul Malde [[email protected]]. Collaborative Research Initiatives Manager, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. 

Download Assembly articles below


ASSEMBLY Summary Flyer

The Research Perspectives of Australian Museums Report

Think Piece 1: Shaping a new path for university and museum research partnerships in Australia

Think Piece 2: Configuring Museum Research Trajectories