Dr Sarah Plumb

Senior Research Associate

School/Department: Museum Studies, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3757



I joined the School of Museum Studies in 2013 as a PhD Researcher and as a Research Assistant for RCMG in 2014 supporting The Cultural Value of Engaging with Museums and Galleries as part of Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value project. In 2016 I started working as a Research Associate (maternity cover), I became a core member of the team in 2017 and a Senior Research Associate in 2019. I lead and collaborate with RCMG colleagues on diverse research projects working with a range of academics researchers, and professionals from the sector and beyond that enable cultural organisations to become more ambitious and impactful in nurturing more equitable and inclusive societies. Prior to this I worked in museums and galleries an educator specialising in working with marginalised and excluded individuals and groups. I worked in UK institutions - Modern Art Oxford, Compton Verney, Midlands Art Centre, and The New Art Gallery Walsall and as a council member and area representative for Engage (the National Association for Gallery Education). I also worked as an Associate Lecturer in Art History and Curating at Manchester School of Art Manchester Metropolitan University.


Collaboration is central to my research focus and practice. I am particularly interested in socially engaged practice and its relationship to museums and galleries as institutions of mediation. Concerned with the dynamic and changing relationships between art, artists, curators, educators, and communities my research explores the potential social effects of this dialogue. Through focusing on and amplifying the voices of community participants collaborating in socially engaged practice I consider the ethical implications of collaborations between cultural organisations, artists, and communities. As part of RCMG, my research seeks to generate insights - for collaborating partners and the wider sector - that open up new possibilities for museums and galleries and their role in society. I have experience of collaborating on wide-ranging research projects funded by a range of organisations and bodies including Kettle’s Yard, Wellcome Collection, National Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England, NESTA, National Lottery, Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, and the Museums Association.



Journal articles

Plumb, S. (2019) 'The roles and responsibilities of galleries in critiquing contemporary political situations and imagining alternative futures' in Terraform
Plumb, S. (2017) 'Blurring Distinctions: Anthony Luvera's Residency' in Terraform
Plumb, S. (2016) '"We're all travelling the same route, but it's a different journey for everybody" Open House: Art and Engagement in North Cambridge' in Engage Journal 37 Time and Space, Engage
Plumb, S. (2013) 'Partnership Working in a Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery' in AD Magazine, NSEAD
Plumb, S. (2012) 'Neutral Territory: The Gallery, a Site for Artists, Young People and Older People with Dementia to Collaborate' in Engage Journal 30 Arts and Healthcare, Engage

Book Chapters

Dodd, J. and Plumb, S. (2018) 'Whose voice do we hear?', in Sandell, R., Lennon, R. and Smith, M. (eds) Prejudice and Pride: LGBTQ heritage and its contemporary implications, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG): pp76-81


Plumb, S. (2021) An ethical framework for collaborating with communities, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) & Kettle’s Yard
Plumb, S. (2018) 'Shared Ownership, Shared Guardianship', plus further contributions to The Conditions for Creative Communities, Open House, Kettle's Yard

Research Reports

Plumb, S. (2021) Open House: The difference made through working together, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) & Kettle’s Yard
MacLeod, S., Thornhill, A., Dodd, J., Sandell, R., Plumb, S., Brouwer, C. and Cuzzola, C. (2020) Isolation and loneliness: Opening up new stories and interpretive experiences at Calke Abbey, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)
Dodd, J., Plumb, S., Bergevin, J. and Sandell, R. (2018) Prejudice and Pride: An analysis of visitor engagement and response, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) and National Trust
Dodd, J., Jones, C., Plumb, S., McGhie, H. and Blazejewski, L. (2018) Unexpected Encounters: How museums nurture living and ageing well, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)
MacLeod, S., Dodd, J. and Plumb, S. (2018) Isolation and loneliness: Opening up new interpretive experiences at Calke Abbey, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

PhD Thesis

Plumb, S. (2017) How might the experiences and perspectives of community participants collaborating in socially engaged art practices be heard, considered and equally valued alongside those of the artist and gallery? What ethical implications for the artist and the gallery arise when community participants' experiences are considered in this way?, University of Leicester



I have developed both team-based and individual material, in the form of live seminars, workshops and lectures, for:

  • MA in Socially Engaged Practice in Museums and Galleries;
  • Live Lab sessions across all three of the School of Museum Studies’ Distance Learning MA programmes (Socially Engaged Practice, Museum Studies, and Heritage and Interpretation);
  • PhD students; and
  • presenting research to professionals to inform and enrich practice.

