Lab News Publications

The Mapping Museums Website and Database is Now Live

Well it’s not the launch we’d hoped for. We were supposed to mark the event with a panel discussion and wine reception at London Transport Museum, and for weeks I’ve been looking forwards to hearing what the speakers had to say about our report. I’ve been borderline worried about the possibility that we might have overlooked something important or that there would be an error in the database that had hitherto gone unnoticed, and I’ve imagined us all afterwards, happily drinking wine at the reception, toasting each other for our success. We had 120 delegates booked in, coming from all kinds of interesting places, and a long waiting list. I’d even bought a new outfit. Sigh. It is disappointing but given the current spread of Covid-19, it was better to err on the side of caution and to postpone the event.

On the up side, we have decided to go ahead and publish. So, if you have had to self-isolate and need some alternatives to Netflix, then there is a cornucopia of museum information just waiting for you.

The website has links to podcasts and lectures, to a series of academic articles, and to transcripts of dozens of interviews with the founders of museums. It’s got sections on how we collected the data and built the database, on our definitions of museums and our new subject classification system. Above all, there is the database: information on 4,200 museums that have been open at some point between 1960 and 2020. If you’ve always wanted to know where to find museums of food and drink, or how many railway museums there are in the UK, then the answer is now at your fingertips.

We have also published ‘Mapping Museums 1960-2020: a report on the data’, which provides a summary of the research and of our methods, and a guide to the findings from the data. This is where you’ll find information on the numbers of museums that have opened in the UK over the last six decades, when they opened, the subjects they covered, their governance, where they were, and if they closed. The report can be accessed through the Publications page.

I do hope that you will enjoy the website, and find the report and database useful. If you have any feedback on the project, and especially on how you’re using the information, then do please let us know.

Fiona Candlin

Image: First Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour Launches — May 7, 1992, by NASA under Creative Commons licence


New publications

Mapping Museums articles are like buses. You wait patiently for ages, and then three come along at once. We’ve provided the abstracts here and any interested readers can click on the links below for a full text copy.

Understanding and Managing Patchy Data in the UK Museum Sector

Fiona Candlin and Alexandra Poulovassilis

It is well accepted that the museum sector has a longstanding problem with data collection and management. This article begins by exploring problems with gaining access to data, poor archiving and coverage, and the absence of data. We then explain how the Mapping Museums research team set out to remedy the lack of longitudinal data on the UK museum sector in the period between 1960 and 2020. Initially we collated and supplemented existing information on UK museums but it was impossible to fill some gaps or resolve some inconsistencies in the data. Here we discuss how we designed a database that was sensitive to the patchiness of the material, and that could model uncertain and absent data in computational terms. To close, we briefly comment on how our data enables research on museum history and on how the problems with data collection in the sector might be remedied in the longer term.

The Missing Museums: Accreditation, surveys, and an alternative account of the UK museum sector

Fiona Candlin, Jamie Larkin, Andrea Ballatore, and Alexandra Poulovassilis

Surveys of the UK museum sector all have subtly different remits and so represent the sector in a variety of ways. Since the 1980s, surveys have almost invariably focused on accredited institutions, thereby omitting half of the museums in the UK. In this article we examine how data collection became tied to the accreditation scheme and its effects on how the museum sector is represented as a professionalised sphere. While is important to understand the role of surveys in constructing the museum sector, this article also demonstrates how the inclusion of unaccredited museums drastically changes the profile of the museum sector. We outline the inclusive research methodology of the Mapping Museums project team and compare our findings with those produced when a survey is limited to accredited museums. In so doing, we sketch out an alternative, heterogeneous version of the UK museum sector and make recommendations based on that evidence.

Creating a Knowledge Base to Research the History of UK Museums through Rapid Application Development

Alexandra Poulovassilis, Nick Larsson, Fiona Candlin, Jamie Larkin, and Andrea Ballatore

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 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 museum sector during 1960–2020 and the links to wider cultural, social, and political concerns. A major part of the project has been the iterative, participatory design of a new RDF/S Knowledge Base to store data and metadata relating to the UK’s museums, and a Web Application for the project’s humanities scholars to browse, search, and visualise the data to investigate their research questions. This article presents the challenges we faced in developing the Knowledge Base and Web Application, our methodology and methods, the design and implementation of the system, and the design, outcomes, and implications of a user trial undertaken with a group of experts from the UK’s museums sector.

