An argument for the importance of circulation in the study of museum collections, both past and present.
How did the process of the circulation re-examine, inform, and unsettle common assumptions about the way museum collections have evolved over time and space? Mobile Museums presents an argument for the importance of circulation in the study of museum collections, both past and present. It brings together a diverse array of international scholars and curators from a variety of disciplines to consider the mobility of collections, especially in the context of Indigenous community engagement. By foregrounding the question of circulation, the book represents a paradigm shift in the understanding of the history and future uses of museum collections. Taking on a global perspective and addressing a variety of types of collection, including the botanical, ethnographic, economic, and archaeological, the book helps us to understand why the mobility of museum collections was a fundamental aspect of their history – and why it continues to matter today.
Felix Driver is Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has undertaken research on collections, exploration and empire in collaboration with various organisations including Kew Gardens and the Royal Geographical Society. His books include Geography Militant (2001) and Hidden Histories of Exploration (2009, with Lowri Jones).
Mark Nesbitt is Honorary Associate Professor at UCL Institute of Archaeology, Visiting Professor at Royal Holloway and Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. His research concerns human-plant interactions as revealed through museum collections. His research addresses the histories of empire, medicine and botany and their relevance today.
Caroline Cornish is Senior Research Officer (Plant Humanities) at Royal Holloway, University of London and Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She has published widely on the history of Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany and her research interests lie at the intersection of histories of museums, collections and science.
"A generously varied and purposeful testament to the importance of conversations between disciplines, institutions and cultures."
– Journal of the History of Collections
"A rich and fascinating picture of the circulation of collections through time in a style accessible to a broader scientific audience. The message of the value of researching mobility and putting it to valuable purpose is clear and provides much food for thought."
– Archives of Natural History
"In light of [the] broad disciplinary scope and attention to diverse collections – as well as its theoretical attention to circulation beyond individual objects – Mobile Museums will be of use to anyone who needs to follow a collection on the move."
– Museum Worlds