Press and media

I have expertise in the following areas:

  • Socially engaged arts practice;
  • Socially engaged practice in museums and galleries;
  • Collaborative and co-productive practice in museums and galleries;
  • Community engagement and participatory practice in museums and galleries;
  • Learning and education in museums and galleries; and
  • Participatory and visual research methods. 


I am Books and Exhibitions Review Editor for the Museum & Society Journal and a regular contributor to the Journal Terraform.


I have received the following awards:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council - PhD Studentship Award (2013);
  • University of Leicester - Teaching Partnership Award (2015).


Selected keynotes and presentations at conferences, symposia, and workshops:

  • 'Stimulating conversations with audiences and collaborators' Understanding Impact: Evaluating Outreach and Engagement Projects (2021);
  • 'Building Ethical Practices in Museums' with Suzanne MacLeod and Richard Sandell, Taiwan Development Programme (2021);
  • Moderator (Un)panel: socially engaged practice UK New Artists (2021);
  • 'Unexpected encounters in museums: older people nature and natural heritage collections' Health Wellbeing and the Environment (2019);
  • 'Questions of Isolation and Loneliness in Historical and Contemporary Readings of Calke Abbey' with Rebecca Harvey, National Trust Reading the Country House (2018);
  • 'Diversifying audiences through a "Trading Zones" approach' Workshop Diversify your audience! Berlin (2018);
  • 'Stimulating Conversations: audiences and LGBTQ heritage' with Jocelyn Dodd, Prejudice Pride Place (2018);
  • 'Open House: Working Together to Co-Curate and Co-Create in North Cambridge' with Karen Thomas, Kettle's Yard, Universeum - Working Together: Partnerships Co-creation and Co-curation (2018);
  • ‘The role of museums in nurturing more equitable and inclusive societies’ and ‘Creating a space where all voices can be heard’ Museums as Agents of Change: Diversity Accessibility and Inclusion Benaki Museum Athens and Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki (2017); and
  • 'Open House: Conversations with Collaborators' Conditions for Creative Communities, with Kettle's Yard Tate Exchange (2017).


Selected exhibitions and residencies:

  • Here and Now - film piece part of 100 Stories of Migration at Southbank's Festival of Changing Britain Adopting Britain: 70 Years of Migration exhibition, Royal Festival Hall London (2015);
  • 100 Stories of Migration - touring to University of Greenwich Galleries London (2015);
  • 100 Stories of Migration - photographic and media exhibition exploring how migration affects us all in partnership with the Migration Museum Project at School of Museum Studies Leicester (2014 - 2015);
  • Platform - Graduate Artists from the South East in partnership with CVAN SE, MK Gallery, Turner Contemporary, and Aspex, Modern Art Oxford (2013);
  • Stephanie Douet: Real / Non-Real - Residency Modern Art Oxford (2013);
  • Zsuzsanna Nyul: Visible-Invisible - Residency Modern Art Oxford (2013);
  • Rolf Julius exhibition as part of the Audiograft Festival Modern Art Oxford (2013);
  • Julian Wild: Making the Connection with The China Shop Gallery Modern Art Oxford (2012);
  • Platform - Graduate Artists from the South East in partnership with CVAN SE, MK Gallery, Turner Contemporary, and Aspex, Modern Art Oxford (2012);
  • Lost in Time and Space - collaborative project exhibition Modern Art Oxford (2012).
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