Lab News

Mapping Museums Database: New Developments

Since our blog entry on building the database, we have held a series of user trials of the Mapping Museums database and the Web Application through which the database is accessed. These trials have given us much useful feedback for improving the system as well as a positive endorsement of the overall development approach. For example, museums experts told us that the system is “useful to anyone wanting to understand the museum sector as this is the closest we’ve ever been to getting a full picture of it”, “intuitive to use”, “the Museum equivalent of YouTube”.

Following the user trials, we have made some improvements and extensions to the user interface, have incorporated data relating to some 50 additional museums, and have added three new attributes for all of the 4000+ museums in our database. The new attributes relate to the location of each museum and are Geodemographic Group and Geodemographic Subgroup and Deprivation indices (English indices of deprivation 2015, Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, and Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2017).

The figure on the left shows the architecture of our system. It has a three-tier architecture comprising a Web Browser-based client served by a Web Server connecting to a Database Server.  The database is implemented as a triple store, using Virtuoso, and it supports a SPARQL endpoint for communicating with the Web Server. The system currently comprises some 28,600 lines of Python code, as well as additional scripts consisting of 25,800 lines of JavaScript, HTML pages, and other source files.

Usage of the database and Web Application by the project’s researchers has already led to insights about periods and regions that show high numbers of museum openings or closings, changes in museums’ accreditation and governance status over the past 60 years, and popular subject areas. There will be two more years of detailed research, both qualitative and quantitative, building on this first phase of research.

The qualitative research is comprising both archival and interview-based work. The quantitative research is investigating correlations between high rates of openings or closings of museums and attributes such as accreditation, governance, location, size, and subject matter. The new attributes Geodemographic Group/Subgroup and Deprivation Index are enabling new analyses into the demographic context of museums’ openings/closing, including cross-correlation of these aspects with the other museum attributes, and hence the charting of new geographies of museums.

Ongoing development work is extending the Web Application into a full Website to showcase the outcomes and findings of the project.  We are also developing a new web service to allow the capture of data updates relating to existing museums and the insertion of data about new museums. There will be forms allowing the public upload of such data which will be subsequently validated by the project’s domain experts before being inserted into the database.

© Alexandra Poulovassilis, Nick Larsson, Val Katerinchuk

Research Process


Fiona Candlin

On Friday 26th January, the Mapping Museums project reached the end of its first phase, and for us, it felt like a momentous date. For the last fifteen months Dr Jamie Larkin and I have been compiling a huge dataset of all the museums that have been or were open at any point between 1960 and now. That information has now been finalised and handed over to the computer science researcher to be uploaded. In the coming weeks, we will be able to start analysing our material and generating findings about the past sixty years of museum practice in the UK.

The dataset of museums synthesises information from a wide variety of different sources. We started with DOMUS (The Digest of Museum Statistics), which was a huge survey of museums conducted in the mid 1990s and with the 1963 Standing Committee Review of Provincial Museums. These captured a large number of museums that were open in the mid to late twentieth century, but have since closed. We then added current records and information from the Arts Council England (ACE) accreditation scheme, and from the national records gathered by from both Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS), and the Welsh Museums Libraries Archives Division (MALD) and the Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC), since these lists both include non-accredited venues museums. The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) gave us a list of the museums that have been members their membership records and we also managed to find the results of a very old survey that they had conducted in the 1980s in the University of Leicester Special Collections library. This was research gold for it identified very small museums that are extremely difficult to trace once they have closed.

We included around half of the historic houses that are listed in the Historic Houses Association guidebook, and a number of properties that are managed by English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, or CADW. Deciding which venues reasonably constituted museums was a difficult process and one that we did in consultation with senior managers and curators of those associations, colleagues from the Museums Development Network and with the ACE accreditation team, although the final decisions were our own.

