Introduction: research

Research is always open ended. Asking basic questions about anything - the what, where, when and why - inevitably leads to further questions. The challenge is to find a focus

Why research matters

As museums concentrate more on attracting visitors, is the golden age of research in museums past? Laura Gascoigne looks at the state of play

Planning research

However large or small your museum, it is vital to plan your research projects - know the outcome you want, and how and when it will be achieved

Facilities for researchers

Allowing researchers as much access as possible to your collections when you have limited space and staff resources requires planning and imagination

Museum research and academics

Universities are natural research partners for museums - shared interests, complementary skills and lateral thinking mean relationships can flourish

Case study: researching collections

Margareta Alin explains how Kulturen in Lund, a Swedish open-air museum, works with external experts to ask difficult questions of its collection

Researching hidden histories

Studying collections and asking questions can produce unexpected results, and uncover histories that have rarely been told

Case study: researching exhibitions

Morwena Stephens explains how research on 17th-century cloth led to an exhibition on early transatlantic trade routes