Professor Tilly Blyth

Head of School

School/Department: Museum Studies, School of



Tilly Blyth is the Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She brings together sector knowledge, with creative practice and academic research, to consider the relevancy and structural challenges of the sector, and support a new generation of global museum professionals.

Professor Blyth is interested developing inspiring visitor experiences in museums by building significant museum collections, fascinating stories and compelling digital skills. Her work focuses on science as culture, process and practice, not as an invention or discovery, with her research drawing from an interdisciplinary range of knowledge systems, including museum studies, the history and theory of technology, science and technology studies (STS).

Prior to joining academia, Professor Blyth spent over twenty years working with national museums, including the V&A, British Museum and Science Museum. As Head of Collections and Principal Curator at the Science Museum (2016-2022) her leadership of the Curatorial, Research, Library and Archive teams resulted in stunning galleries and exhibitions, underpinned by improved collection cataloguing and digital narratives through serious academic scholarship.

With a background in Physics and the Analysis of Science and Technology (BSc, University of Manchester), and Technical Change and Industrial Strategy (MSc, University of Manchester), her doctorate (Sociology, Brunel University) examined the social construction of consumer need for new technologies.

She also holds a number of professional positions:

Trustee, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Trustee, Bletchley Park Trust

Member of British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

Royal Photographic Society Science Committee



As a researcher and practitioner, Professor Blyth is interested in objects, places, knowledge and people, and how they come together to support societal change and form inspiring museum experiences. Her research focuses the history of science and technology, with a particular interest in the practice of science and technology in communities operating globally.

Previously her research focused on the development of digital museum experiences. Collaborating with leading creatives from theatre, audio, digital and film, and supported by funding from an exceptional group of commercial players (BT, ARM, Google, Bloomberg), she pushed forward the inclusive culture of museums experiences through community co-creation and building the relevance of narratives for women and diverse audiences. She sat on the Towards a National Collection (TaNC) Steering Board, a £19m AHRC initiative to develop to develop digital interoperability across collections in the museum, libraries, archives and gallery sector

Most recently, her work has focused on global technical histories — including South Asia and China — and how they are displayed in museums galleries and exhibitions, including an interest in the complex processes of global exchange to build ‘connected histories’ that create meaning, share knowledge and build mutual respect.

Research Awards include:

Principle Investigator, “Communicating Time and Culture”, £79,921, AHRC Follow on funding to support Collections Engagement for UK/Chinese audience, October 2023-June 2024.

Principle Investigator, UK/China Creative Industries, ‘Time, Culture and Identity’, £201,074, AHRC Creating an immersive digital experience between UK/China with the Palace Museum, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Jiaotong University, Beijing, Feb 2019-Oct 2020.

Principle Investigator, NESTA research, ‘Legacy of the BBC Micro’, £25,000. The legacy of the BBC Computer Literacy Project for innovation and programming in schools, 2013.

Principle Investigator, AHRC research project, ‘The Enfield Exchange: Sharing National Communications Collections and Local Knowledge’, £19,654. Connected Communities call, spearheaded new form of Collections participation through community engagement, 2012.

Co-Investigator, AHRC research project, ‘Locating Communications Heritage’, £11,792. Collaboration with UCL, part of Digital Heritage call, Nov 2008 - Nov 2009. Application of new geo-located mobile technology for Collections engagement.


Interested in supervising PhD’s that focus on museum practice and collections, particularly digital histories and objects, and object meanings across transnational boundaries.


Professor Blyth’s teaching draws research and practice to contribute to the School’s campus based and distance learning programmes, particularly our Engaging Audiences module.

Press and media

TV and Radio: Art Fund Museum of the Year Award live on BBC News and BBC Radio 4 Front Row, Sept 2021 at 17:45 mins.

Web Tour: BBC 100, History of the BBC through objects, July 2021.

Radio Series: Art of Innovation, BBC Radio 4. Presenting with Sir Ian Blatchford on 20-part radio series, Sept 2019.

Television: Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing, contributor to documentary, BBC 4, Sept 2015

Radio Series: Computing Britain, BBC Radio 4, September 2015, contributor to 10-part series on 75 years of computing history

Radio Series: Hidden Histories of the Information Age, five part series, BBC Radio 4, 20-24th October 2014


Oxford Cultural Leaders programme (2020-2021)

Science Museum Group Leadership Development programme (2012)

Science Museum Group Accelerated Development Programme (2006)

With a background in Physics and the Analysis of Science and Technology (BSc, University of Manchester), and Technical Change and Industrial Strategy (MSc, University of Manchester), her doctorate (Sociology, Brunel University) examined the social construction of consumer need for new technologies.

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