ESRC Funded Collaborative PhD Studentship, 2003-6

Felix Driver (University of London) & Tim Boon (Science Museum)

The Geography of Enthusiasm: Public History, Museums and Spaces

Deadline for applications is Tuesday 7 May. Full details of project and application process at

This project will consider the changing geographies of modern museum culture, and in particular the significance of the developing access agenda, with particular reference to the history of science, technology and medicine. It will require a broad engagement with the academic literatures on access and its multiple meanings (physical, social, economic, cultural and technological) in the context both of the development of the public understanding of science debate and of the growth of public history in the UK and elsewhere. It will also involve a detailed investigation into spatial relationships between collections, museums and audiences. Experience amongst museum professionals indicates, in particular, that lay subject enthusiasts provide a potentially significant audience for the undisplayed reserve collections of museums. Yet very little is formally known about this ‘virtual community’ of actual and potential users. What modes of engagement are likely to be most effective in this context – conventional disp lay, specially-organised reserve collections, virtual outreach via the world wide web or physical outreach by taking objects and collections beyond the museum?