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Candlin is the lead investigator of the Mapping Museums research team. This large scale project is funded by the AHRC and was devised in response to the lack of information about the UK museum sector. In the first phase of the project, the team researched and collated existing information to establish a dataset of all UK museums from 1960-2020. This work has involved a critical analysis of definitions of museums, and the re-conceptualisation of the museum sector. The team simultaneously began to build a database that allows the material to be searched and visualised in nuanced ways. Over the next three years they will identify patterns in the emergence, development, and closure of UK museums, and will seek to account for those trends (or anomalies) through the use of additional datasets and via historical and interview-based research. The research will result in an online database that will be made available free of charge to the public, in a series of co-written interdisciplinary articles. Fiona will also write a monograph that is provisionally entitled When, Where, and What is a Museum?

The Mapping Museums project builds on Candlin’s earlier work on small independent museums. In Micromuseology (Bloomsbury 2016) she argued that museology concentrates on national institutions and investigates how ideas of curation, museum architecture, exhibits, and concepts of the public would change if Southport Lawnmower Museum or the Museum of Bakelite were taken as models instead of the British Museum or the Louvre. This research was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and led to an invitation to open the ‘Micromuseums Archive’ at the Bishopsgate Institute in London.

Previously, Fiona wrote on sensory learning within museums and galleries: work that was supported by grants from the AHRC, ESRC and the Leverhulme Trust. This research culminated in Art, Museums and Touch (Manchester University Press 2010) which explores the conceptualisation of touch within art history and museums. She also collaborated with Prof. Raiford Guins (State University of New York) to edit The Object Reader, which provides an overview of academic approaches to objects and materiality.