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Fiona Candlin specializes in small independent, single-subject museums, or as she calls them ‘micromuseums’

Fiona Candlin’s most recent book Micromuseology (Bloomsbury 2016) argued that museology concentrates on national institutions and investigates how ideas of curation, museum architecture, objects, visitors’ voices, 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.

In the course of researching Micromuseology, Candlin realised that very little is known about the development museums in the UK. It is widely established that some 1300 independent museums opened between 1970 and 1990 and that there are now about 1600 such venues, but there is no information on exactly where they opened, which subjects they covered, whether they survived, or which museums have since opened. In response, Candlin collaborated with Prof Alex Poulavassilis, Prof of Computer Science at Birkbeck, to plan and now run a four-year research project entitled ‘Mapping Museums: The history and geography of the UK independent sector 1960-2020’. This inter-disciplinary project will map and account for the development of the UK independent museums sector during that period. It is being supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant.

Fiona is also working with the Bishopsgate Institute Libraries and Archives on the Micromuseums Archive which houses materials relating to small independent museums in the UK. At present, the archive contains leaflets, booklets, and postcards that Fiona collected in the course of her research, and material from the Mapping Museums project will go to expand the holdings.

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.