Producing/Consuming Romantic Scotland

Project: Research council

Project Details


This project has grown out of a long-standing relationship between Historic Environment Scotland, Nomad Exhibitions and Nanjing Museum, which has previously produced the award-winning 'A Tale of Two Cities' exhibition, as well as the touring exhibition by Nomad, 'Ming: The Golden Empire'. Nanjing Museum, which was extensively extended and reopened in 2013, currently welcomes 2.6m visitors a year, with that number increasing by 10% each year.

In 2017 Nanjing Museum will host 'Romantic Scotland: Castles Land and Sea' - an exhibition curated by Historic Environment Scotland, Nomad Exhibitions and the Scottish National Gallery. Based on the experience of 'A Tale of Two Cities', and the current visitor profile, we expect Romantic Scotland to receive in excess of 500,000 visitors.

The proposed research project will facilitate knowledge exchange between academic and cultural institutions in Scotland and China, with the aim of increasing understanding of audiences and capacity for audience research in both countries. In China this will allow Nanjing Museum to take the lead in expanding the standard practice in Chinese museums of simply gathering quantitative data, to a more sophisticated methodology, analysis, interpretation and presentation of qualitative audience research. In Scotland it will enhance understanding of what motivates Chinese visitors to engage with our culture and heritage.

The project has four aims: to build the capacity of Chinese museums in gathering, analysing and interpreting audience research data; to capture the reactions of Chinese audiences to the 'Romantic Scotland' exhibition; to broaden understanding of Chinese perceptions of Western cultural heritage; and to discover how exhibitions, and those that construct them, influence the interpretation of key signifiers of Scottish cultural heritage.

The project is strongly aligned to the AHRC Strategic Plan for 2013-18, as well as the Delivery Plan for 2016-20. It will help to deliver on AHRC's remit to 'enhance its contribution in policy development and public engagement, making explicit the contribution of arts and humanities research to the understanding of national life in an international framework' as well as to increase 'openings for international research and co-development with agencies operating overseas'. The project will also contribute to the AHRC's priority 'to support and strengthen international research in the arts and humanities through strategic partnerships'. China is a priority country for AHRC and RCUK, where the aim is to 'stimulate international collaboration at all career stages to enhance arts and humanities researchers' access to resources, schemes and initiatives'. With its partnership of heritage and academic bodies, its core of supported early career researchers, and its collaboration with culture and tourism institutions, all in both China and the UK, this project will make a significant contribution to achieving that aim.
Effective start/end date17/10/1616/10/18

Collaborative partners


  • Arts and Humanities Research Council


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