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Designing a Knowledge Base to Research the History and Geography of the UK Museums Sector 1960-2020

Several studies have highlighted the absence of an integrated comprehensive dataset covering all of the UK’s museums, hence impeding research into the emergence, evolution and wider impact of the UK’s museums sector. “Mapping Museums” is an interdisciplinary AHRC-funded project aiming to develop a comprehensive database of UK museums in existence since 1960, and to use this to undertake an evidence-based analysis of the development of the UK’s museums sector during 1960-2020 and the links to wider cultural, social, and political concerns. A major part of the project has involved the collection, cleansing and completion of data relating to some 4,000 UK museums (more than double the number of any previous study) and the design of a Knowledge Base to store the data and metadata relating to these museums as well as a Web Application allowing scholars to browse, search and visualise the data in order to investigate their research questions. This talk presents the motivations of the project, the challenges we faced in collecting the data and in developing the Knowledge Base and Web Application, our methodology and methods, and the ongoing qualitative and quantitative research that the Knowledge Base is supporting.