Mobilising the Energy in Store: stored collections, enthusiast experts and the ecology of heritage

Elizabeth Haines, Anna Woodham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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In this multi-media article we examine the experiences and perspectives of a group of enthusiast experts as they encounter the collections held in store across the Science Museum Group as part of the Energy in Store Project. Their voices are reflected here from observations during the project, from initial participant interviews and from filmed interviews conducted towards the end of the project. Enthusiast experts in this context often include former professional engineers, model builders or even inventors, who have detailed knowledge and practical skills that are vital to shedding new light on the collections. This group are stalwarts in volunteer museums and heritage networks across the UK and internationally. However, previous research has indicated that in recent years this audience has not necessarily been seen a priority for museums.

This article views the role of enthusiast experts as object ambassadors, that through their specific research practices, knowledge and understanding help reinvigorate stored collections and can be seen as essential actors in the ecology of public heritage. We consider what form their object research takes, using a relational framework to consider enthusiast experts’ epistemic practices. From this perspective, the article argues, it becomes clear that the group are an under-utilised resource, who have important contributions to make to the dynamism and sustainability of stored museum collections.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalScience Museum Group Journal
VolumeAutumn 2019
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2019


  • Stored Collections
  • Science and Technology
  • Relational Museum
  • Object Research
  • Enthusiasts
  • Ecology of Heritage


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  • Energy in Store - Project Report for the Science Museum Group

    Kirby, J., Haines, E. & Woodham, A. L., 2019, 18 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportConfidential report for external body

  • Energy in Store Project Film (subtitled)

    Woodham, A. L., Kirby, J. & Haines, E., 4 Nov 2018

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

    Open Access

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