In the course of researching my last book Micromuseology: an analysis of independent museums, I had compiled a list of very small idiosyncratic museums, and these were added into our rapidly growing list, as were a surprisingly long list of museums that were listed online but not in any of our other sources. We then checked our dataset against the Museums Association ‘Find A Museum Service’ and against two huge gazetteers The Directory of Museums and Living Displays and The Cambridge Guide to the Museums of Britain and Ireland edited by Kenneth Hudson and Ann Nicholls in 1985 and 1987 respectively. Finally, we also consulted the Museums Association Yearbook at five yearly intervals from 1960 until 1980 and also a variety of publications that listed historic houses that were open to the public. In all cases, any venues that we had previously missed were added.

Having established a long list of museums we needed to ensure that we had a correct address, and the opening and closing dates for each venue. We also wanted to establish its governance, whether it was national, local authority, university, or independent, and if the later, if it was managed by a charitable trust or by a private group. Finding this information necessitated months of emailing and telephone calls, and we often ended up speaking to the children of people who had founded museums, or to members of local history associations in the relevant area. Even so, the process of compiling our dataset was not yet finished for we also needed to classify each museum by subject matter. In order to do this we devised our own classification system and considered each venue on an individual basis. It is little wonder that major museum surveys are infrequently undertaken.

The next phase of the research is analysing the data, so watch this space for updates. The first findings on museum opening and closure will be presented at ‘The Future of Museums in a Time of Austerity’ symposia at Birkbeck on February 24th 2018. We will also be tweeting about interesting aspects of our analysis, so don’t forget to follow us @museumsmapping on twitter.

Copyright Fiona Candlin January 2018.

Research Process

Galleries without collection: in or out of the surveys?

Surveys of museums and galleries have always excluded galleries that do not have permanent collections. In 1963 the Standing Commission for Museums and Galleries conducted a review of the UK museums sector. Its authors stated that they would exclude national institutions, but otherwise they would try ‘to cover all museums and galleries with a permanent collection which are open to the public, regardless of their importance’. As they went on to observe, their definition excluded ‘exhibition galleries which have no permanent collection, like the Whitechapel Art Gallery or the Arts Council Gallery at Cambridge’. This particular boundary line has remained more or less consistent throughout the last sixty years of data collection. The Whitechapel Gallery did not feature in the major DOMUS survey of the 1990s and does not appear on the Arts Council list. Likewise, the Baltic gallery in Newcastle which has no permanent collection is similarly absent, as are numerous small organisations that hold changing exhibitions.

At stake here is the importance of collections in the characterisation of museums within the UK. Their centrality is most evident in definitions of museums. When the Museums Association first formulated a definition in 1971, they stated that they were institutions ‘where objects relating to the arts, sciences or human history are collected, adequately recorded, displayed, stored and conserved’, and they kept the emphasis on collections in the 1984 definition, which read that ‘a museum is an institution which collects, documents, preserves, exhibits and interprets material evidence and associated information for the public benefit’. This was superseded in 1998 by the current dictum, which states that ‘a museum collects, safeguards, researches, develops, makes accessible and interprets collections and associated information’. Yet despite the changes in terms, all three definitions maintain that a museum had to actively collect and to care for objects, and thereby establish the centrality of collections to the constitution and identity of a museum. Most surveys conducted in the UK from the 1970s onwards have observed the relevant definition, and so galleries without collections have been routinely omitted from data collection.

This exclusion raises a question for our research, which is: should we include or exclude galleries without collections from our research? In the 1960s and 70s collections were the defining feature of a museum, and so the exclusion of galleries without permanent collections did make sense. Since then, that orientation has come into question. In his notable article ‘From Being about Something to be Being for Somebody’, the American curator and commentator Stephen Weil observed that a combination of economic imperatives and a growing sense of professionalism has prompted museums to become outward facing and to actively foster their audiences. This changed orientation has led to more exhibitions that are organised around a topic or theme, rather than around the institutions’ holdings, and to the greater use of explanatory texts, photography, audio-visual material, and interactive opportunities. Noting these curatorial trends, Stephen Conn asked ‘do museums need objects?’ and it has become increasingly clear that some venues did not, or else they only needed a few. Many museums present immersive and theatrical experiences, or use architecture to create an emotional response in the viewer, and while they may also exhibit artefacts, they are not necessarily centre-stage.

The primacy of collections has also been questioned in relation to intangible heritage. In the 1970s and 80s heritage practitioners became increasingly aware that song, dance, food, theatre, and ritual practices were important cultural manifestations that may also require a degree of protection. In Japan people with a high degree of expertise in specific crafts and practices had been designated Living National Treasures and provided with degree of financial and practical support. Western commentators began to recommend a similar approach was taken to other cultures and the issues were extensively debated at a series of UNESCO general conferences. In 2003 the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was published, which emphasised that cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. Rather includes ‘traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts’. It is within this context that heritage and to some degree museums became much less object-focused.

In many respects, venues such as the Whitechapel Gallery and the Baltic more closely resemble traditional museums than the newer venues that prioritise experience or those that focus on cultural practices more generally. Even if galleries do not own a collection, or hold it in public trust, they do focus upon, show and interpret objects. Given these shifts in museum practice, excluding galleries without holdings may be anomalous.

On the other hand, galleries without collections do function differently in that they do not care for objects in the long-term. The staff do not focus on keeping things for posterity but on short-term exhibitions, and this gives those venues a very different orientation. The institutions are different in kind. Moreover, including galleries without collections has the practical implication of massively increasing the number of venues that need to be listed. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of art centres and exhibition spaces that would qualify for inclusion and the scope of the project would massively increase.

What do you think? Should art galleries without collection be in or out of the Mapping Museums dataset?


Copyright of Fiona Candlin January 2018

Research Process

One Year On: The Principal Investigator’s View

The Mapping Museums project has just reached its first birthday. One year in, and Dr Jamie Larkin, the researcher, has almost completed the data collection. We now have an extremely long list of museums that are or were open in the UK at some point in the last sixty years. My co-investigator Professor Alex Poulovassilis and the Computer Science researcher Nick Larson have made good inroads on designing a database that will allow us search and visualise that information in complex ways. For me, it has been a pleasure to collaborate with other academics rather than to work as a solitary scholar as is usually the case for those working within the arts and humanities, and the process of conducting the research has been both fascinating and demanding. In this post I’m going to outline the three issues that have most preoccupied me over the last twelve months. They concern the definition of museums, their classification, and the structure of the database.

 Challenge No. 1: Defining a museum

One of the central aims of the Mapping Museums project is to analyse the emergence of independent museums in the UK from 1960 until 2020. In order to accomplish this task, we have had to compile the list mentioned above, and to do that we have had to decide what counts as a museum. This has not been straightforward. While the Museum Association and the International Council for Museums both publish definitions of museums, there have been seven different definitions in use during the time period covered by our study. If we were going to use a definition, we would have to decide which one.

More importantly, the use of definitions of museums only became common in the early 1990s and was closely connected to the accreditation process. In consequence, professional definitions of museums are usually aspirational and prescriptive, and they set standards that cannot be matched by many small amateur and community museums. The Mapping Museum project has a strong focus on such grass roots museums, and if we used established definitions, then we would exclude the less professionalised venues from the outset. We needed to find a different way of deciding which venues would be included in our dataset, and thus my first challenge was: how could we identify a museum as such?

Challenge No. 2 Classification

One of our research questions concerns the possible correlations between the date on which a museum opens, its location, and its subject matter. I want to know whether there are historical trends in subject matter: whether museums of rural life tended to open in the 1970s, military museums in the 1980s, and food museums in the twenty-first century. Similarly, I want to consider the relationship between subject matter and place: it’s likely that fishing museums will be located on the coast, but are there other, less obvious, regional differences? Do local history museums cluster in parts of the UK that have been subject to gentrification, or the opposite – are they predominately found in areas of low economic growth? Do transport museums prevail in the West Midlands and personality museums in the East of Scotland? Or are there no noticeable trends?

In order to answer these questions, we need to categorise each museum according to its subject matter. The last time this happened was in the DOMUS survey that ran between 1994 and 1998. They used a relatively traditional classification system that was suitable for documenting conventional public-sector museums, but was much less useful with respect to small independent venues. Many museums, such as those of Witchcraft, Bakelite, Fairground Organs or Romany life, take non-academic subjects as their focus and they do not neatly fit into academic categories. DOMUS did have the category of ‘social history’, but if we used that for all small non-academic museums, it would be so extensive as to be meaningless, and besides, social history is a methodology rather than subject matter. My second challenge, then, has been to write a classification system that could encompass the diverse subject matter of small independent museums alongside that of the more traditional institutions.

Challenge No. 3: Designing a database

While it was undoubtedly a challenge to find criteria for identifying museums and to devise a new system for classifying them, both these tasks related to my areas of expertise, namely museums. The third major challenge was a long way outside of my comfort zone and concerned the database design. This task was utterly anxiety inducing because it is something I’d never done before and, admittedly, never even thought about, and yet, despite my inexperience, I recognised that it is an extremely important part of the project. Although Dr Larkin has been collecting data on museums, and I have been working on definitions and classifications, that labour will be of little use unless we can search and model it in such a way that it produces information. The design of the database has a direct impact on the possibility of my answering the research questions and on the production of knowledge more generally. It has therefore been imperative that I learn to think about and help develop its structure.

How I responded to these three challenges, and worked with other members of the research team to resolve them will be an ongoing theme in this blog and the subject of scholarly publications. Do keep a look out for more posts.

©Fiona Candlin October 2017

Research Process

Building the Database

The Mapping Museums project is an interdisciplinary one between Arts and Computer Science and as such a challenge in many ways as discussed in the earlier blog on “Interdisciplinarity“. The project is being run using an iterative and collaborative methodology, as the data collection often leads to new knowledge that needs to be modelled and retained. This incremental accumulation of data and knowledge means that flexibility is important so as to be able to respond to frequent changes.

We, therefore, use a Semantic Database to store and describe our data: semantic databases are also known as Triple Stores and they store pieces of information in triplets of the form Subject-Predicate-Object. For example, the fact that the Science Museum is located in London would be stored as the triplet Science Museum-hasLocation-London. The data model that describes entities (such as museums and locations) and the relationships between them (such as hasLocation) is sometimes called an Ontology.

This kind of data model can easily be extended with new triplets as new data and knowledge accrue. It can also easily be integrated with other already existing ontologies, for example relating to geographical regions and types of museums. Equally important, it allows us to describe in fine detail the different relationships between entities.

In our project, the data is first recorded within Excel spreadsheets. It is then converted into a triplets format to load into our database.  We encode the metadata, e.g. the data types and relationships, directly within the spreadsheets as additional header rows, so as to keep the model and the data “in sync”.

In more detail, the processing of the Excel spreadsheets comprises several steps:

  1. The spreadsheet is converted into a CSV (comma separated values) file.
  2. The metadata is converted into a graph, defined in the Graffoo language.
  3. This graph is processed into a number of templates, to be used for converting the data into RDF (Resource Description Framework) and RDFS (RDF Schema).
  4. These templates are used to convert each row of the CSV file into a set of triplets to be loaded into the database (which is stored using Virtuoso).

Once the database has been created, we use it to support a web-based user interface allowing users to explore the data:


By using semantic technologies to describe and store the data, we can support a flexible user interface that will allow users to explore spatial and temporal relationships in the data in order to begin to answer the research questions around independent museum development in the UK.

© Nick Larsson, August 2017

Research Process


When Fiona Candlin and I first met up in 2015 to discuss the possibility of a research project that would create a database and visualisations relating to the UK’s independent museums sector, I was immediately intrigued. I knew from my previous experiences working on interdisciplinary projects to build specialist knowledge bases that this would be a challenging endeavour – and so far the Mapping Museums project has not disappointed!

The challenges faced in these kinds of interdisciplinary research projects are numerous:

  • the research programme cannot be tackled through expertise and methodologies arising from one discipline, but require multi-, cross- and interdisciplinary approaches;
  • gradual development of a common language of discourse is needed between researchers from the different disciplines: often a term has different meanings in different disciplines, e.g. words such as “design”, “Implementation”, “testing”, “ontology”;
  • from the point of view of the computer scientist, there is typically a lack of well-defined “requirements” at the outset of the research project; identifying a commonly agreed initial set of requirements is a necessary first step, on the basis of which we can then begin to research and design initial prototype software;
  • the production of initial prototypes typically leads to the elicitation of additional and more precise requirements, which often contradict the initial requirements!
  • because the very nature of research is open-ended and non-predictable, the research project progresses in this iterative and collaborative way, comprising successive cycles of
    • requirements elicitation
    • research
    • design
    • implementation
    • trialling

All stages involve the whole project team, as well as possibly additional domain experts and stakeholders.

In the case of the Mapping Museums project, it was evident from the outset that the gradual collection of diverse data and the gradual development of understanding about the required functionality of the database and visualisations would require this kind of iterative and “agile” methodology to be adopted by the research team.

This also pointed to the need to adopt “semantic” technologies in order to develop the database and visualisations, which are better suited to incremental data gathering and knowledge creation than more traditional relational database approaches.

Developing graphical conceptual models of the museums data from the outset of the project has also allowed us to develop a common understanding of the information that the database will contain:


The first 9 months of the project have resulted in a first version of the database, and in the conversion of our conceptual models into a formal ontology. We have also started to experiment with some initial data visualisations:


© Alexandra Poulovassilis

Research Process

Not Knowing About Museums

There is a lot that we don’t know about museums. In an age when it is possible to download an institution’s annual reports and follow their exhibitions and events via social media, it seems unlikely that academics, museum professionals, and the museum-going public would be so uninformed about the recent history, characteristics, and scope of the sector. That situation seems doubly unlikely if we note the growth of audit culture, in which public venues are required to account for themselves to taxpayers and policy-makers, and trebly so when we consider the vast scholarship on museums. And yet it is the case. This situation is not limited to museums in developing nations. It equally applies to America and Western Europe. Granted, these areas contain tens of thousands of museums, but even at the smaller scale of the UK, which is the focus of this research, our overview of museums is remarkably sketchy.

We do know that the number of museums boomed in the late twentieth century. In 1960, the Standing Commission for Museums and Galleries took a census and listed some 896 museums. When the same commission took a census a decade later they reported that there were over 1,000 museums and, sounding somewhat anxious, they commented that there were no controls on their formation. No such restrictions were introduced and the number of museums continued to rise. The 1978 Standing Commission described the ‘sheer proliferation’ and ‘bewildering fecundity’ of the sector and, in the mid-1980s commentators started declaring that museums were opening at the rate of one a fortnight, and then one a week, or even three a week. By 1986 government reports placed the number of museums between 2000 and 2,300, although one survey thought it might be as high as 3,500. The official total subsequently inched to around 2,500 and, according to the Museums Association, that figure has remained more or less stable. At the very least, the number of museums has increased by around 180%.

We also know that the vast majority of those museums were independent, in that they did not receive direct funding from the state. In 1960 when the Standing Commission conducted its survey, around 300 museums were independently managed, about one third of the total, whereas in 1986 that statistic was more or less reversed, with around 1800 of a total 2,300 museums being independent, the remainder being national, local authority, university or regimental museums. This made them the single biggest type of museum within the sector.

The boom in the number of museums was and is recognized as a cultural phenomenon, but beyond the rising numbers and the fact that the majority of the museums were independent organisations, we have very little information about it. We don’t know exactly where the new museums opened within the UK, or when, or what subject matter they covered. Nor do we know if these new museums survived, or when they closed, or how many new museums opened: There may be around 2,500 museums but it is entirely possible that hundreds have closed and hundreds have opened in the past few decades.

Now I confess, that when I first realized that there was relatively little information on the development of the museum sector, I judged it to be little more than an inconvenience. At the time I was working on my book Micromuseology: an analysis of small independent museums and I was wholly uninterested in the specifics of whether there were more museums in the English Midlands than in the Scottish Highlands, or how many museums were devoted to hats as opposed to trains. That seemed like bean counting, a quantitative exercise that would reveal nothing of substantial interest about the sector. It took some time before I realized quite how wrong I was. Having this information would enable me to write new and very different histories of museums in the UK, and to begin to understand how the sector had changed. More than that, it would allow me rethink dominant preconceptions about the location and production of culture in Britain. Once I realised what the information would enable I started to wonder if it could be compiled, and is so, how. Over the following year I began to plan the Mapping Museum project, which eventually gained funding in June 2016 and was launched in the October of that year.

Over the next few blog posts I’ll explain a little about why the data was missing and how the Mapping team has begun to compile a dataset of all museums that opened (and closed) in the UK between 1960 and 2020.


©Fiona Candlin May 2017